2019 season in review

Tyler Reddick
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2019 Season in Review: Tyler Reddick

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Tyler Reddick

CREW CHIEF: Randall Burnett

TEAM: Richard Childress Racing

POINTS: First

WINS: Six, career best (Talladega, Charlotte I, MIchigan, Bristol II, Las Vegas II, Miami)

LAPS LED: 568, career best

TOP 5s: 24, career best

TOP 10s: 27, career best

POLES: Five, career best

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Almost everything. On his way to a second consecutive Xfinity Series championship, Reddick had three DNFs for wrecks. As a result, he only finished outside the top 10 six times all year. He didn’t have the most wins, but he was as consistent as you can get, at one point finishing in the top five in 10-straight races and then putting together an eight-race streak later in the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: His three DNFs, that’s about it.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: Reddick moves up to the Cup Series as a two-time defending Xfinity Series champion. He’ll be part of the very deep rookie class as he competes against fellow Xfinity drivers Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek.

2019 Season in Review: Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr.
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Martin Truex Jr.

CREW CHIEF: Cole Pearn

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

POINTS: 2nd

WINS: Seven (Richmond I, Dover I, Coke 600, Sonoma, Las Vegas II, Richmond II and Martinsville II)

LAPS LED: 1,371

TOP 5s: 15

TOP 10s: 21

POLES: None

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Martin Truex Jr. acclimated well in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, earning a series-leading seven wins. That included his first Cup Series win on a short track in the Richmond spring race, his second Coke 600 win and winning three times in the playoffs.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Truex likely had the best car in the championship race in Miami. But a fluke on pit road that caused the wrong tires to be put on each side of his car resulted in an unscheduled pit stop in the middle of the race. Truex quickly got got his lap back, but he didn’t have enough to track down eventual winner and champion Kyle Busch.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: After producing 24 wins and one championship over the last five years, Truex will have a new crew chief in 2020 after the surprising resignation of Cole Pearn earlier this month. His replacement will be the team’s lead engineer, James Small, who is no stranger, having been with Truex and Pearn for the last three seasons. Whether Truex can maintain his momentum in the new season with a new voice on the pit box will be a significant storyline.

2019 Season in Review: Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin
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Denny Hamlin

CREW CHIEF: Chris Gabehart

TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing

POINTS: Fourth

WINS: Six (Daytona 500, Texas I, Pocono II, Bristol II, Kansas II and Phoenix II)

LAPS LED: 922

TOP 5s: (career best)

TOP 10s: 24 (career best)

POLES: Three

WHAT WENT RIGHT: After going winless in 2018 for the first time in his full-time Cup career, Hamlin produced one of the best seasons of his career. His six wins were his most since 2010. In a must-win scenario in the final playoff elimination race, he did just that, beating teammate Kyle Busch at Phoenix.

WHAT WENT WRONG: While he didn’t have the best season finale to begin with, Hamlin’s championship hopes evaporated late in the Miami race when crew chief Chris Gabehart chose to put a large piece of tape on Hamlin’s grille. That resulted in the car starting to overheat and Hamlin having an unscheduled pit stop.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: Hamlin accomplished a lot with crew chief Chris Gabehart, who was in his first full-time season as a Cup crew chief. It will be intriguing to see if the pair can accomplish even loftier achievements in their second season together.

2019 Season in Review: Kyle Larson

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Kyle Larson

CREW CHIEF: Chad Johnston

TEAM: Chip Ganassi Racing

POINTS: Sixth

WINS: One (Dover II)

LAPS LED: 529

TOP 5s: Eight

TOP 10s: 17

POLES: One (Sonoma)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Larson snapped a 75-race winless streak with his Dover victory in the playoffs. His Round of 8 appearance was the deepest a Chip Ganassi Racing driver has made it in the playoffs.

WHAT WENT WRONG: While he won a race, the rest of Larson’s 2019 was statistically a step down from last year in almost every category, with fewer top fives, top 10s, laps led and a worse average finish (15.1 compared to 12.6 in 2018). Larson didn’t finish in the top five until race No. 11 on the season.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: Larson will have a second year to work with teammate Kurt Busch, who helped step up Chip Ganassi Racing’s efforts in his first year with the program, which had two drivers win races for the first time since 2010.

2019 Season in review: Chase Elliott

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Chase Elliott

CREW CHIEF: Alan Gustafson

TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports

POINTS: 10th

WINS: Three (Talladega I, Watkins Glen and Charlotte Roval). Tied his total from 2018.

LAPS LED: 601 (Most in his four full-time seasons)

TOP 5s: 11

TOP 10s: 15 (career worst in four full-time seasons)

POLES: Four, career best (Bristol I, Dover I, Watkins Glen, Talladega II)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Earned his first superspeedway win in Cup and repeated as winner at Watkins Glen. He put on a stunning performance on the Roval when he came back to win after he plowed into the Turn 1 tire barrier in the middle of the race.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Any hopes Elliott and the No. 9 team had of topping their 2018 season came crashing down in the Round of 8. Elliott finished 32nd or worse in all three races, capping it off with a wreck in the final elimination race on Lap 165. After his Roval win, he finished in the top five once, at Kansas Speedway in the Round of 12 when he capitalized on a late wreck to finish second.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2020: 2020 will be the last season Elliott has Jimmie Johnson as a full-time teammate. It will be interesting to see how Elliott transitions into a leadership role as he’ll be the most tenured Hendrick driver once 2021 arrives.