Opinion: Team New Year's Resolutions
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on January 6, 2017 | 9:45 A.M. EST
The start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is right around the corner. (Photo: Getty Images)
We’re almost a week into 2017 and the expiration date for wishing folks a Happy New Year is fast approaching. So while the turn of the calendar page is still fresh, Pete Pistone presents resolutions for a number of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams:
The reigning championship team has a couple of things on its list. First is getting Dale Earnhardt Jr. competitive and relevant. Now that he’s been medically cleared of his concussion injuries, Earnhardt needs to contend for wins, get a spot in the Chase and challenge for a championship. Hendrick also has to find a way for Kasey Kahne and the No. 5 team to run as well or better as it did during the latter part of 2016 for the whole campaign.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Team owner Joe Gibbs must find a way to keep harmony among his four drivers, who all made the Chase last year. The quartet was ultra successful all season long but there were signs of stress among Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards at times. The coach will need to ensure all remain on the same page in 2017.
Getting both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski back to the Chase is at the top of the list. The Penske bunch has team get Keselowski to go deeper into the "playoffs" and join Logano as a Championship 4 entrant.
Life without Tony Stewart begins with Clint Bowyer now in the fold. But SHR cannot miss a step in its transition from Chevrolet to Ford while ensuring Bowyer and Danica Patrick can up their competitiveness from recent seasons.
Furniture Row Racing
The organization expands to a two-car effort in 2017 and must keep Martin Truex Jr. as strong as he’s been in recent seasons while nurturing rookie Erik Jones in its second entry.
Chip Ganassi Racing
After putting both drivers in last year’s Chase, CGR must build on that success and not let either Kyle Larson or Jamie McMurray take a step backwards. Getting McMurray to Victory Lane is a key.
Richard Childress Racing
Speaking of Victory Lane, RCR needs to return there and end a three-year drought. Austin Dillon appears to be the team’s best bet to do so.
JTG Daugherty Racing
The talk of expanding to a second car has been around this organization for years. It becomes a reality in 2017 with Chris Buescher joining AJ Allmendinger as a teammate. Getting both drivers into the top 15 of the standings and at least one in the Chase is the goal.
Roush Fenway Racing
The now streamlined RFR effort has Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading the tandem. Consistent finishes that add up to top-15 point standing finishes for each would be tremendous progress in getting the Roush team back to prominence.
Ty Dillon is in for Casey Mears while the team maintains its alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Not a great deal is expected from this organization but a top-15 points finish for Dillon would be considered a major step forward.
Richard Petty Motorsports
Will a single-car effort get RPM back to the Chase? We’ll find out in 2017 with only Aric Almirola behind the wheel for "The King." Ending the year inside the top 20 of the standings should be the goal.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.