While that’s not the easiest job in the world right now, especially since only a handful of drivers have hit the track for tire testing at Texas Motor Speedway, there are still a lot of other indicators that can show us who’s hot and who’s not heading into the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season. With that being said and the various preseason moves that have already taken place , here’s an idea of who’s on the right track this year!
Kyle Larson is another example of a driver that deserves to be higher on this list, especially after nabbing four wins last year and almost making it to the final eight, but his blown engine at Kansas and his two crashes in the following weeks prevent me from really being able to do that. Yes this is probably another case of a driver that will move up the list at the season rages on, but its probably better to start him out here for now.
With that being said, 15 top-fives and 20 top-tens is nothing to bat an eye at and also shows that Larson could be in the midst of a Jimmie Johnson like career if he can keep up this kind of consistency. The problem with all that however is whether or not Chip Gannasi Racing is a top tier team capable of winning a championship and after Larson’s early elimination from the playoffs last season puts that in question.
Is it any surprise that Jimmie Johnson would make the top-five on this list?
Sure, he was robbed out of competing for a record 8th Cup Series title at Homestead after having a bad finish at Teaxas and then getting involved in a wreck at Phoenix, but he was still arguably one of the most dominant Chevrolet drivers all season long. In fact, Johnson went to victory lane 3 times in 2017 and had four top-fives and 11 top-ten’s as well.
As for why Johnson is above Larson on this list despite being less consistent then The Chip Gannasi driver, that has to do with the bad streak of wrecks and engine failures that make it questionable about whether Larson is a legitimate threat to the title or not. With that being said, its hard to imagine a time when Johnson wasn’t a championship caliber driver and hopefully he will prove that by earning number eight in 2018.
Not only will he be in a Penske car in 2018, which is only going to make him more and more competitive as the season goes on, he is also coming off of one of his most success seasons as a Cup Series driver ever. Sure, Blaney missed out on a final four spot by just a few points last year at Phoenix International Speedway, but he did get his first win last year and even almost got win #100 for Wood Brother Racing on several occasions as well!
In the end, it may not be a championship year for Ryan Blaney, although it very well could be with what he has been accomplishing lately, but he will be a force to be reckoned with when the season begins!
This kid came so close so many times last season.
While many think that would hurt his standings on this list, especially after how his loses has seemingly followed him around like a dark cloud for the entirety of his Cup Series career, just the fact that this kid is able to get so close so many times makes him one of the best drivers out there. Seriously! What other driver last year can you name that came close to a victory that many times?
He also had 12 top-ten’s and 21 top-ten finishes, which is absolutely nothing to bat an eye at and could be a good indicator that 2018 will finally be the season he is able to breakthrough. He also has a new car number, a new shiny Camaro to race and some new teammates to help him along the way. In the end, there is nothing this kid can’t do and maybe 2018 is where he shows us that.
Martin Truex Jr
Was it any surprise that Martin Truex Jr would be here?
I mean, how can you put the man that won six races, including the championship race, dominated throughotu the entire season, had more stage wins then any other driver in The Cup Series and finished first in the regular season anywhere else on this list? Not only that, he battled former Cup Series champion and the only other driver with a decent record, Kyle Busch, throughout the season before ultimatley winning the championship.