Five Comeback Drivers for 2018

J.Logano

MRN's Pete Pistone says Joey Logano is among the NASCAR drivers looking for a reversal of fortune from last year as they prepare for the 2018 season. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Five drivers are looking for a reversal of fortune from last year as they prepare for the 2018 NASCAR season.

Joey Logano
The Team Penske driver has the dubious distinction of suffering what might be the harshest penalty in NASCAR history. Logano’s spring Richmond win was classified as encumbered due to a rear-end suspension infraction discovered in post-race inspection. While the win stands in the record book, it was disallowed as an automatic entry into the playoffs. Logano struggled the rest of the regular season and went winless, missing the playoffs. A driver who many picked as the 2017 Cup Series champion will be motivated to erase the bitter memory.

Kyle Larson
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 and won four times. As the campaign wore on, Larson was considered one of the "Big Three" with Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in terms of being a championship contender. But a disastrous stretch in the playoffs that included four straight finishes of 39th, 37th, 37th and 40th ended Larson’s hopes of competing for the crown.

Jimmie Johnson
It seems strange to think of any driver who won three times in need of a comeback season, but that certainly applies to Johnson. Sure, he’s a victim of his own success. But the fact is that a driver with seven career Cup Series titles and 83 wins is expected to be in the championship hunt every year. A mediocre regular season after those three wins morphed into playoff frustration and the elusive switch that Johnson’s fans kept waiting for never was flipped. Johnson will be out to prove he can return to championship form in 2018.

AJ Allmendinger
The JTG Daugherty Racing driver more than likely wants to erase the memory of the 2017 season, when it seemed nothing could go right. A 27th-place finish in the point standings was not what Allmendinger expected going into the year that was filled with optimism as the organization grew from a one- to a two-car team, adding Chris Buescher. But Allmendinger struggled at every type track on the schedule including road courses in Sonoma and Watkins Glen, where he’s usually considered a favorite.

Elliott Sadler
Perhaps no driver experienced a more bitter ending to their season than Sadler did last year. He was locked into an XFINITY Series title battle with JR Motorsports teammate and eventual champion William Byron lap after lap in the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale. But Sadler lost his shot at running down Byron when he got caught in another battle for position with Ryan Preece, eventually making contact with the wall. That ended his hopes for a first career title and triggered an emotional reaction from Sadler in the aftermath. The popular veteran definitely has his eyes set on the prize again in 2018.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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