Breaking down the driver-team NASCAR Cup changes for 2018


Wondering which NASCAR Cup drivers switched teams, retired or were bumped from rides since the end of last season? We’ve got you covered.

With cars hitting the track Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, here are all the driver-team changes for the 2018.

2017 team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 (Drew Blickensderfer crew chief)
2018 team: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 (John Klausmeier crew chief)

Why the change: Danica Patrick wasn’t getting the job done and couldn’t get a sponsor. Almirola and team co-owner Tony Stewart are buds back from their days at Joe Gibbs Racing.

2017 team: Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 (Jeremy Bullins)
2018 team: Team Penske No. 12 (Bullins)

Why the change: With Blaney having spent two years at satellite Wood Brothers Racing, it was time for Roger Penske to bring Blaney in-house, so he added a third Cup team.

2017 team: Chevrolet simulator and test driver
2018 team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 (Greg Ives)

Why the change: Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired, and Bowman proved he could get the job done — nearly winning at Phoenix — when substituting for Earnhardt in 2016.

2017 team: JR Motorsports Xfinity Series No. 9
2018 team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Cup (Darian Grubb)

Why the change: Kasey Kahne was struggling, and Byron was on his way to winning the 2017 Xfinity Series title.

2017 team: Circle Sport-TMG No. 33 (Eddie Pardue)
2018 team: StarCom Racing No. 00 (Tony Furr)

Why the change: Circle Sport and TMG ended their partnership, leaving Earnhardt looking. The Derrike Cope-managed StarCom team hopes it can land sponsorship with the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

2017 team: Furniture Row Racing No. 77 (Chris Gayle)
2018 team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 (Gayle)

Why the change: JGR wanted Jones in-house. How much? It was willing to part ways with 39-time Cup winner Matt Kenseth.

Kasey Kahne

2017 team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 (Keith Rodden)
2018 team: Leavine Family Racing No. 95 (Travis Mack)

Why the change: Kahne needed a change of scenery and Leavine felt this was a way for its program to take the next step.

2017 team: BK Racing No. 23 (Patrick Donahue)
2018 team: TriStar Motorsports No. 72 (Frank Kerr)

Why the change: LaJoie will run the majority of the races in the No. 72 car as 2017 driver Cole Whitt opted for a limited schedule in 2018.

2017 team: Leavine Family Racing No. 95 (Todd Parrott)
2018 team: Front Row Motorsports No. 34 (Derrick Finley)

Why the change: The team opted to release Landon Cassill, and McDowell has a solid resume of working for teams with limited funding.

2017 team: Richard Childress Racing No. 27 (Matt Borland)
2018 team: Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 (Greg Erwin)

Why the change: Menard didn’t see things getting better at RCR and opted to take the family sponsorship to Penske and the Wood Brothers.

Danica Patrick

2017 team: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 (Billy Scott)
2018 team (Daytona 500 only): Premium Motorsports No. 7 (Tony Eury Jr.)

Why the change: Patrick is doing just two races this year — the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 — and then will call it quits on her racing career.

2017 team: Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity No. 6
2018 team: Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 (Blickensderfer)

Why the change: Things were getting stale with Almirola, and of all the drivers who subbed Almirola when he was injured last season, Wallace was the best fit. He has attracted some sponsorship, but the team, while committed to running the full season, still has 23 races open.

No longer racing

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports No. 88) and Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20).

Top-35 drivers who have not announced 2018 plans

Cassill, Gray Gaulding and Reed Sorenson.

A change in numbers

Chase Elliott

2017 number: 24
2018 number: 9

Why the change: Elliott gets the number his father drove for several years.

Same team, crew chief change

Kurt Busch

2017 crew chief: Tony Gibson
2018 crew chief: Billy Scott

Why the change: Gibson wanted to get off the weekly grind. Scott was Patrick’s crew chief last year. Most of Scott’s crew has come with him.

Ty Dillon

2017 crew chief: Bootie Barker
2018 crew chief: Matt Borland

Why the change: The team was struggling, and Borland gets the nod as part of the RCR alliance.

David Ragan

2017 crew chief: Derrick Finley
2018 crew chief: Seth Barbour

Why the change: A little shakeup with the swapping of crew chiefs at Front Row among the No. 38 (Ragan) and No. 34 cars (was Cassill, now McDowell).

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