Not everyone is cut out to be a Monster Energy Cup Series driver and while some are able to transition seamlessly into the sport’s top level, others continue to fail no matter how many chances that are given. Unfortunately for those that can’t seem to find their footing or are slowly losing their footing in a sport they once dominated in, they may soon be forced to compete for their rides.
With that being said and another NASCAR season only months away, here are some drivers that should lose their rides in favor of someone else. Whether that person is a trustworthy veteran that is still showing strong returns or a young promising rookie that can compete with the big three remains to be seen, but these are the drivers that are seriously in trouble.
5 Jamie McMurray
Jamie McMurray hasn’t been a factor in The Monster Energy Cup Series for quite a while now and it’s pretty obvious that the time has come to remove him from him his ride. In fact, with two top fives and seven top-top’s this season, Gannassi Racing could probably put anyone else in the ride and get a better result.
Beyond that, McMurray didn’t even make the playoffs this season and has only managed to make it to the second round of the playoffs once! If nothing else, that is a horrible record for any NASCAR driver in The Monster Energy Cup Series and should be a prominent sign that Ganassi needs to cut ties with him by the end of the season.
4 Ricky Stenhouse Jr
While Ricky Stenhouse Jr was originally expected to be the next big thing in The Cup Series, he finds himself with only two wins, one playoff appearance, and two poles over the course of his six-year career. Of course, his teammates aren’t doing much better and none of them are in this year’s playoff’s, but it’s not like Stenhouse Jr has been getting statically better behind the wheel
In fact, he has an average finish of 19.1 this season, which is two positions worse than his average of 17.9 in 2017. Add that disappointing average to the fact that Stenhouse Jr has been known to be overly aggressive on the track throughout his career and you can start to see why Roush Fenway Racing might be starting to get tired of him.
If nothing else, Stenhouse Jr is a developmental driver that should have never been moved up to Cup in the first place. Furthermore, his only Cup Series victories are at plate tracks, which are more luck based than anything else. With that being said, don’t expect Stenhouse Jr to last much longer and for RFR to eventually give up on him in favor of someone else.
3 Denny Hamlin
Sure, The JGR driver made it to the playoffs this season, even making it to the second round before being eliminated, but that doesn’t mean he has been having great performances lately. In fact, he seems to be falling off statically in the same way that Jimmie Johnson has been doing lately, which is a good indicator of him not being at JGR much longer.
Beyond that, Hamlin has so far gone winless in 2018 and only has a short amount of time left to change that fact. In the end, some are reporting that Coach Gibbs will ultimately oust Daniel Suárez in favor of Martin Truex Jr at the end of the season, but it would probably be a much better idea to get rid of Hamlin first and give Suarez at least another year.
At least that way, JGR can give Suarez another year or two to develop and prove himself in the Cup Series while also bringing Martin Truex Jr into the fold. If nothing else, a line up of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez would really be a powerhouse going forward and would remove the dead weight of Hamlin the process.
2 Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch may have won a race and made the playoffs, but its hard to really say what he has done beyond that. In fact, while Busch has done better in the playoffs this season compared to last season, especially since he sits in the top eight with a chance to still make the final four, he doesn’t seem to be getting all he can out of the SHR equipment, which is quite bewildering.
Interestingly enough, if you compare Busch with Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, you see a driver that is able to statically place well, but not be able to get the multiple wins that his teammates have. As if that wasn’t bad enough and indicative of his days being numbered, there are also rumors of him losing his ride at the end of the season, which makes his spot on this list all the more prevalent.
1 Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson has been on a bit of a downward spiral lately.
Not only is that evident by a longtime sponsor, Lowes Home Improvement announcing that they wouldn’t be renewing their contract with The #48 team, but also by how early Johnson fell out of the playoff’s this season. Beyond that, Johnson has failed to win a race in over a year and now will even be separated from the longtime crew chief, Chad Knaus, at the end of the season.
With all that in mind and veterans dropping out of the sport left and right, it really makes sense for Johnson’s ride to be up for grabs. Think about it! If Johnson was still performing at his optimum level, it wouldn’t even be a question of whether he should stay with the company or not, but it’s becoming obvious that he offers very little at this point in his career.
In the end, Johnson only stands with two top-fives and ten top-tens this season, which is about the same as he did last season, but a huge departure from his eleven top-fives and 16 top fives that he captured in 2016. He also won five races that season, including three wins the in the playoffs.
If nothing else, he is starting to go on a downward spiral performance wise and really needs to be replaced by another veteran with a better record or a young gun that can take the ride and do new things with it.