Pete Pistone gives the final rankings for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams in 2019.
Joe Gibbs Racing
A historic run for JGR putting 19 wins on the board over the 36 races season and adding another championship trophy to the mantle courtesy of Kyle Busch. The Gibbs organization was by far the class of the field from the start of the year with Denny Hamlin’s Daytona 500 win and rode that hot streak to the NASCAR record book in 2019.
The only other team to put a driver in the Championship 4 other than JGR was SHR and Kevin Harvick. Although he wasn’t quite as strong as a year ago, Harvick was still the lead dog of the organization with four wins and had a shot at a second career Cup title. Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez couldn’t put up the same numbers as the year prior but SHR still had a solid campaign overall.
The team got out of the gate strong with multiple wins from Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano but things slowed down as the season moved forward. Ryan Blaney also grabbed a post-season berth to give “The Captain” three drivers in the playoff hunt but the Penske group wasn’t able to score back-to-back championships after Logano’s 2018 crown.
There were certainly some bright spots in the Hendrick stable this year led by Chase Elliott’s three wins. Alex Bowman also scored his first career Cup win at Chicagoland Speedway and there was progress from William Byron, who also made the playoffs. But Elliott had a disastrous Round of 8 in the playoffs and Jimmie Johnson remained winless in what will be his second to last full-time season after announcing his retirement would come after next year.
Chip Ganassi Racing
A pair of wins from Ganassi teammates Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson were the 2019 highlights for CGR. Busch made a huge impact in his first year as driver of the team’s No. 1 Chevrolet while Larson was finally able to break a more than two-year winless drought. Neither was able to make it through the playoffs to the Championship 4 but there were some positive signs at CGR this season.
Roush Fenway Racing
Not quite a complete return to prominence for Jack Roush’s team but definitely a step in the right direction thanks mainly to Ryan Newman. The veteran driver came over from Richard Childress Racing and drove the team’s No. 6 car into the playoffs in remarkable fashion. Teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. struggled in what turned out to be his final year with Roush before moving on to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2020 but Newman’s performance has generated optimism within the organization.
Wood Brothers Racing
Paul Menard will ride into retirement after a 2019 campaign that saw the veteran driver turn in a 19th-place finish in the point standings. Menard scored four top-10 finishes in a season that paved the way for Matt DiBenedetto to take over the iconic ride next season.
Leavine Family Racing
Speaking of DiBenedetto, he provided a number of stories behind the wheel of the No. 95 entry including nearly winning at Bristol in August. This team will have a stronger alliance with JGR next season as Christopher Bell takes over the Toyota but 2019 will be remembered as a very positive step in the right direction for LFR.
Richard Childress Racing
A very disappointing campaign for RCR as Austin Dillon and rookie Daniel Hemric struggle mightily. Although there was speed in qualifying as evident from Dillon’s three poles and one from Hemric, in race mode things were quite different and the duo could only muster one top-five finish between them.
JTG Daugherty Racing
Not a bad year for the two-car tandem of Chris Buescher and rookie Ryan Preece. Buescher finished 20th in the standings on the strength of four top-10 finishes while Preece had a top-five and three top-10 runs. Buescher moves on to Roush Fenway Racing in 2020 while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes his spot in the No. 37 next to Preece.