Martin Truex Jr.

Trending : Slightly Down

Nobody was better than Martin Truex Jr. in 2017. He walked away with the championship, won 8 races and finished in the top five 53% percent of the time. His level of performance was high everywhere and his dominance at intermediate tracks was unparalleled. In 2018, I think it will be hard for him to once again perform at such a high-level, so I think he’ll be trending down slightly this upcoming season.

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Kyle Busch

Trending : Even

2017 was a great season for Kyle Busch. He won five races and competed for his third straight championship. Kyle Busch is arguably the most versatile driver in NASCAR and in 2018 I think he’ll be trending even.

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Kevin Harvick

Trending : Even

Kevin Harvick competed for the championship last year, but it was a down year for him. He only won twice and was a little down on speed compared to the last few years. When it was time for him to step up his game late in the year he answered the bell by ending the season with four straight top fives. In 2018, I think he’ll be trending even and will continue to be a championship contender.

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Brad Keselowski

Trending : Even

In 2017 Brad Keselowski won 3 races, had 16 top fives, 24 top tens and competed for the championship. That’s impressive when you take into account he had a performance lull for a good portion of the season. In 2018, I think he should have increased speed but overall I think he’ll be trending even.

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Chase Elliott

Trending : Up

Chase Elliott had a great 2017 season. He finished in the top ten 58% percent of the time and nearly advanced to Homestead. In 2018 big things are in store for him and I think he’ll be trending up. He has another season under his belt and I expect Hendrick Motorsports to be more competitive with the new Camaro. This upcoming year also look for him to reach victory lane for the first time.

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Denny Hamlin

Trending : Slightly Down

In 5 of the last 7 years Denny Hamlin has finished between 6th to 9th in the point standings. I think sums up pretty well how he ranks among the competition. Last year Denny Hamlin tied his career best mark for top five and top ten finish percentages. In 2018 I would look for him to be trending down slightly. Joe Gibbs Racing had a competitive advantage last year and I don’t that will likely be the case again.

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Kyle Larson

Trending : Up

I think Kyle Larson will have a monster 2018 season and be a championship contender. Last year he finished 8th in the standings, but if he didn’t have bad luck late in the season he may of very well won the championship. In 2018 look for Larson to be trending up!

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Ryan Blaney

Trending : Even

Ryan Blaney had a breakout 2017 season. He reached victory lane and nearly made it to the championship finale. In 2018 he’ll become a full fledged member of Penske Racing. Essentially it’s just a lateral move, but I think it puts him in a more positive situation. In 2018 I think he’ll be trending even.

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Jimmie Johnson

Trending : Up

There’s definitely some question marks surrounding Jimmie Johnson in 2018. Last year he had a huge dip in performance. It also opened up the door and has people questioning if “Father Time” caught up to him. Personally I don’t think we’ve seen the demise of Johnson. In 2018 I think Hendrick Motorsports will be more competitive and that should raise Johnson’s level of performance. Since 2017 was such a bad year, almost by default I think he’ll be trending up.

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Austin Dillon

Trending : Down

Austin Dillon finished 11th in the point standings in 2017. In 2018 I would be shocked if he could replicate that. There’s six veterans that I like more who finished below him in the standings, and I also think one rookie, or perhaps two might be better than him. In 2018 I think he’ll be trending down.

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Jamie McMurray

Trending : Slightly Down

In 2018 I think McMurray will be trending slightly down. I see him as about a mid-teens driver which is slightly worse than he’s fared the last few year. Last year McMurray finished in the top ten 47% percent of the time, that was his best year in that statistic since 2004. I think it will be hard for him to be that competitive again.

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Trending : Down

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a great 2018, by his standards. He won twice and finished in the top ten a career best 9 times. He also set career highs in top 15’s, top 20’s and had a personal best 17.1 average finish. None of his stats other than winning were anything to get too excited about though. In 2018 I don’t think he’ll have a career year again and finish 13th in the point standings, so I see him trending down.

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Kurt Busch

Trending : Even

Kurt Busch didn’t have a great 2017 season. He won the Daytona 500, made the Playoffs but other than that he lacked highlights. He also closed out the season with a whimper having a first round exit and finishing 19th or worse in 8 of the 10 Playoff races. In 2018 I think he’ll be trending even, or perhaps be a little bit down. There’s some commitment questions surrounding him from his team and that might take a toll.

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Kasey Kahne

Trending : Down

Kasey Kahne had a tough 2017 and had a career low 6 top tens. That earned him an exit from the #5, and this upcoming year he’ll be driving the #95. I’m sure this will be a culture shock for him and he’s in for a long season. Since he was so bad last year I think he might technically be trending even, but overall he’ll be trending down.

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Ryan Newman

Trending : Slightly Down

In 2018 Ryan Newman will be a borderline playoff driver. I don’t see him winning anywhere but he’s a savy veteran and might be able to “point” himself into the post-season. I see him as about a high-teens driver this year which means he’ll be trending down slightly.

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Joey Logano

Trending : Up

I’m going to choose to believe that 2017 never happened for Joey Logano. In 2018 I think he’ll return to the elite ranks, or at least be a solid top ten driver. This upcoming year he’ll undoubtedly be trending up. In no way do I see him being down again. He showed improved speed late in 2017 and you have to believe Penske Racing has made adjustments which will improve his performance deficiencies.

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Clint Bowyer

Trending : Up

Clint Bowyer didn’t live up to the expectations I had for him in 2017. He missed the Playoffs and I thought he would’ve been more competitive on a weekly basis. In 2018 I think he’ll be trending up. I think he’ll likely rank as a low-double digits driver and make the Playoffs.

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Erik Jones

Trending : Up

Erik Jones will be trending up in 2018, and I think he’ll be trending up in a big way. This upcoming season behind the wheel of the 20 he has a great chance to become a top ten driver.

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Daniel Suarez

Trending : Up

Daniel Suraez had a great 2017, especially when you consider his team had no plans for him to drive this car until Carl Edwards announced his sudden retirement. Suarez got better and better over the course of the season and in 2018 I think he’ll be trending up. Last year he finished 20th in the points, this year I think he’ll reasonably be a mid-teens driver.

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Trevor Bayne

Trending : Even

Trevor Bayne has finished 22nd in the point standings his last two years. In 2018 I think he’ll trend even and once again be a low-twenties ranked driver.

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Paul Menard

Trending : Even

Paul Menard will be driving the Wood Brothers #21 in 2018, but I don’t think that should have an impact. Although it’s a more competitive situation I’m not sure if it will make a difference. I think he’ll be trending even and will be about a low-twenties driver. In 3 of the last 4 seasons his points ranking was between 21st and 25th.

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Ty Dillon

Trending : Marginally Better

Ty Dillon should be trending up slightly in 2018. I’m not setting the benchmark high but I think he should be marginally better now that he has a full-season under his belt. In 2018 he’ll have a new crew chief, a new Camaro and he should be getting marginally better equipment with RCR down a team.

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Chris Buescher

Trending : Even

In 2018 I think Chris Buescher should be more competitive, but with the overall level of competition in NASCAR I think he’ll be trending even. His team should be better situated to be a two car organization and his teams alliance with Hendrick Motorsports certainly won’t hurt.

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Michael McDowell

Trending : Even

Michael McDowell is out of the #95, and is now driving the #34. I’m not holding the #95 on a pedestal, but I do think that was a more competitive situation. McDowell will make the most of his equipment this upcoming season and I think he’ll likely be trending even.

AJ Allmendinger

Trending: Slightly Up

In 2018 I think AJ Allmendinger will be trending slightly up. Last year he was really bad and finished 27th in the point standings. I think his organizations expansion to two teams really hurt his level of competitiveness. This year his team should be better prepared as an organization and they’ll also have an alliance with Hendrick Motorsports.

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Aric Almirola

Trending : Up

In 2018 Aric Almirola will be driving the #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. I think it’s clear he’ll be trending up. It will be the most competitive situation he’s found himself in NASCAR’s top series and being a mid-teens driver might be achievable.

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