After three consecutive owner's championships for Team Penske, will any Xfinity Series effort stop their reign of owner’s championships in 2016?
Last week NASCAR feted Roger Penske’s No. 22 squad piloted by an All-Star cast of Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Alex Tagliani.
The Greg Erwin-led quartet combined for seven win, five poles, 25 top fives and 29 top 10s in 33 starts. The average finish for the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford was 5.9.
Any likely contenders will either come from Joe Gibbs Racing or Richard Childress Racing. This season Roush Fenway Racing locked up the NXS driver’s title with Chris Buescher, but the champ’s 2016 plans have yet to be revealed and at this time. RFR does not run a multi-driver effort at this time.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Joe Gibbs Racing is strong enough to lock down a combined driver/owner championship with Erik Jones next season. But don’t be surprised if Daniel Suarez doesn’t give his teammate a run for the money. Joe Gibbs told Motorsport.com the complete driver crew chief lineup is not locked down for 2016 but rumors persist that Mike Wheeler will leave the No. 20 NXS team to be Denny Hamlin’s crew chief. However, with Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin combining for JGR’s All-Star NXS effort, expect that team to be in the mix.
Richard Childress Racing
Up the road in Welcome, N.C., RCR will mount a formidable charge as well with at least four Xfinity teams. Austin Dillon, who won four NXS races this season, will join forces with Elkhart Lake victor Paul Menard in the No. 2 Chevy. Danny Stockman Jr. will be the crew chief.
Ty Dillon, who finished third in Xfinity driver points, will continue to build the No. 3 program with Nick Harrison calling the shots. In the pair’s 16 starts, Ty posted nine top fives and 14 top 10 finishes.
After working with Brian Scott this year, veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. will oversee rookie Brandon Jones’ effort in the No. 33 Chevy. Jones, 18, post one top five and two top-10 finishes in five NXS starts. Brendan Gaughan will continue in the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy with his long-time crew chief Shane Wilson. Together, the pair finished ninth in the NXS standings.