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Silly Season Updates

A look at some of the latest Silly Season updates and news regarding driver and teams for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

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AJ Allmendinger 

2018 Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
2019 Plans: TBD
Years in Cup: 13
Cup Series Wins: 1
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 3rd (Daytona 2)

JTG Daugherty Racing announced on September 25 that they are moving in a different direction for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and that Allmendinger will be released at the end of the 2018 season.

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Trevor Bayne

2018 Team: Roush Fenway Racing
2019 Plans: TBD
Years in Cup: 9
Cup Series Wins: 1
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 11th (Bristol 2)

Trevor Bayne has been splitting the driving duties of the No. 6 Ford with Matt Kenseth since May. Since Kenseth joined the team, Bayne has competed in five races with his best finish coming in the Bristol Night race, 11th. Jack Roush said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on September 13 that Bayne will not be returning to drive the No. 6 in 2019 (Read More).

Tanner Berryhill 2018Tanner Berryhill

2018 Team: Obaika Racing
2019 Team: Obaika Racing
Years in Cup: 1 (2 Races)
Cup Series Wins: 0
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 31st (Phoenix 2)

Obaika Racing announced on December 3 that Tanner Berryhill will be the full-time driver of the No. 97 Toyota for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Berryhill made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2018 with Obaika Racing, competing in the final two races of the season at ISM Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has made 40 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in previous years.

Getty ImagesKurt Busch

2018 Team: Stewart-Haas Racing
2019 Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Years in Cup: 19
Cup Series Wins: 30 | 2004 Champion
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 1st (Bristol 2)

Chip Ganassi Racing announced on December 4 that Kurt Busch will drive the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019. Busch, who replaces Jamie McMurray in the No. 1, has spent the past five seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing.

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Matt DiBenedetto

2018 Team: GoFas Racing
2019 Plans: Leavine Family Racing
Years in Cup: 4
Cup Series Wins: 0
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 7th (Daytona 2)

Matt DiBenedetto announced on September 7 that he will be moving in a different direction in 2019 after two years with GoFas Racing. DiBenedetto says the move will give him the best opportunity to further his career and showcase his talent and ability at the highest level and that he’s taking a leap of faith and betting on himself to prove it. On October 10, Leavine Family Racing announced that DiBenedetto will join the team in 2019 and they will make a manufacturer change from Chevrolet to Toyota. LFR announced on November 27 that Mike Wheeler will be DiBenedetto’s crew chief. Wheeler just finished his third season as a crew chief in the Cup Series and has notched a career total of five wins, 37 top-5 finishes, and 61 top-10 finishes with Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing.

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Daniel Hemric

2018 Team: Richard Childress Racing
2019 Team: Richard Childress Racing
Cup Series Starts: 2
Cup Series Wins: 0
Best Cup Finish: 23rd (Charlotte Roval)

Richard Childress Racing announced on September 28 a promotion for Daniel Hemric to drive the No. 31 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beginning in 2019. Further announcements on sponsors and other details will be made at a later date, but the team expects many of the current partners with the No. 31 team to return. Childress said they haven’t ruled out a possible number change to the 8, which Hemric has raced in Cup this season for the team. Luke Lambert will be Hemric’s crew chief in the Cup Series. Danny Stockman, who spent the last two seasons with Hemric in the Xfinity Series, will be the crew chief of the No. 3 Cup Series team with Austin Dillon.

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Kasey Kahne

2018 Team: Leavine Family Racing
2019 Plans: Retiring from full-time Cup Racing
Years in Cup: 15
Cup Series Wins: 18
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 4th (Daytona 1)

Kasey Kahne announced on August 16 that 2018 will be his last full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Three weeks later, Kahne missed the Brickyard 400 and the next four races because of heat exhaustion following the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. After a test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kahne announced on social media on October 9 that he was not medically cleared to return behind the wheel of the No. 95 Chevrolet for the remaining races. He wrote, “My body just can’t handle extended periods of time in the race car and we weren’t able to control the sweat ratio to keep me hydrated enough to prevent any permanent damage to my body.”

Getty ImagesJamie McMurray

2018 Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
2019 Plans: TBD
Years in Cup: 17
Cup Series Wins: 7
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 2nd (Charlotte Roval)

The Associated Press has reported that Chip Ganassi has offered Jamie McMurray driver a contract for just for the 2019 Daytona 500 and then a leadership position with the team. McMurray, who has not announced his plans, has captured five of his seven career wins with Ganassi, including his first win back in 2002 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Ryan Newman

2018 Team: Richard Childress Racing
2019 Team: Roush Fenway Racing
Years in Cup: 19
Cup Series Wins: 18
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 6th (New Hampshire)

Ryan Newman will join Roush Fenway Racing to drive the No. 6 Ford in 2019. The move comes after Newman announced on September 15 via Twitter that he will not return to Richard Childress Racing next season. As for Matt Kenseth, who drives the No. 6 car part-time this season, the team is still in talks with him to see if he will remain with the team in some capacity. Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, said at Newman’s press conference that Kenseth wasn’t prepared to run full-time in 2019. The team announced on October 23 that Scott Graves will be Newman’s crew chief.

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Ryan Preece

2018 Team: Joe Gibbs Racing (NXS)
2019 Team: JTG Daugherty Racing
Cup Series Starts: 5 (2015)
Cup Series Wins: 0
Best Cup Finish: 32nd (New Hamphsire)

Ryan Preece will join JTG Daugherty Racing in 2019. Preece, who has two Xfinity Series wins with Joe Gibbs Racing, will finish the 2018 season with JGR before going to JTG where he will be teammates with Chris Buescher. The team will use Hendrick engines in 2019. (Read More)

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Daniel Suárez

2018 Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
2019 Team: TBD
Years in Cup: 2
Cup Series Wins: 0
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 2nd (Pocono 2)

Daniel Suárez will be with a new team in 2019 after Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Martin Truex Jr. will drive the No. 19 Toyota next season. Suárez said at Richmond on September 21 that “we’re talking to a lot of people.” One possible option for Suárez is Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 car. “We really appreciate everything Daniel has done for Joe Gibbs Racing over these past several years,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “He has made the most of every opportunity from winning the championship in the Xfinity Series to making the jump into the Cup Series for us. We look forward to hearing about his plans going forward and know he continues to have a bright future in our sport.”

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Matt Tifft

2018 Team: Richard Childress Racing (NXS)
2019 Team: Front Row Motorsports
Cup Series Starts: 0
Xfinity Series Starts: 77
Best Career Xfinity Finish: 2nd (Road America)

Front Row Motorsports will expand to three cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Matt Tifft driving the No. 36. The announcement was made on November 27 and Tifft will join Michael McDowell and David Ragan at FRM. Tifft finished sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship this season, earning six top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in his 2018 campaign with Richard Childress Racing, making it to the Round of 8 in the series playoffs.

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Martin Truex Jr.

2018 Team: Furniture Row Racing
2019 Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Years in Cup: 15
Cup Series Wins: 19 | 2017 Champion
Best 2018 Cup Finish: 1st (Auto Club, Pocono, Sonoma, Kentucky)

Furniture Row Racing announced on September 4 that they will cease operations following the completion of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series due to a lack of necessary funding to field a competitive team. Joe Gibbs Racing announced on November 7 that Truex, along with crew chief Cole Pearn will join the No. 19 team in 2019. Sponsorship for the No. 19 Toyota for next season is still being formulated and will be announced at a later date.