Daytona Beach, Fla – The NASCAR XFINITY Series teams officially hit the track for the first time of the 2017 season on Friday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway. They will practice twice before their season opener on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) at the high banked 2.5-mile track. But, with the a new season on the horizon, the obvious question is who will be the contenders for the upcoming seasons championship.
With that being said, 2017 is going to be a year for JR Motorsports against everybody else. Three of the top five in the final standings of 2016 are rookies in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for this season. 31 of the 33 wins from a year ago too are either Cup drivers in 2017 or not on the full-time entry list for the 2017 XFINITY Series season. Among the two wins from 2016 returning to the series for 2017 though is from just one driver -Elliott Sadler.
That’s why JR Motorsports to me is the team to beat. Sadler returns as does Justin Allgaier. They both were among the final four at Homestead. The two they were going against at Joe Gibbs Racing in Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones are up at the Cup level now. Also factor in that JGR has only rookie Matt Tifft competing on a full-time basis in 2017, the rest of their cars are going to be filled by part-time drivers, and you can see why JR Motorsports are going to be the ones to watch.
JR Motorsports also added William Byron and Michael Annett to their team for 2017 too, so to me, it’s those four drivers against everyone else for the title.
Richard Childress Racing won’t have either of the Dillon brothers full-time this season as that duo will make appearances in 2017 on a part-time basis. Brandon Jones, Brendan Gaughan and rookie Daniel Hemric will make up their full-time driver lineup which to me, isn’t quite championship worthy.
Roush/Fenway Racing returns both Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace Jr. and to me their the sleepers to challenge JR Motorsports for the title this year. Stewart-Haas Racing added an XFINITY Series team this year with rookie Cole Custer who too will factor into things this season.
Team Penske will have part-time drivers this year so they’re not eligible for a drivers championship.
The only other ones to watch is Brennan Poole with Chip Ganassi Racing and Blake Koch with Kaulig Racing. Both made the Chase last year. Both though, haven’t ever won an XFINITY Series race in their careers yet either.
So, this season is JR Motorsports against everyone else. It’s also a chance for new drivers to shine.