Fire up the scanners. It is time for Crew Chatter in 2017. In this weeks edition, Speedway Digest Staff tackles the question, “What are your thoughts on NASCAR’s Big Announcement?”

 

Brett Winningham

I think the new format will bring a lot of excitement to the sport. Drivers, as Steve O'Donnell emphasized, will have to battle all throughout the season for the grand-prize at the end of the year. It is no longer a win at Daytona in February and a test n' tune till the beginning of the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway like in the past. 

The fans have wanted something that awards drivers all throughout the year and they got it. I think this will be very fun and exciting. 

 

Davey Segal

Although I went into Monday's announcement with great skepticism and nerves, I came out of it with clarity and happiness. Although everyone (drivers, fans, media members, etc) are still trying to wrap their heads around this new staged-race format, I think that it would be wildly successful. NASCAR might've hit the jackpot.

I myself don't quite yet understand all the nuances of the format, but that will come to me (and all of us) in due time. The segments act as debris cautions, but points are awarded. And the fact that points will be awarded make drivers race harder, because early portions of the race actually mean something, which they haven't in years.

Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin said it themselves. We are going to see the best racing that we have in years. And gosh, I hope they're right. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new format plays out in 2017. If it goes well, Monday January 23, 2017 will go down in history as the day NASCAR changed forever, for the better.

 

Katie Williams

NASCAR couldn't please everyone but a change was needed. Things were getting dull. Fans, especially old-school fans, just don't like change.

I don't think the 'stage' format is a bad one by any means but I have to see it in motion to understand it a little better. One thing, for the drivers, there will be no more laying back and every race will count, no more 'We're in the Chase (playoffs), we can go into testing mode'. This might also mean more pressure on them but who knows.

There are still a few things I'm fuzzy on but it's only day one of this news. What if one of the stages ends up in a 'big one'? We all remember the scoring fiasco during Martinsville last fall. I'm not saying it will happen but it could. We'll just see how this all pans out. After Daytona, hopefully, things will be more clear.

No more 'Chase'. I'm fine with calling it the 'playoffs'. On the other hand, the word 'Chase' was unique because all stick-and-ball sports, even my other sport of rodeo, called it the 'playoffs'.

I welcome the change. Motorsports had to roll with the times and if this was the way to do it, so be it.

 

Caleb Whisler

The fans spoke and NASCAR listened with this new format. Sitting in the room when the announcement was made, I was frustrated and confused with this format. After the hustle and bustle of the announcement, I found clarity with why the decisions were made, to make the on-track product better.

Mr. O’Donnell said it best to not get into the muck and mire of trying to figure out the points. Bonus points are gone. The only bonus points awarded will be “playoff points” for wins in segments and the overall wins.

At the end of the day fans win! TV experts and researches have determined that fans will be able to see 20 percent more “green-flag” laps. This will also allow fans who are at the track to know that at Lap X, there will be a break in the action so they will not miss the racing product. Every single lap will mean something.

Change is not something that many people are receptive to. If motorsports foes not evolve, it will become extinct. This was not a Monster Energy decision, but an industry decision. You have to change in order to stay relevant. If this change works, January 23, 2017, will be on for the NASCAR history book.

On January 23rd, 2017, NASCAR begins a new era in how points and races will be run for all three national divisions. These changes are meant to help the fans see more action on the track from the television standpoint. Experts project that fans will see 20% more laps under green in this new format.

Drivers, team owners, and other industry stakeholders are excited about the changes coming down NASCAR’s pipeline.

“I believe this is part of the natural evolution of our sport as we continue to enhance the product on the race track.The enhancements are a result of unprecedented collaboration between the teams, NASCAR, broadcast partners and drivers, and in direct response to what the fans have expressed a desire for. Stage style racing has a strong history throughout many levels of motorsports, and I’m personally excited to watch as the new strategies play out during the upcoming season,” said Jack Roush of Roush Fenway Racing.

“Today’s announcement will take NASCAR competition to new levels beginning with Speedweeks,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “Race fans will see more can’t-miss moments on the track as every lap of every race is going to impact championships for all three national series. The enhanced format also heightens the importance of the Cam-Duel At Daytona as the 150-mile qualifying races will now determine both starting positions for ‘The Great American Race’ but also award points that will impact the championship. Today’s news is the product of the industry working together as well as listening to the fans,” said Chip While, President of Daytona International Speedway, who was part of industry discussions.

"All of us here at Talladega Superspeedway are extremely excited about the competition changes announced by NASCAR," said Grant Lynch, Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. "Every heart-pounding lap here – with three and four-wide racing at 200 mph – is going to mean something for every driver. We look forward to hosting our races this May and October with these changes, as they will provide even more winning moments for multiple drivers in these segments. The format will ultimately tie the season together from the start of the Daytona 500 all the way to the Championship at Homestead with better racing."

“Every stakeholder group in our sport has worked together to take NASCAR racing and make it even better. Spectacular sports events are driven by dramatic moments and this sets the stage for 2017 to be one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR history. The new format is going to pay off for NASCAR fans. We looked at all these decisions and all these different opportunites from the eyes of a fan. We all really take that to heart. This isn't just our job. We love the sport and this is for the fans,” said Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and General Manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, who was also part of the discussions.

Many Drivers went to Twitter to express their support of the new system.

 I'm pumped for the new @NASCAR format our sport is going to be as exciting as ever I'm even more excited to get to @DISupdates. #nascar

— Ty Dillon (@tydillon) January 24, 2017

The 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season for Chip Ganassi Racing would be considered a “normal” season for the team. This was the first full season under the ownership of Ganassi, Felix Sabates, and Rob Kauffman.

The team returned to on track competition with Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Both drivers made the Chase, a promise made by Sabates in 2015, but came into fruition in 2016.

McMurray’s 2016 season started off with three top-20 finishes in the first four races with his best finishes at Las Vegas and Phoenix where he finished 16th. At Auto Club Speedway, McMurray placed his first top-10 finish of the season. However at Martinsville, he finished 23rd. Despite a finish outside the top-20, McMurray was able to place two 13th place finishes at Texas and Bristol and a 16th place finish at Richmond. At Talladega, McMurray was able to finish fourth, making this his first top-five finish of the season. He went from a top-five finish to finishing outside the top-20 at Kansas and Dover. Despite those finishes, he went on a streak of four top-20 place finishes with the best finish coming at Michigan where he finished ninth. In the first road course race at Sonoma, he finished in 17th. His first DNF of the season came at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400 where he was involved in an accident. However, he was able to place two consecutive top-10 finishes at Kentucky and New Hampshire where he finished seventh and sixth respectively. Indianapolis and Pocono saw McMurray finish within the top-20. He went on a three race streak of eighth place finishes at Watkins Glen, Bristol, and Michigan. At Darlington, he finished 15th. In the final race of the regular season, McMurray finished seventh and made his way into the Chase through points. In the opening round, his best finish came at Chicago with an 11th place finish. He finished 19th in New Hampshire, but had engine issues at Dover which resulted in a 40th place finish and no hope to advance to the next round. After being knocked out of the Chase in the opening round, McMurray ended with a top-10 finish at Charlotte. The top-10 was backed by a 37th place finish at Kansas, and a 19th place finish at Talladega. At Martinsville, he scored an eighth place finish, but had two top-20 finishes at Texas and Phoenix. He ended his season with a top-five finish at Homestead.

McMurray competed in 10198 of 10523 laps in the season and led zero laps. He had two top-five finishes, 12 top-10’s, an average start of 16.6, an average finish of 15.8, and two DNF’s.

In his third full time season in Cup competition, Larson would have one of his best years of his career, so far. The season started out strong with a seventh place finish in the Daytona 500. However, Larson finished outside of the top-20 at Atlanta and Las Vegas, but was able to rebound with a 12th place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. Larson ended the west coast swing with a crash at Auto Club Speedway. He went to Martinsville and was able to rebound for a third place finish. He finished 14th at Texas, but had a dismal 35th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Larson rebounded at Richmond with a  15th place finish, but quickly finished 29th at Talladega and crashed at Kansas that resulted in a 35th place finish. Larson rebounded at Dover with a second place finish and a 13th place finish at Charlotte. Larson kicked off the summer strong with four top-20 finishes. His best finish came at Michigan with a third place finish and his worst finish of those four races was Sonoma where he finished 12th. To kick off the second half of the season, Larson finished 19th at Kentucky Speedway. His next top-five came at Indianapolis where he finished fifth and finished sixth at Pocono the following week. Larson’s “luck” went south at Watkins Glen and Bristol where he finished 29th and 25th respectively. However, Larson’s first win of his Cup career came at Michigan where he beat rookie Chase Elliott. This win would lock Larson into the Chase. He followed the victory with a third and second place finish at Darlington and Richmond. In the opening round of the Chase, Larson had an 18th at Chicago, 10th at New Hampshire, and a 25th place finish at Dover. Just like his teammate, Larson did not advance any further in the chase grid. Despite not moving on in the Chase, Larson started the second round with a fifth at Charlotte, a 30th at Kansas, and a sixth place finish at Talladega. To finish out the season, Larson finished in the top 20 in the remaining four races. At Phoenix and Homestead, Larson finished third and second to finish off the season and have momentum into 2017.

Larson competed in 10271 of 10523 laps, and lead 379 laps in the 2016. Larson had one win, 10 top-fives, 15 top-10’s, an average start of 15.6, an average finish of 14.7 and 2 DNF’s.

For 2017, Larson and McMurray will be returning to Chip Ganassi Racing. For McMurray, 2017 will be another year of consistency for him. Larson has momentum going into 2017. There is a chance that he will win more races and contend for a championship barring any unforeseen circumstances that might arise during the season.  The sponsorship picture for McMurray is set; However, for Larson, Target is reducing its sponsorship in NASCAR giving the team a chance to explore other sponsors. There has been no news made on that front for Larson.

Throughout the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, BK Racing rotated five drivers throughout car No’s 83 and 93. While David Ragan ran the full season in the No. 23, the one and only start for the No. 26 was made by Robert Richardson Jr. during the Daytona 500. Matt DiBenedetto jumped into the No. 49 during the Ford Eco Boost 400 at Homestead.
 
Driving the No. 83 Maxwell House Toyota, Michael Waltrip led one lap and finished 30th in NASCAR’s season opener. While it was the only start he would make for BK Racing, the NASCAR on FOX analyst would also go on to finish 12th in the May GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Jay Robinson’s No. 55 Peak Antifreeze & Coolant Toyota. 
 
Dubbed as ‘The Great American Race’, the ‘500’ would be the only trip on the track for Richardson Jr. in the Cup series. Unfortunately, it was not a good one for the McKinney, Texas native. He ran 135 out of 200 laps before engine issues caused the No. 26 Stalk It Toyota to be done for the day. Richardson Jr. would eventually be scored 38th in final results.
 
Dylan Lupton, Ryan Ellis and Jeffrey Earnhardt each made three starts for BK Racing. Lupton’s best finish came during the second race at Richmond, the Federated Auto Parts 400 where he finished 25th in the No. 83 EJ Wade Construction/Union Bank Trust Toyota. Along with a 37th-place run in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond and a 32nd at Indianapolis during the ‘Brickyard 400’, Ellis also filled in for DiBenedetto during the AAA Texas 500 in November and finished 38th, all of these finishes taking place in the No. 93 Science Logic Toyota. Earnhardt ran three races in the fall for BK Racing in the No. 83 ride. He started at Talladega where took home a 34th-place finish. He followed it up with a 34th at Texas and a 31stat Homestead. 
 
Ragan’s best finish of the year came during NASCAR’s second visit to Daytona International Speedway. The No. 23 Shriners Hospital for Children Toyota driver finished 16th in the 161-lap Coke Zero 400, a race that proved to be difficult for the 40-car field.
 
“We really had a car that drove well,” Ragan said after the race in a Toyota Racing transcript. “I think that we needed a little bit more speed to contend for the win but our car drove nice and on the long runs we were really good. We just needed to restart on the outside lane those last two restarts -- starting fifth and seventh we were just kind of a sitting duck on the bottom. Those guys in the second lane can get really good runs and then they can move to the third and on the bottom you’re just stuck. You don’t have anywhere to go. Unless you restart on the front row the bottom is not that good of a choice.”
 
Ragan’s other top-20 finish came at Dover in the AAA 400 Drive For Autism where he came home 17th in the Dr. Pepper Toyota. He led a total of nine laps during seven non-consecutive race weekends.
 
It was a rollercoaster year for DiBenedetto. He did not get off to the best of starts in 2016 with crashing the No. 93 Dustless Blasting Toyota during the ‘500’. He would move on to the No. 83 for the majority of the season.
 
A sixth-place finish during the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was a milestone for both the driver originally from Grass Valley, Calif. and BK Racing. “A sixth-place finish for BK Racing and for all my guys, this is like a win for us,” said an emotional DiBenedetto after the race.  “This is an incredible run. I can’t thank my team enough, my crew chief Gene Need and everyone on this team for working so hard and busting their tails for me to be able to drive this race car in the Sprint Cup Series.”
 
The next time DiBenedetto would strap into the No. 93 was the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. Unfortunately, he would crash again and be scored 37th. DiBenedetto would go on to run this number at Talladega and Martinsville and was also scheduled for Texas but due to an incident in the XFINITY race the day before the AAA Texas 500, he sat out and Ellis filled in. He ended the NASCAR’s season at Homestead with a 27th-place run in the No. 49 NASCAR Heat Evolution Toyota.
 
The 2017 season is looking a little different for BK Racing. DiBenedetto is moving on to Go Fas Racing where he will pilot the No. 32 Ford and should continue to run consistent.
 
 "I am very excited to join Go Fas Racing for the 2017 season,” he said in a Go Fas Racing transcript a few weeks ago. “We have a great group of people that I am very excited to work with this season! I am thankful for the opportunity and I look forward to representing the team and sponsors to the best of my ability!"
 
Ragan is rejoining Front Row Motorsports and the No. 38 Ford. He made history when he earned the team’s first victory at Talladega in May of 2013 and is hoping to achieve more.
 
“It’s a nice homecoming, coming back to Front Row Motorsports,” Ragan said in a team transcript. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Bob Jenkins (owner), how he put together his team and grew it the right way over the years. We’ve celebrated some pretty big highlights together, and now we need to go make more.”
BK Racing announced that the team has partnered with Best Home Furnishings to sponsor Joey Gase in the No. 23 for the new season. The furniture manufacturer will sponsor Gase for the upcoming Daytona 500, the Bristol night race as well as additional events throughout 2017."
 
“I cannot put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity everyone at Best Home Furnishings and BK Racing has given me,” Gase said in a team advance. “Racing in the Daytona 500 and the Bristol night race has been a dream of mine since I can remember. It’s very exciting to share this experience with everyone at Best Home Furnishings and those who have helped me get to this point in my career.”

The 2016 season began for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of September in 2015. It was announced that driver and team owner Tony Stewart would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season after 18 years in NASCAR. It was also announced on that September day that Clint Bowyer would join HScott Motorsports in 2016 before replacing the retiring Stewart in 2017.

Stewart missed the first eight races of the 2016 season after suffering a lower back injury while riding sand dunes in January. Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon would fill in for Stewart while he nursed his injury. In his return at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart was able to finish in the 19th position. At Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart remained in the car until the first caution when Dillon would take over to help prevent anymore injury. This was the only time when Stewart did not finish a race. Stewart did not finish at Dover because of suspension damage. After terrible finishes at Charlotte and Pocono, Stewart began to heat up as the season went to the summer months. Over those summer months, Stewart was able to claim victory at Sonoma Raceway after a gutsy call by his crew chief, Mike Bugarwicz and a last lap pass in the final corner. This would end up being his final victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart claimed seven top-15 finishes over the summer months with only one DNF at Talladega. However, Stewart began to cool off in mid-August. Stewart was able to make the Chase, but was eliminated in the first round. His only top-10 was a ninth place finish at Charlotte.

As the smoke settled on the career of Stewart as a NASCAR driver, Stewart had one of his better years after three dismal years. He was able to complete 7631 of the 7874 laps he ran in 2016. He was able to lead 36 laps over the season. He had five top-five’s, eight top-10’s, an average start of 24.8, an average finish of 18.3, and four DNF’s

For Kurt Busch, 2016 was a year of consistency. The season started off strong with a top-ten finish in the Daytona 500. Busch was also able to gain two poles at Atlanta and Las Vegas. He finished in the top-10 in the first four races, but that streak was broken at Fontana after a terrible weekend. Over the next eight weeks, he was able to finish in the top-10 in each race. His only win of 2016 came at Pocono Raceway in June without primary crew chief, Tony Gibson, on a race that was based on fuel strategy.  He followed the win with two top-10 finishes. Over the next 10 weeks, Busch had good weeks and bad weeks and only suffered two DNF’s at Darlington and Bristol. When the Chase began, the consistency continued. The first two rounds were consistent for Busch with top-20 finishes in all six races. In the third round, consistency was thrown out the window with a 22nd place finish at Martinsville and a 20th place finish at Texas. Busch was able to rebound at Phoenix with a fifth place finish, but came up short to compete for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had 36 starts in 2016. He competed in 10348 of 10523 laps in the 2016 season. He was able to lead 238 laps in the season. He had nine top-five finishes, 21 top-10 finishes, an average start of 12.1, an average finish of 12.0, and two DNF’s on the season.

For Kevin Harvick, 2016 was another great year despite not racing for a championship. The season started out in the first five races with five top-five finished and a win at Phoenix International Raceway where he edged Carl Edwards by .008 seconds. His top-five streak broke at Martinsville with a 17th place finish, but he quickly rebounded for three-top-five finishes. Harvick won his first pole at Richmond and then three weeks later at Dover. After much speculation about Harvick leaving SHR after 2017, the rumors were put to rest when he signed a long term contract extension. The next four races saw Harvick finish in the top-five four times before a crash at Daytona resulted in a 39th place finish. He was able to rebound with a pole at Kentucky and four more top-five finishes before a crash at Watkins Glen. Despite that wreck, Harvick captured victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Entering into the Chase, Harvick scored one more pole at Darlington and three more top-five finishes to become the regular season points leader. The opening round of the Chase saw Harvick have two bad finishes at Chicago and Dover, but his win at New Hampshire allowed for him to transfer into the next round. The second round kicked off with a 38th place finish at Charlotte, but a win at Kansas to move onto the third round. Harvick was consiststent in the third round, but a 20th place finish at Martinsville ruined his chances at a championship. Despite not being in the championship four, he scored the pole at Homestead and a third place finish to finish 2016.

Harvick competed in all 36 races. He competed in 10215 of 10523 laps in the season. He led 1384 laps throughout the season, and was the “regular” season point leader before the Chase began. He had 17 top-five’s, 27 top-10’s, an average start of 11.7, an average finish of 9.9, and only four DNF’s.

2016 was another lackluster season for Danica Patrick. The season started with a 35th place finish in the Daytona 500 with a crash. Patrick’s best finish of 2016 came in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a finish in the 11th position. Her worst finish was 38th at Fontana when she was caught up in an accident on the speedway. She ended up finishing 24th in the final points standings.

Patrick competed in all 36 races. She competed in 10326 of 10523 laps in 2016. She only led 30 laps throughout the season. She had zero top-five’s, zero top-10’s , an average start of 25.1, an average finish of 22.0, and three DNF’s

Despite not contending for a championship, the 2016 was a year of transition for the Stewart-Haas organization. 2017 will be an interesting year for the organization with the transition to Ford and the addition of a NASCAR Xfinity Series program. It will also be interesting to see how Bowyer does in his first season with the organization. For Patrick, 2017 is a crucial year for her in NASCAR. Harvick and Busch should come back even stronger in 2017The 2016 season began for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of September in 2015. It was announced that driver and team owner Tony Stewart would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season after 18 years in NASCAR. It was also announced on that September day that Clint Bowyer would join HScott Motorsports in 2016 before replacing the retiring Stewart in 2017.

Stewart missed the first eight races of the 2016 season after suffering a lower back injury while riding sand dunes in January. Brian Vickers and Ty Dillon would fill in for Stewart while he nursed his injury. In his return at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart was able to finish in the 19th position. At Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart remained in the car until the first caution when Dillon would take over to help prevent anymore injury. This was the only time when Stewart did not finish a race. Stewart did not finish at Dover because of suspension damage. After terrible finishes at Charlotte and Pocono, Stewart began to heat up as the season went to the summer months. Over those summer months, Stewart was able to claim victory at Sonoma Raceway after a gutsy call by his crew chief, Mike Bugarwicz and a last lap pass in the final corner. This would end up being his final victory in the Sprint Cup Series. Stewart claimed seven top-15 finishes over the summer months with only one DNF at Talladega. However, Stewart began to cool off in mid-August. Stewart was able to make the Chase, but was eliminated in the first round. His only top-10 was a ninth place finish at Charlotte.

As the smoke settled on the career of Stewart as a NASCAR driver, Stewart had one of his better years after three dismal years. He was able to complete 7631 of the 7874 laps he ran in 2016. He was able to lead 36 laps over the season. He had five top-five’s, eight top-10’s, an average start of 24.8, an average finish of 18.3, and four DNF’s

For Kurt Busch, 2016 was a year of consistency. The season started off strong with a top-ten finish in the Daytona 500. Busch was also able to gain two poles at Atlanta and Las Vegas. He finished in the top-10 in the first four races, but that streak was broken at Fontana after a terrible weekend. Over the next eight weeks, he was able to finish in the top-10 in each race. His only win of 2016 came at Pocono Raceway in June without primary crew chief, Tony Gibson, on a race that was based on fuel strategy.  He followed the win with two top-10 finishes. Over the next 10 weeks, Busch had good weeks and bad weeks and only suffered two DNF’s at Darlington and Bristol. When the Chase began, the consistency continued. The first two rounds were consistent for Busch with top-20 finishes in all six races. In the third round, consistency was thrown out the window with a 22nd place finish at Martinsville and a 20th place finish at Texas. Busch was able to rebound at Phoenix with a fifth place finish, but came up short to compete for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had 36 starts in 2016. He competed in 10348 of 10523 laps in the 2016 season. He was able to lead 238 laps in the season. He had nine top-five finishes, 21 top-10 finishes, an average start of 12.1, an average finish of 12.0, and two DNF’s on the season.

For Kevin Harvick, 2016 was another great year despite not racing for a championship. The season started out in the first five races with five top-five finished and a win at Phoenix International Raceway where he edged Carl Edwards by .008 seconds. His top-five streak broke at Martinsville with a 17th place finish, but he quickly rebounded for three-top-five finishes. Harvick won his first pole at Richmond and then three weeks later at Dover. After much speculation about Harvick leaving SHR after 2017, the rumors were put to rest when he signed a long term contract extension. The next four races saw Harvick finish in the top-five four times before a crash at Daytona resulted in a 39th place finish. He was able to rebound with a pole at Kentucky and four more top-five finishes before a crash at Watkins Glen. Despite that wreck, Harvick captured victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Entering into the Chase, Harvick scored one more pole at Darlington and three more top-five finishes to become the regular season points leader. The opening round of the Chase saw Harvick have two bad finishes at Chicago and Dover, but his win at New Hampshire allowed for him to transfer into the next round. The second round kicked off with a 38th place finish at Charlotte, but a win at Kansas to move onto the third round. Harvick was consiststent in the third round, but a 20th place finish at Martinsville ruined his chances at a championship. Despite not being in the championship four, he scored the pole at Homestead and a third place finish to finish 2016.

Harvick competed in all 36 races. He competed in 10215 of 10523 laps in the season. He led 1384 laps throughout the season, and was the “regular” season point leader before the Chase began. He had 17 top-five’s, 27 top-10’s, an average start of 11.7, an average finish of 9.9, and only four DNF’s

2016 was another lackluster season for Danica Patrick. The season started with a 35th place finish in the Daytona 500 with a crash. Patrick’s best finish of 2016 came in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a finish in the 11th position. Her worst finish was 38th at Fontana when she was caught up in an accident on the speedway. She ended up finishing 24th in the final points standings.

Patrick competed in all 36 races. She competed in 10326 of 10523 laps in 2016. She only led 30 laps throughout the season. She had zero top-five’s, zero top-10’s , an average start of 25.1, an average finish of 22.0, and three DNF’s

Despite not contending for a championship, the 2016 was a year of transition for the Stewart-Haas organization. 2017 will be an interesting year for the organization with the transition to Ford and the addition of a NASCAR Xfinity Series program. It will also be interesting to see how Bowyer does in his first season with the organization. For Patrick, 2017 is a crucial year for her in NASCAR. Harvick and Busch should come back even stronger in 2017