downforce rules package this year. After
two successful tests in races last season,
drivers are eagerly anticipating how the
LDP will put more race car control in their
hands. Some may need a while to get
used to it, but if it makes the racing better
as promised, it’ll be as much a winner as
the driver who earns the championship.
4 Is It Finally Junior’s Time? As he begins his 17th season, Dale
Earnhardt Jr. is still in search of his first
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Is this the year he breaks through and
rewards his ever-so-patient fans? Look for
the relationship with crew chief Greg Ives
to get even stronger in their second year
together. Junior is in the best place in his
life both personally and professionally. All
that’s missing is that elusive title.
5 It Won’t Be the Same. For the first ime in nearly a quarter-century, Jeff
Gordon will not be behind the wheel of the
No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Now retired from driving, Gordon has
traded in his steering wheel for a NASCAR
On FOX microphone. It’ll likely take some
getting used to the change, but let’s not
forget all the great memories, wins and
championships he left us with.
6 The Chase Elliott Era Begins. As Jeff Gordon departs, Chase Elliott
enters and begins his NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series career. Driving Gordon’s iconic
No. 24, Elliott is among four drivers in
contention for Sunoco Rookie of the Year
honors this season. But don’t put undue
pressure or overly high expectations on
him just yet. It took his father, NASCAR
Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, eight years before
he won his first Sprint Cup Series race.
7 Will the Train Keep Rolling? Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row
Racing were NASCAR’s version of the Little
Engine That Could in 2015. In reaching
the championship round, Furniture Row
Racing advanced the furthest of any
single-car team in the 12-year history of
the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Switching
from Chevrolet to Toyota and an alliance
with Joe Gibbs Racing will be an extra
bonus as Truex Jr. and his team attempt to
win it all.
8 Will Danica Continue to Improve? Danica Patrick enters her fourth
full-time season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series. She’s coming off her best finish
yet, 24th in 2015. While longtime sponsor
GoDaddy.com has departed, Patrick could
very well have a breakout season. We
predict she’ll potentially finish in the top
20, and with a bit of luck, might even earn
her first NASCAR victory.
9 Bowyer’s Layover. Clint Bowyer will be like a traveler with an airport
layover. He flew out of Michael Waltrip
Racing at the end of 2015, will spend