By: Kobe Lambeth
The 2016 Sprint Cup season is looking to be a memorable one! With Jeff Gordon retiring, we have Chase Elliott moving up to replace him. There are a few changes and new Sprint Cup drivers. Time to find out what the Sprint Cup Series is looking like in 2016!
Confirmed Full Season entries (34 cars)
1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet SS- McMurray will return to Chip Ganassi Racing. The typical sponsors will also return, along with Matt McCall as crew chief. The Number 1 team looks to improve on a very successful season in 2015.
2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford Fusion- Keselowski will return to Team Penske in 2016. Paul Wolfe will remain crew chief.
3 Austin Dillon Dow Chemical Chevrolet SS- Dillon will return to his grandfather’s team in 2016. The same sponsors will return, along with crew chief Slugger Labbe.
4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer/Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS- This team will remain mostly unchanged in 2016. Budweiser is gone and Busch Beer has arrived. You will see other familiar sponsors on the Number 4 car. Rodney Childers will remain crew chief.
5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS- Kahne returns to Hendrick Motorsports in 2016. The car will see a few new sponsors, along with the familiar ones. Keith Rodden will remain crew chief.
6 Trevor Bayne Advocare Ford Fusion- Bayne returns to Roush Fenway Racing in 2016 after a disappointing rookie season. The entire team looks to improve in 2016. Bob Osborne will remain crew chief.
7 Alex Bowman Toy State Chevrolet SS- Bowman will return to Tommy Baldwin Racing. He will have new sponsors along with Golden Corral for the restrictor plate races.
9 Brian Scott Ford Fusion- Brian Scott moves to the Sprint Cup Series full-time. Shore Lodge will most likely continue to sponsor Scott as he moves to the world’s highest level of stock car racing. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. There should be a sponsorship announcement in the immediate future. Chris Heroy will be Scott’s crew chief.
10 Danica Patrick Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS- Patrick returns to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016. GoDaddy departs NASCAR and Patrick welcomes Nature’s Bakery as her new primary sponsor. Additional sponsors from 2015 will return. Billy Scott will be Patrick’s crew chief.
11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota Camry- Hamlin returns to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016. Mike Wheeler will be his crew chief.
13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet SS- Mears will return Germain Racing in 2016. It has not been confirmed if Bootie Barker will return.
14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet SS- In his final season, all of Stewart’s sponsors will return. After a dismal 2015 season, Stewart will have a new crew chief. Mike Bugarewicz will replace Chad Johnston as crew chief.
16 Greg Biffle Ford Fusion- There are rumors that 2016 will be Biffle’s final season in Sprint Cup. No sponsorship has been announced, but we should know by the end of January. Brian Pattie will be his crew chief.
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Fusion- Stenhouse Jr. will return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2016. We should see a sponsorship announcement very soon. Nick Sandler will be his crew chief.
18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota Camry- Rowdy will return as the defending Sprint Cup champion. All of Busch’s sponsors from 2015 should return. Adam Stevens will remain crew chief.
19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Toyota Camry- Edwards will return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016. All sponsors are expected to return. Dave Rogers will be Edwards’ crew chief.
20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General/Dewalt Toyota Camry- Kenseth will return to Joe Gibbs Racing after a controversial ending to the 2015 season. Jason Ratcliff will remain crew chief.
21 Ryan Blaney Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion- After running select Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup races in 2015, Blaney will finally move to Sprint Cup full-time with the Wood Brothers. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. This is the first full season for this team in forever. Jeremy Bullins will be Blaney’s crew chief.
22 Joey Logano Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion- Logano will return to Team Penske in 2016. Todd Gordon will remain crew chief.
24 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS- Chase Elliott will replace Jeff Gordon in 2016. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. 3M will sponsor the car in a few races. Other sponsors will be announced at a later date. Alan Gustafson will be Elliott’s crew chief.
27 Paul Menard Menard’s Chevrolet SS- Everything will remain the same in 2016. Same driver, same sponsor, and same crew chief Justin Alexander.
31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet SS- Newman will return to Richard Childress Racing in 2016. Luke Lambert will remain crew chief.
32 GO FAS Racing Ford Fusion- The team will run Jeffrey Earnhardt the majority of the season(depending on sponsorship). Bobby Labonte will return for the restrictor plate races. Official announcements about the 2016 program should come next month.
34 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- The 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion will move to the Sprint Cup series in 2016. He will run for Rookie of the Year honors. Roush Fenway Racing formed a technical alliance with Front Row Motorsports, which should help improve their entire program. Sponsorship announcements will come in the immediate future. Scott Graves will continue his partnership with Buescher as crew chief.
41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS- Busch will return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016. Monster Energy will be his new sponsor, which moves up from his brother Kyle’s Xfinity car. Tony Gibson will remain crew chief.
42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet SS- Larson will return to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016. All sponsors will return, and Chad Johnston will be his crew chief.
43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Foods Ford Fusion- Almirola will return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2016. Additional sponsors will be announced in the immediate future. Trent Owens will remain crew chief.
46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet SS- Annett will return to Harry Scott Motorsports in 2016. Having Clint Bowyer as a teammate should help him grow as a driver. Jay Guy will remain crew chief.
47 AJ Allmendinger JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet SS- Allmendinger will return to the team in 2016. Most of his sponsors from 2015 will return. Randall Burnett will be his crew chief.
48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS- Johnson will return to Hendrick Motorsports in 2016. Chad Knaus will remain crew chief.
78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry- Truex Jr. will return to the team in 2016. However, the team is switching to Toyota from Chevrolet. Cole Pearn will remain crew chief.
83 BK Racing Toyota Camry- No word on the current state of this team. If they return, expect Matt DiBenedetto to drive the car.
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet SS- Earnhardt Jr, will return to the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. He will have new and old sponsors joining the Number 88 car. Greg Ives will remain the crew chief.
Clint Bowyer 5 Hour Energy Chevrolet SS- Bowyer will race for Harry Scott Motorsports in 2016. He is moving on from Michael Waltrip Racing, which closed its doors following the 2015 season finale. Sponsorship and crew chief announcements should come by the end of January.
Possible Entries (9 cars)
Furniture Row Racing Toyota Camry- We could see Furniture Row field a second team in select races for Erik Jones. Now that the team has a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, this might be a potential home for Erik Jones in 2017.
Ty Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS- It is unknown whether or not Dillon will contest the full Sprint Cup or Xfinity Series schedules(depending on sponsorship).
12 Team Penske Ford Fusion- This is pure speculation, but the team could field a third entry for Juan Pablo Montoya at the Brickyard 400.
23 BK Racing Toyota Camry- Jeb Burton will most likely not return as he is pursuing other opportunities. This could be potential landing spots for Regan Smith, David Ragan, and Brett Moffit.
26 BK Racing Toyota Camry- Like Burton, Yeley is also not expected to return in 2016. Opens up another seat for drivers looking for a ride.
35 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- Cole Whitt is unlikely to return to the team, but anything is possible.
38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion- David Gilliand will most likely be searching for a new ride. No word on his potential replacement or the future of this team.
40 Hillman-Smith Motorsports Chevrolet SS- Landon Cassill could return in 2016, but he is exploring other options.
95 Leavine Family Racing Ford Fusion- Michael McDowell might return if the team continues. There has not been any announcements concerning this team’s future.
*Sprint Cup silly season is winding down and we pretty much know most of the field. However, there are a few rides available so drivers start calling!*