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Ready to Rumble

By on March 1, 2019

2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

As with every recent season, plenty of 2019 rules changes await Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams and fans. Whether NASCAR hits a monster home run, a bunt single or strikes out remains to be seen. The key changes designed to tighten up the competition follow.

At 17 Races Horsepower will be cut back from 750 to 550 on tracks longer than one mile by reducing the engine spacer hole to 0.922 inches from 1.17 inches. Aeroducts will also be installed on the front end. The aeroducts move air to the nose of the trailing car, helping prevent the aero push when a car loses downforce and can’t pass as a result of being too close to the car in front. The Daytona 500 is excluded.

At 5 Races The new spacer without the aero ducts will be used at both Pocono races plus Atlanta, Darlington and Homestead.

At All Races A taller 8-inch spoiler, a larger front splitter and a wider radiator pan will be used to help increase downforce and decrease speeds, stabilizing handling. NASCAR officials say they’re trying to slow the cars down to the speeds attained during the 1990s. Some observers say it’s less about speed and more about reducing aero dependency.

“The 2019 rules package was put in place because we want to have the most competitive racing we can,” said NASCAR president Steve Phelps at a January press event. “We believe the new rules will do exactly that. What effect it has on TV ratings or other things that are outside of our control, I can’t say. We have promised close, competitive, side-by-side racing to our fans. We believe this 2019 rules package will do exactly that.”

Bowtie Brigade Bounce Back?

In 2017, Toyota brought a new Camry body to the NASCAR Cup Series. Camrys went on to win 16 races lead by Martin Truex Jr. claiming the championship. During the 10 playoff races, Chevrolet went without a win. Anticipation was high with the 2018 introduction of the Camaro ZL1. But, on-track results lagged. Things looked promising when Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500, but the Chevy camp then went winless until Chase Elliott tallied his first Cup win at Watkins Glen.

For the first time since the introduction of the Championship 4 in 2014, Chevy had no participants during 2017 and struck out again last year. In total, the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 picked up just four 2018 wins compared to 10 Chevy wins during 2017. The rush to hire a bunch of young guns lacking experience didn’t work out exactly as planned, and veterans like Jimmie Johnson had disappointing seasons. With three wins in the last 14 races, however, Chase Elliott established a better trajectory during 2018’s second half, giving Bowtie fans some cause for optimism during 2019.

Notable Driver Changes

Whether you call it the silly season or the continued changing of the guard, 2019 is marked by fewer but notable driver changes:

  • 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr. to the No. 19 Toyota at
    Joe Gibbs Racing
  • Kurt Busch to the No. 1 Chevrolet at Chip Ganassi Racing
  • Ryan Newman to the No. 6 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing
  • Daniel Suarez to the No. 41 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing
  • Matt DiBenedetto to the No. 95 Toyota at Leavine
    Family Racing
  • Corey LaJoie to the No. 32 Ford at Go Fas Racing

Editors’ 2019 Picks

Will Joey Logano defend his 2018 championship for Ford? Will a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver win it all? Can Casey Elliott mount a serious Chevrolet challenge? But first things first. What drivers and teams will make the playoffs? Divided into three categories by car numbers, following are 24 RoadKing editors’ picks to contend for the 16-car 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field after the 26th race at Indianapolis. 

Real-Deal 8

2 Brad Keselowski (F) 

4 Kevin Harvick (F)

9 Chase Elliott (C)

11 Denny Hamlin (T)

12 Ryan Blaney (F)

18 Kyle Busch (T)

19 Martin Truex Jr. (T)

22 Joey Logano (F)

Good-Shot 8

10 Aric Almirola (F)

14 Clint Bowyer (F)

20 Erik Jones (T)

24 William Byron (C)

41 Daniel Suarez (T)

42 Kyle Larson (C)

48 Jimmie Johnson (C)

88 Alex Bowman (C) 

Here’s-Hoping 8

1 Kurt Busch (C)

3 Austin Dillon (C)

6 Ryan Newman (F)

8 Daniel Hemric (C)

13 Ty Dillon (C)

17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (F)

21 Paul Menard (F)

36 Matt Tifft (F) 

C = Chevrolet        F = Ford         T = Toyota

Good luck to all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors. Test your prediction skills by developing your own list of the 24 drivers who will contend for 16 Playoff spots during 2019. 

About Warren Eulgen

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