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Here’s what is new in 2018 for Cup teams

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A new year brings many changes. Such is the case for NASCAR teams. Here’s a look at some of the key changes heading into the 2018 season for Cup teams that have announced drivers for this season.

(Drivers are listed in order of their car number with where they finished in the points last year)

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (12th in points in 2017)

What’s new: Chip Ganassi Racing announced Wednesday that Doug Duchardt has been hired to be the organization’s chief operating officer.

What’s the same: McMurray is back for a ninth season with the team in his second stint there. Matt McCall begins his fourth season with McMurray.

 

No. 2 Brad Keselowski (4th)

What’s new: Discount Tire moves over to be a primary sponsor of Keselowski’s car for 10 races.

What’s the same: Keselowski is back with crew chief Paul Wolfe for an eighth consecutive season.

 

No. 3 Austin Dillon (11th)

What’s new: He has only one teammate, Ryan Newman, at Richard Childress Racing, with the team cutting back to two cars for 2018.

What’s the same: Crew chief Justin Alexander is back after being paired with Dillon in May 2017.

 

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (3rd)

What’s new: Wife DeLana delivered the couple’s second child, a daughter in late December.

What’s the same: Crew chief Rodney Childers is back for a fifth season with Harvick. Since they’ve been together, they’ve won one championship, scored 14 victories and captured 13 poles.

 

No. 6 Trevor Bayne (22nd)

What’s new: AdvoCare is back but with a new paint scheme for this season. 

What’s the same: Matt Puccia is back as Bayne’s crew chief. They’ve been together since the 2016 season.

 

No. 9 Chase Elliott (5th)

What’s new: A new number for the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

What’s the same: Crew chief Alan Gustafson is back and Elliott, who enters his third Cup season, seeks his first career series win.

 

No. 10 Aric Almirola (29th)

What’s new: A new ride for Almirola, as he moves from Richard Petty Motorsports to Stewart-Haas Racing. That’s just among the many changes. Almirola also will have a new crew chief. John Klausmeier, who has been an engineer with the organization since 2009 and filled in as in interim crew chief previously, moves into that position for Almirola’s team. And a new look. Smithfield joins Almirola in the move, but its car will be black and white.

What’s the same: Even with the move, Almirola is driving a Ford again. 

 

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (6th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Crew chief Mike Wheeler is back for his third season with Hamlin. They’ve combined to win five races and three poles the previous two seasons.

 

No. 12 Ryan Blaney (9th)

What’s new: A new team. Blaney moves from the Wood Brothers to a third entry for Team Penske. He’ll be teammates to Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Team Penske purchased a charter from Roush Fenway Racing for Blaney’s car.

What’s the same: Crew chief Jeremy Bullins joins Blaney in the move from the Wood Brothers to Team Penske.

 

No. 13 Ty Dillon (24th)

What’s new: Crew chief Matt Borland joins the team from Richard Childress Racing.

What’s the same: Germain Racing remains aligned with Richard Childress Racing.

 

No. 14 Clint Bowyer (18th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz is paired with Bowyer for a second season in a row.

 

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (13th)

What’s new: Stenhouse is no longer dating Danica Patrick

What’s the same: Crew chief Brian Pattie and Stenhouse are set to begin their second season together after winning two races and making the playoffs last season.

 

No. 18 Kyle Busch (2nd)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: This will be the fourth Cup season for crew chief Adam Stevens and Busch. They’ve won 14 races and 11 poles the past three seasons together.

 

No. 19 Daniel Suarez (20th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Suarez is back with Arris and Stanley as sponsors in 2018.

 

No. 20 Erik Jones (19th)

What’s new: A new driver in this car that Matt Kenseth had run the past five seasons. Also, crew chief Chris Gayle moves with Jones, the 2017 Cup rookie of the year, from Furniture Row Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2018 campaign.

What’s the same: The car has the same number as last year.

 

No. 21 Paul Menard (23rd)

What’s new: A new home for Menard, who goes from Richard Childress Racing to the Wood Brothers. Greg Erwin will be the new crew chief, taking over for Jeremy Bullins, who moves from the Wood Brothers to Team Penske with Ryan Blaney.

What’s the same: The Wood Brothers.

 

No. 22 Joey Logano (17th)

What’s new: Logano’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child in January.

What’s the same: Crew chief Todd Gordon is back for his sixth season with Logano. They’ve combined to win 16 races and 14 poles working together.

 

No. 24 William Byron (Did not race Cup in 2017)

What’s new: A new driver and new number for what had been the No. 5 team at Hendrick Motorsports. The Xfinity Series champion moves up from JR Motorsports. He’ll have Darian Grubb as his crew chief.

What’s the same: Liberty University, a longtime backer of Byron, is back as a sponsor.

 

No. 31 Ryan Newman (16th)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: Caterpillar, which has been a partner with Richard Childress Racing since 2009, will sponsor Newman’s car in select races in 2018.

 

No. 32 Matt DiBenedetto (32nd)

What’s new: No major changes have been announced.

What’s the same: DiBenedetto is back with the team for a second consecutive year.

 

No. 34 Michael McDowell (26th)

What’s new: New ride for McDowell, who moves from Leavine Family Racing to Front Row Motorsports and joins David Ragan at that organization. Front Row Motorsports also has expanded its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing.

What’s the same: Team remains in the Ford camp.

 

No. 37 Chris Buescher (25th)

What’s new: The team purchased a charter after leasing one last season.

What’s the same: Buescher is back for his second year with the team.

 

No. 38 David Ragan (30th)

What’s new: He has a new teammate with Michael McDowell joining the team and replacing Landon Cassill.

What’s the same: Ragan is back for his fifth season (in two stints) with Front Row Motorsports.

 

No. 41 Kurt Busch (14th)

What’s new: Is what’s old. Busch is back with Stewart-Haas Racing as is sponsor Monster Energy after his contract option was not picked up last season amid questions about sponsorship. Busch also has a new crew chief. Billy Scott moves from the No. 10 team to be Busch’s crew chief this season. Scott replaces Tony Gibson, who moves into a position at the shop.

What’s the same: The car number for Busch, who will enter his fifth season at Stewart-Haas Racing. 

 

No. 42 Kyle Larson (8th)

What’s new: A new sponsor for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver. Credit One will replace Target on the No. 42 Chevrolet in 2018. Also Larson got engaged to girlfriend Katelyn Sweet in December.

What’s the same: Larson will be teamed with crew chief Chad Johnston for a third consecutive year. They’ve combined to win five races and three poles together. 

 

No. 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. (50th)

What’s new: Wallace joins the team after running four races for Richard Petty Motorsports when Aric Almirola was injured last season. RPM also has switched from Ford to Chevrolet and formed an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and will get its engines from ECR Engines this season. Team also is adding sponsorship with Smithfield putting most of its resources with Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing. 

What’s the same: Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer returns to be Wallace’s crew chief.

 

No. 47 AJ Allmendinger (27th)

What’s new: No major changes announced.

What’s the same: This will be Allmendinger’s fifth season with JTG Daugherty Racing.

 

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (10th)

What’s new: No major changes announced.

What’s the same: He’s back with crew chief Chad Knaus for a 17th consecutive year.

 

No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (1st)

What’s new: A new moniker for Truex – reigning Cup champion. Also, the team is back to a one-car operation with the shuttering of the No. 77 team.

What’s the same: Champion crew chief Cole Pearn is back to lead this team.

 

No. 88 Alex Bowman (Did not race Cup in 2017)

What’s new: Bowman takes over the former ride of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports.

What’s the same: Greg Ives is back as the team’s crew chief.

 

No. 95 Kasey Kahne (15th)

What’s new: Kahne joins Leavine Family Racing, replacing Michael McDowell. Travis Mack, who had been the car chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team at Hendrick Motorsports, makes the move to be Kahne’s crew chief.

What’s the same: The car number for the team.

 

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Kevin and DeLana Harvick welcome second child, daughter Piper Grace

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Welcome to the world, Piper Grace Harvick.

Kevin and DeLana Harvick welcomed their second child, and first daughter, on Thursday, with Kevin making the announcement official on his Twitter page Saturday morning.

Piper Grace was born a little early. She was expected to arrive in early January.

Her older brother, five-year-old Keelan – who originally broke the news of his sister-to-be back in July on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – is excited to officially be a big brother now.

Mom, daughter, dad and big brother are all doing well.

Congratulations to the Harvicks and their newest family member.

Kevin Harvick on Cup drivers in Xfinity, Trucks: ‘Just let them race. Who cares?’

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Kevin Harvick, who once owned an Xfinity team and races in that series, voiced his displeasure Tuesday night with NASCAR’s rule to further limit Cup drivers in Xfintiy and Truck races next year.

“I know there are going to be a lot of people that disagree with me, but it’s hard when you’re trying to build a business and you’re trying to sell sponsorship, you have no tool greater than yourself when you’re in a situation like Brad (Keselowski), myself or Kyle (Busch),’’ Harvick said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hours.’’

“It seems you’re just getting your balls chopped off every time you try to go out and sell sponsorship to try to keep your team funded because of the fact you can’t run enough races, so you can’t tie it to enough things. To me, it’s not the right thing to do.’’

MORE: NASCAR further limits Cup drivers in Xfinity, Trucks 

MORE: Kyle Busch calls new rule “frustrating”

NASCAR announced Tuesday that all Cup drivers are prohibited from competing in the last eight races of the season for the Xfinity and Trucks — the regular-season finale and playoffs. Cup drivers are also prohibited from the Dash 4 Cash races.

Cup drivers with more than five years experience in that series are limited to seven Xfinity races (down from 10 this year) and five Truck races (down from seven this year). Harvick said that Cup drivers were going to be limited to five Xfinity races next year before a compromise of seven was set.

“Just let them race,’’ Harvick said. “Who cares? Why not just let them race. I don’t understand it. That’s what we do. We race cars, we race trucks, we race late models. That’s what we did all our life, we raced. I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s become a problem.’’

Harvick did say that he’s fine with Cup drivers being kept out of the playoffs in both series and the Dash 4 Cash races but they should not be kept out of any other races.

Harvick admits he’s biased toward team ownership because of his history. Harvick and wife DeLana owned Kevin Harvick Inc., which ran in NASCAR from 2002-11. The organization won Camping World Truck Series titles in 2007 and ’09 with Ron Hornaday Jr. and won the owner’s title in 2011. They sold the team after the 2011 season.

Harvick has said previously that allowing Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Truck Series gives young drivers in those series added experience of running against such competitors. He’s also expressed concerns about sponsorship since some sponsors want to be aligned with Cup drivers in those series.

Harvick said Tuesday on “Happy Hours” that Ryan Preece, who won this past weekend at Iowa Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing, would not have had a chance to drive that car had it not been for JGR using Cup drivers.

“Let me tell you this, Ryan Preece‘s car wouldn’t even been in existence if Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones didn’t have the sponsorship … for that 20 car to be on the race track,” Harvick said on his show.

“I agree with the opportunity (for young drivers) but sometimes you have to balance that opportunity with trying to run a business,’’ Harvick said Tuesday night. “When you’re cutting Kyle’s feet and Brad’s feet out from underneath them when they can’t do what they want to do, then it becomes hard for the teams to do what they need to do.

“I think what you’re going to see happen, when you run out of those options, those Xfinity sponsors are going to start plugging holes on the Cup side and they’re still going to get the Cup driver that they want … because they’re going to put their money on the Cup car.’’

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Keelan Harvick has big family news: he’s going to be a big brother soon

Image courtesy Kevin Harvick official Twitter page
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There’s big news in the Harvick family. The question is who has the bigger news: Kevin and wife DeLana are going to have a second child, or son Keelan will become a big brother for the first time.

Momma and Papa Harvick left it to Keelan to make the big announcement on social media that he’ll soon have a little sister.

Kevin then discussed it further on his weekly Happy Hours show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Congratulations to the Harvicks. The big happy family will soon be a bit bigger.

 

Kevin then took Keelan’s message to Tuesday’s edition of Happy Hour on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:

Kevin Harvick addresses how he will know when it is time to retire

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement that he’ll retire from the Cup series at the end of this season has the focus turning to other drivers age 40 and older and when they might leave the sport.

Former champion Kevin Harvick, who is 41, addressed how much longer he’ll race on his show “Happy Hours” Tuesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“I can tell you that I have four more years left on my contact at Stewart-Haas Racing,’’ said Harvick, who signed an extension last year with the organization. “To me that would be the time when you sit back and re-evaluate things as to what you do going forward, just for the fact of where is (son) Keelan at in school? It’s very important for us to be involved as parents That’s my main priority to be the father figure in his life and make sure he’s progressing and doing the things he needs to do moving forward. There’s definitely a family aspect of that decision and where we are as a family and how the sport is affecting our life.

“I think from a competition side of things, that’s what drives me. I love the fact of the challenge that comes with, ‘All right, we’re not running good, what have we go to do to fix things?’ When you’re running good, how do you maintain those things.

“That competition of pulling into that garage every week and looking over at the guy next to you and saying, ‘Man I want to kick that guy’s butt, and I want to run good this week,’ and the motivation of showing up at the shop and being a part of the team — when that goes away that’s probably when I’ll just say, ‘Adios.’ ’’

Harvick was on the show with wife DeLana, who talked about how their plans have changed over the years.

“The funny thing is when Kevin first started and we got married (in 2001), we both agreed it was going to be 40,’’ she said of when he would retire from racing. “That was our drop-dead date, he was going to retire at 40 no matter what had happened. We passed that.

“When you’re younger, you sort of try to put things into perspective. We never thought we’d be 40 when we were in our 20s. Now we’re here in our 40s. Part of the reason that we waited to have Keelan so much later is that Kevin wanted to be a part of those things. I don’t know if he actually knows that because I ask him all the time with everybody with Jeff, Tony and Carl and now obviously with Dale Jr. I kind of try to poke and prod a little bit, and I don’t get very far with him because I’m not sure that it’s something these guys ever really like to think about. That was a question I have for you, Kevin, when you see your peers starting to do this, is it something that becomes more present in your mind? Do bad days make it worse, or how do you sort of compartmentalize as it comes to your career?’’

Said Harvick: “I think you’re always thinking about when do you retire.  When is the right time to retire, especially when you get into a certain part of your life? I think performance definitely has a lot to do with it.

“As you look at running good or running bad, you look at a situation like (Greg) Biffle had, it all just timed out wrong, and he wound up not doing anything this year and out of the car. Dale announcing his retirement. I think when you look at Tony’s situation, there were a number of things that happened that led up to Tony saying, ‘I’m done with it’  maybe had something to do with in the car, out of the car, but there were some things that led up to that. I think when you looked at Jeff, I think he just said ‘OK I’m going to retire here because of whatever reasons.’ I think it’s different for everybody.

“When you look at my situation, I’m kind of a late bloomer on the racing side of things because we’ve had so much success over ether last three years at Stewart-Haas Racing, winning a championship That’s the performance that I’ve wanted my whole career. It’s not like we didn’t perform well at RCR, but we didn’t win a championship. We won races, but we’ve done it consistently over the last three years. For me that’s the most fulfilling part of what I do and what I put into my career.’’

Harvick, the 2014 champion, enters Sunday’s Cup race at Richmond International Raceway ninth in the points after his third-place finish on Monday at Bristol.

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