Many big questions as NASCAR reaches offseason
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
NASCAR will crown its final champion of the 2018 season today at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The big prize, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, is on the line in what has shaped up to be quite a battle between Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick.
But as the season ends and the 2019 Daytona 500 looms just three months away, there are plenty of unanswered questions across NASCAR’s three national series, from driver and team lineups even to the sport’s leadership.
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Here are some of the news items we await answers on ahead of the season finale and into the offseason:
NASCAR and ISC: Last week NASCAR announced it made an offer to acquire International Speedway Corporation, with the goal of combining the sanctioning body with ISC as one privately run group. We await word on whether the non-France family stockholders will either agree or not agree to accept the bid.
Brian France: Is his tenure with NASCAR done or will he return? France’s future has not been clarified or spoken about as he continues to deal with matters related to his August arrest in New York.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 Chevrolet: Jamie McMurray will not be back in ‘19; team owner Chip Ganassi has offered him a Daytona 500 ride, but then wants McMurray to serve in an advisory role with the team. Kurt Busch is expected to replace him, but there still has not been an official announcement.
Kurt Busch: On that front, does Busch go to CGR or stay with Stewart-Haas Racing?
Image by Kinrade/LAT
Daniel Suarez: If Busch does leave the No. 41, it’s expected that Suarez will move into the ride. But again, nothing has been made official. Suarez and Busch continue to say their respective futures are still being ironed out.
No. 32 Go Fas Racing ride: Matt DiBenedetto is out and the team has not named a replacement. Joey Gase has been mentioned as a possibility.
Matt DiBenedetto’s crew chief: DiBenedetto is leaving Go Fas for the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing ride, which will become a Toyota and part of the Joe Gibbs Racing alliance. Mike Wheeler is expected to become DiBenedetto’s crew chief. It was revealed Friday at Homestead that Wheeler is not returning to Denny Hamlin’s team next year.
Denny Hamlin: Now needs a new crew chief.
Trevor Bayne: He ran his final race with Roush Fenway Racing two weeks ago in Texas and has not announced his future plans. Bayne likely needs some financial backing to bring to the table.
Image by Jarrett/LAT
AJ Allmendinger: Could be running his final NASCAR race. Allmendinger is being replaced at JTG Daugherty by Ryan Preece and has not indicated what is next for him.
Front Row Motorsports: The team is in possession of four charters and has been running two full-time teams. Whether that remains true, with what drivers, and what becomes of each charter is still to be announced.
No. 78 charter: Furniture Row Racing is shutting down and team president Joe Garone said equipment has been for sale for about a month. However, the charter is one of the big-ticket items from the team — as its value is linked to performance — and will be on the move for next year.
Stewart-Haas Racing: Will run two full-time cars in the Xfinity Series next season, but Tony Stewart did not say who would be joining Cole Custer. Chase Briscoe is linked to the company.
GMS Racing No. 23 car: GMS has not named a new driver since Spencer Gallagher announced he was stepping out of the seat.
John Hunter Nemechek: Looking for a new place to land after Chip Ganassi Racing named Ross Chastain to the No. 42 Xfinity car full-time next season, which Nemechek had run on a limited basis this year.
JR Motorsports: JRM is bringing Noah Gragson into the fold to replace the retiring Elliott Sadler, but his car number has not been decided. Tyler Reddick, fresh off the championship, is headed for Richard Childress, which still leaves a car open. JRM is expected to run four cars, but the lineup for the fourth must be determined.
Ryan Truex: Indicated over the weekend he will not be returning to Kaulig Racing and the No. 11 team.
Ryan Reed: Lost sponsor Lilly Diabetes when the company announced it will be leaving Roush Fenway Racing. Reed said he does not have a contract for next season.
Roush Fenway Racing: What does their Xfinity Series program look like? The No. 16 team doesn’t have a sponsor and Reed doesn’t have a contract. The No. 60 car could potentially lose two of its drivers if Briscoe heads to SHR; Austin Cindric has already been announced as running next season with Team Penske. That leaves Ty Majeski and sponsorship questions floating.
Myatt Snider: Grabbed Rookie of the Year honors in the Truck Series and is not finalized for next season, but would like to return to ThorSport Racing.
GMS Racing: Johnny Sauter will return and Sheldon Creed is set to run full-time. However, team had run four teams this season and hasn’t indicated if that will remain the same going forward.
Brett Moffitt: The new Camping World Truck Series champion with Hattori Racing said he does not have plans for next season.
Hattori Racing: What does that mean for the team Moffitt just won the title with?
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