All I Want for Christmas is a Monster Energy Cup Ride

Welcome back race fans!

In this episode, we are taking a quick look at the 2018 Silly Season.

There were lots of rumors in the last part of the season and many of those came true. In fact, some were not even very well-kept secrets and others were shots out of the blue. A real youth movement is upon us. You add in the new kids and those who have been moving around in the Xfinity and Truck Series and there will be a whole lot of changes in the coming years.

Let’s start with the worst kept move, Martin Truex, Jr. moving to Joe Gibbs racing, replacing Daniel Suarez. Truex keeps his crew chief and stays with Toyota, so good all around, right? Gibbs looks stacked for 2019 with Denny Hamlin (complete with new crew and car chief), Kyle Busch, Truex and Erik Jones. Can you see the 2019 Championship trophy dancing in their eyes? What is not so good….?

Daniel Suarez leaves Gibbs with no plan for 2019 as of yet. While he ran hot and cold at times in his first two years, many felt he was on the verge of winning. Evidently that was not enough once Erik Jones won a race. Gibbs was right to jump all over Truex, but it is most unfortunate Suarez isn’t feeling the love right now. There are several teams that will be racing rookies next year when Suarez, a known entity and not a bad one, was available. The one good, open seat is the 41 car at Stewart-Hass racing. Stay tuned.

The next worst kept secret was Kurt Busch moving to Chip Ganassi Racing (with Felix Sabates) and knocking Jamie McMurray from his ride. Chip has already stated that he wants Jamie Mac to stay on in management, but that deal isn’t done yet. If McMurray hangs up his Cup helmet, I would like to see him still participate in the Rolex 24 and other such races.

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus splitting up had to be the shocker breakup of the season. Chad moves to the 24 with William Byron and Jimmie gets Kevin Meendering. If Johnson takes off under new tutelage and Byron stalls at all, watch out for the Knaus haters. Knaus will really need to reset to help a much younger, inexperienced driver.

Matt Kenseth has waved farewell to Roush Fenway again. I am not sure what was accomplished in 2018 with him splitting time with Trevor Bayne who is also without a ride in 2019 — unless Jack Roush calls him in case Ryan Newman bombs.

Ryan Newman leaves Richard Childress and moves to the number 6 at Roush Fenway.

Trevor Bayne is out of his number 6 ride for 2019 and has no plans as of yet. That couldn’t have been too much of a shock considering Matt Kenseth splitting the ride in 2018.

Daniel Hemric will take over the 31 car from Newman.

AJ Allmendinger leaves JTG Daugherty Racing and has no new plans for a Cup ride yet. Like McMurray, I would like to see AJ in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Ryan Preece will move up for his rookie season to take over the 47 car vacated by Allmendinger. Chris Buescher had an OK year, but 2019 may really be a down year for JTGD. At least with AJ you knew the road courses would be giving you a real shot at a win.

Matt Tifft will move to the 36 car to join teammates Michael McDowell and David Ragan. Sponsorship has still not been announced so we’ll see if this move to a third car will be helpful.

Matt Dibenedetto moves to Leavine Family Racing, replacing Kasey Kahne. While Kane didn’t set the world on fire at Leavine, they have a decent program and this could be a good move for Matt.

Kasey Kahne leaves Leavine and is retiring from the Cup series, focusing on Sprint Cars.

Tanner Berryhill moves up to join Obaika Racing. They bought cars and equipment from the defunct BK Racing and no word yet on a charter, so we’ll see how long this will last.

Spire Motorsports bought the 78 charter but no word yet on sponsorship or a driver. Maybe Daniel Suarez if he doesn’t end up in the 41?

Hope you had an enjoyable 2018 season. Congrats to Joey Logano for coming on strong when it counted most! He may not be the most liked, or even most hated, but he is one thing no one can take away now; the 2018 Cup Champion.

(image courtesy of NASCAR Media)

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