NASCAR Draft Kit: 2015 Sprint Cup Driver Rankings

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2015 Sprint Cup Driver Rankings

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

Updated Rankings

1. Kevin Harvick - Harvick surprised everyone with his first season of racing at Stewart Haas and captured his first Sprint Cup Series championship in 2014. It didn't come easy at times, and the team battled to build chemistry throughout the season. However, in the end the veteran driver claimed his first title on the strength of clutch performances in the Chase. Harvick collected five wins and 20 Top-10 finishes en route to the championship. He now has Top-3 points finishes in four of the last five seasons. Only Jimmie Johnson has been as consistent over the same span in NASCAR's top division. With the No. 4 Chevrolet team returning intact for the 2015 season, we really like Harvick's chances to repeat.

2. Joey Logano -
If you thought we were fans of Logano after his one-win, 19 Top-10 finish campaign in 2013, then we're really sold now on the young Penske Racing driver. By a lot of measures, he's out-performed his much more highly billed teammate, Brad Keselowski, the last two seasons. All the No. 22 Ford team did this past season was claim five victories and 22 Top-10 finishes, all career-best marks for Logano. He passed through to the final round of the Chase and was in the four-driver battle for the championship at Homestead. While over-the-wall crew problems ultimately led to his failure to win the championship, this driver did everything behind the wheel to make it happen. Logano has arrived and taken his place

Updated Rankings

1. Kevin Harvick - Harvick surprised everyone with his first season of racing at Stewart Haas and captured his first Sprint Cup Series championship in 2014. It didn't come easy at times, and the team battled to build chemistry throughout the season. However, in the end the veteran driver claimed his first title on the strength of clutch performances in the Chase. Harvick collected five wins and 20 Top-10 finishes en route to the championship. He now has Top-3 points finishes in four of the last five seasons. Only Jimmie Johnson has been as consistent over the same span in NASCAR's top division. With the No. 4 Chevrolet team returning intact for the 2015 season, we really like Harvick's chances to repeat.

2. Joey Logano -
If you thought we were fans of Logano after his one-win, 19 Top-10 finish campaign in 2013, then we're really sold now on the young Penske Racing driver. By a lot of measures, he's out-performed his much more highly billed teammate, Brad Keselowski, the last two seasons. All the No. 22 Ford team did this past season was claim five victories and 22 Top-10 finishes, all career-best marks for Logano. He passed through to the final round of the Chase and was in the four-driver battle for the championship at Homestead. While over-the-wall crew problems ultimately led to his failure to win the championship, this driver did everything behind the wheel to make it happen. Logano has arrived and taken his place with the elite in the Sprint Cup Series.

3. Jimmie Johnson -
Some may be ready to say the sun is begging to set on Johnson's career. We take exception to that and merely note that the competition has finally caught up to the six-time champion. While the 2014 campaign fell short in a lot of measures for the expected excellence of the No. 48 team, Johnson still posted four victories and 20 Top-10 finishes. These numbers are only slightly down from his past five-season average, but still dominant none-the-less. In summary, Johnson may not be the unyielding force that he once was, but he still has to be taken very serious when it comes to championship discussions and winning multiple races.

4. Brad Keselowski -
For the second time in three years, Keselowski had his flirtations with the Sprint Cup Series championship. While that campaign fell short in 2014, we can't undersell the strength of the No. 2 Penske Racing team. Keselowski won a career-best six races and posted 20 Top-10 finishes in his fifth-place finish in the standings. All things considered, only Keselowski can't stop Keselowski. His run-ins with multiple drivers during the Chase distracted from what was otherwise a strong season for the veteran driver. His clutch win at Talladega to transfer into the next round of the Chase should not be forgotten. This team can turn up their performance at a whim. Only the controversial driver himself can prevent him from winning the championship in 2015.

5. Jeff Gordon -
Gordon silenced all his critics with a run at the championship in 2014. The Hendrick Motorsports icon found the team chemistry to win four races last year, which was his best mark since 2007. Gordon also converted 23 Top 10's, which was his best mark in that category since 2009. Back problems will always lurk in the shadows for this driver, but the 42-year-old seems to be holding up well physically. Gordon's desire and urgency to win that elusive fifth championship was only stoked by the success he had in the recently completed season. Under the guidance of crew chief Alan Gustafson, Gordon should win multiple races and stack up the numbers again in the coming season.

6. Matt Kenseth -
We knew the Joe Gibbs Racing star would have a hard time living up to his seven-win 2013 campaign last season, and that was indeed the case. Kenseth was held winless in 2014, but managed to be one of the top contenders deep into the Chase and record a strong 22 Top-10 finish performance. It all added up to the consistency we come to expect from this driver and his fifth-straight season finishing inside the Top 7 in the final driver standings. Kenseth will attempt to get back to that 3-4 win plateau that we're used to seeing for this driver and team, but that will largely fall on Joe Gibbs Racing improving overall as a team. Kenseth has the ability to win races and challenge for championships, and that's always something to keep in mind on fantasy racing draft day.

7. Carl Edwards -
Joe Gibbs Racing welcomes Edwards and his star power to the Toyota racing camp. JGR adds a new fourth team in 2015 which will be the No. 19 Toyota with Arris, Stanley and Subway sponsorship. Edwards will finally get to show what he can do outside of a Roush Fenway Racing Ford for the first time in his 11-year Sprint Cup Series career. Considering that Edwards has three Top-3 standings finishes over those 11 seasons of racing, the talent is obvious and the possibilities at JGR are tantalizing. We haven't soon forgotten the big splash that Matt Kenseth made doing this same team switch from Roush to JGR. There's no reason that Edwards can't do something similar if he gets the cars and technical support. The veteran driver posted two victories and 14 Top-10 finishes in his final season with the very disadvantaged No. 99 Roush Ford team.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -
After several seasons of struggling to find victory lane, Earnhardt broke out in a big way last season. The No. 88 team grabbed four victories, which was the team's best performance since Earnhardt came on board, and his personal best season since 2004. The tonic of winning did a lot to boost this driver and team's morale, although Earnhardt did cool off during the Chase and saw his championship hopes fade. He'll have to do it without long-time crew chief Steve Letarte as he heads to the TV broadcast booth in 2015. That's a bit concerning considering how long it took Letarte and Earnhardt to develop race-winning chemistry. New crew chief, Greg Ives, will have to hit the ground running with the team if Earnhardt hopes to hold onto his gains of last season.

9. Kyle Busch -
By all measures, Busch and the No. 18 Toyota team had a bit of a down season in 2014. The lone victory stood out like a sore thumb coming off a four-win season in 2013. Busch's nine Top 5 and 15 Top 10's were the lowest season numbers he's posted since the 2009 season. It seems the Joe Gibbs Racing downturn affected Busch probably the most in this three-team stable. With JGR expanding to four teams this season with the addition of Carl Edwards, it's arguable that Busch may not improve much on these marks in 2015. Teams expanding from three to four drivers have set that "slow to get going" precedent in recent years. As the focus of JGR shifts to the new incoming star Edwards, Busch and his team may be left to their own ingenuity in the upcoming season.

10. Denny Hamlin -
Considering the way he spent most of the 2014 season, it was quite surprising to see Hamlin and the No. 11 Toyota team racing in the final 4 drivers of the Chase at Homestead and competing for his first championship. Hamlin's Hail Mary fell short, but it proved that things have turned the corner in this team that had struggled in the early stages of the season. The veteran driver posted his best points finish and most Top-10 finishes since 2010. Things look promising for 2015 for this driver and team. Hamlin's back and health are always a concern, but those issues didn't arise last season which helps improve our confidence. Assuming JGR can improve their program, Hamlin could easily climb these rankings more than any other driver.

11. Kyle Larson -
The 2014 Rookie of the Year returns to build on the fantastic season he had last year. Larson proved week in and week out he could race with the biggest stars in NASCAR and not only keep up but sometimes set the pace. He claimed an astounding 17 Top-10 finishes and was in the hunt to win on more than one occasion (Fontana, Loudon twice and Kansas) although he came up short. That first victory is likely waiting just around the corner in the upcoming season. The Chip Ganassi Racing youngster returns to the No. 42 team and leadership of crew chief Chris Heroy. We expect some improvement for Larson this season as he claims his first Sprint Cup win and makes his first Chase for the Cup field.

12. Kasey Kahne -
In a lot of ways the 2014 campaign was very disappointing for Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports race team. The veteran driver won only one race and only claimed 11 Top-10 finishes with an average finish of 17.6. Some of the lowest totals of his career. Kahne did make the Chase field, but he was never really a factor after missing the cut after Talladega. We expect the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet to make some gains in 2015, but not all at once. He will be paired with a new crew chief, Keith Rodden, and they will need some time to develop chemistry and communication. Considering that Hendrick Motorsports extended Kahne's contract for 3-years after the competition of last season, that's a major vote of confidence from the boss.

13. Ryan Newman -
Neman was the biggest beneficiary of the new Chase format last season. The driver of the No. 31 RCR Chevrolet made a big splash in his first season with his new team. Newman used rock-solid consistency in the later stages of the season to post 16 Top-10 finishes, with six of those coming during the 10-race Chase for the Cup. The result was that Newman was racing door-to-door with Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano in the season finale for the Sprint Cup Series championship. While the veteran driver needs to find victory lane more to become a yearly title contender, his consistency will always keep him in the mix. Going into 2015 it's clear which driver and team is leading the way at Richard Childress Racing.

14. Kurt Busch -
While his first season at Stewart Haas Racing didn't go exactly as planned, there were some gems to sort out of the inconsistency and some things to build on for the upcoming season. Busch won a surprising victory at Martinsville last spring and even made the Chase field later in the year. That led to an eventual 12th-place finish in the final driver standings of 2014. The veteran driver only posted a lowly 11 Top 10's during the 36-race campaign. The standings finish and Top 10 totals fell way short of expectations. Busch needs to cut back on the DNF's and increase the Top 10's in the new season. Under the guidance of new crew chief Tony Gibson, this can easily happen.

15. Austin Dillon -
The novelty of the No. 3 team returning to action in NASCAR's top division is now gone, and Dillon now has the valuable first season of experience under his belt. Now is the time to get down to some serious racing and rebuilding the legacy of this historic team. The RCR youngster fell short of the Rookie of the Year title as Kyle Larson raced to a level well beyond his years and experience. However, that doesn't sully anything Dillon accomplished. His one pole position and four Top 10's were still very respectable totals for a rookie driver. Dillon should take a considerable leap in performance in 2015. Once again paired with Gil Martin at crew chief, the young driver should show off what he learned last season.

16. Jamie McMurray -
The Chip Ganassi Racing veteran enjoyed moments of success during 2014, but fell short of making the Chase. McMurray posted two pole positions and 13 Top-10 finishes for his most productive season since 2010. The No. 1 team just lacked the week-to-week consistency earlier in the season that they had at the end. Gone is crew chief Keith Rodden, who helped orchestrate a lot of McMurray's success and speed with good race cars. He'll start the 2015 season with Matt McCall atop the team's war wagon, and looking to develop some chemistry quickly. McMurray has the talent to win races and perform consistently, however, the shakeup in team leadership has to be concerning going into the upcoming season.

17. Tony Stewart -
Smoke battled more demons than any driver in recent memory during the 2014 season. It wasn't enough that he was coming back from a major leg injury sustained in 2013, and starting to find his groove in a race car again, but the events of August dominated the headlines. Stewart was cleared by a grand jury in the state of New York for the events that led to the death of Kevin Ward Jr. at a local dirt track. The veteran driver stepped out of his ride for three races during that time period and never looked competitive thereafter. Stewart will attempt to hit the reset button in 2015 and revive his slumping Sprint Cup career. He's finished 29th- and 25th-place in the driver point standings the last two seasons, and confidence is more than a little shaken. We are cautiously optimistic that he'll begin to look like the three-time champion again, but it could take some time to get going.

18. Clint Bowyer -
For the depleted Michael Waltrip Racing, last season was a down year for this Toyota camp. Bowyer suffered the most with a winless campaign and his lowest Top 10 total since 2009. He also failed to make the expanded 16-driver field for the Chase. So 2014 was pretty much a throwaway for the No. 15 team. The good news is that MWR resigned Bowyer and crew chief Brian Pattie as primary sponsor, 5-Hour Energy, elected to stay on and stick it out. Things look much more positive for the upcoming season. Bowyer had been a Top 10 standings driver three of the prior four seasons and very capable of winning races and posting near 20 Top-10 seasons. A return to that level may be a bit too ambitious to expect, but we are almost guaranteed to see some marginal improvement in Bowyer this season.

19. Greg Biffle -
The downturn at Roush Fenway Racing last season affected Biffle more than Carl Edwards. The driver of the No. 16 Ford was held out of victory lane for the first time in the last three seasons, and he posted only 11 Top-10 finishes which was one of his lowest totals in the last five seasons. The team returns intact with no major changes, outside of some major sponsorship changes, and Biffle will attempt to rebound in 2015. His career record and pattern suggest a rebound should be in order. Biffle typically comes off winless seasons with one or two victories and usually a Top 10 standings finish. Those might be lofty goals this season with all the young, up-and-coming talent in NASCAR's top division. However, things have certainly got to get better for this talented driver and team.

20. Paul Menard -
With the departure of Kevin Harvick, we expected Menard to assert his position as the lead driver at Richard Childress Racing instead Ryan Newman had a much better season and took the title of lead driver in the RCR stable. Menard was almost a quiet afterthought, however, the numbers show a career-best five Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes. Despite it not translating to the standings, Menard put together a strong and consistent season. The driver of the No. 27 Chevrolet may even further emerge from Newman's shadow in 2015. A win and automatic Chase berth would do the trick, and that's not out of the question at all. The veteran driver will be breaking in a new crew chief, Justin Alexander, but we should see the same consistency as we've come to expect.

21. Martin Truex Jr. -
With the move to Furniture Row Racing, the predictable downturn in performance prevailed for Truex in 2014. He went from his prior three-year average of about 15 Top-10 finishes to a lowly five Top-10 finishes last season. Much of the campaign he struggled, even on tracks that have been historically kind to the New Jersey native. Truex will attempt to fallback and regroup for the upcoming season. His No. 78 Chevrolet team returns with the same familiar faces for 2015 but with a new crew chief at the helm. Some improvement is expected. Remember, this was the team that Kurt Busch took to the Chase for the first time two seasons ago. The potential to put up good numbers is there, but it could take Truex a good part of the season to rebuild the momentum lost last season.

22. A.J. Allmendinger -
There are a lot of positives to point to last season for Allmendinger and this small race team. Racing in his first full-time campaign since 2011, Allmendinger finally claimed his first career Sprint Cup Series victory with a big win at Watkins Glen. He also posted a respectable five Top-10 finishes. The Chase berth was a pleasant surprise and a first for JTG Daugherty Racing. While the No. 47 team enjoyed a historical-best 13th-place finish in the final standings, we have to temper our expectations going forward. Allmendinger had to absolutely race his backside off to post these numbers. Reality suggests this may be the ceiling for this small, single-car team. While small gains are still possible, it's more likely that Allmendinger will just be one of those familiar faces in the Top 15 most weeks during the season.

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -
With the departure of Carl Edwards there should be more focus on Stenhouse and his No. 17 Ford team at Roush Fenway Racing. The two-time Xfinity Series champion has lagged in performance since joining the Sprint Cup ranks two seasons ago, and now is the time to move forward. Coming off a campaign of only five Top-10 finishes and a lowly 27th-place ranking in the driver standings, the mountain to climb will be huge. Stenhouse has the skill set to turn in much better performances, but his Roush team has let him down to this point. He'll once again be paired with crew chief Mike Kelley, who he won both his Xfinity Series titles with in 2011 and 2012. The new focus and 76 Cup starts to this point should serve Stenhouse well in 2015. We'll see improvement, but only in increments as this team continues to rebuild.

24. Trevor Bayne -
Bayne finally makes the full-time jump to NASCAR's top division in the upcoming season. He will take over Carl Edwards' former team and the number changes from No. 99 to No. 6. While he will be the lead Rookie of the Year candidate in 2015, he's far from rookie-level experience. Bayne has 58 Sprint Cup Series starts over the last five seasons. His most noteworthy accomplishment was winning the 2011 Daytona 500, but little else since then has stood out. Bayne has only two Top-10 finishes in the last three seasons of part-time racing, and we're not so sure that's a commentary on Wood Brothers Racing or Bayne himself. One thing is for certain, he'll finally be behind the wheel of Roush Ford in the upcoming season and expectations will be much higher.

25. Aric Almirola -
The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team made some definite strides last season. Almirola broke through for his first Sprint Cup victory at Daytona during the summer. It was a legitimate, well-run strategy and race for the young driver and team. The win propelled Almirola to his first Chase appearance and career-best mark of 16th in the final driver standings. While all these accomplishments are great, they still fall short of what PRM and Almirola expect. The seven Top-10 finishes were a career-best mark for him as well, but still short of expectations. The team will return Trent Owens as crew chief in 2015 and hope to continue building on what they accomplished last year. Given the competitive environment of the Sprint Cup Series, any gains will be minor.

26. Sam Hornish Jr. -
Hornish leaps back into NASCAR's top division thanks to an opening at Richard Petty Motorsports. The No. 9 Ford had an opening after Marcos Ambrose decided to end his NASCAR career and head back to his home country of Australia. This gives the veteran driver a great opportunity to revive his Sprint Cup Series career after three seasons of heavy competition in the Xfinity Series. Hornish claimed two victories, 51 Top-10 finishes and finished runner-up in the championship standings in 2013 during that three-year span. The talent is undeniable when given good equipment to race. He'll seek to prove that in his return to the Sprint Cup Series with RPM. Hornish should take some time to develop chemistry with his new team, but he'll be more competitive than not most weekends.

27. Danica Patrick -
Last season saw some incremental improvement in Patrick's performance. She more than doubled her Top 10 totals going from one the previous year to three in 2014. She also improved her average finish over the prior season from 26.1 to 23.7. However, there were still inconsistencies and problems that kept Patrick from improving any further. The four DNF's were not out of the ordinary and considering two of them were mechanical failures, even less so. The one glaring problem continues to be qualifying and poor starting position. While Patrick did take to the new knockout qualifying format last season and improve, she's still averaging about 22nd-place each week on the starting grid. This is going to have to improve if Patrick hopes to make any headway in 2015. She is being paired with yet another new crew chief in the upcoming season, so SHR continues to shuffle the deck looking for the right boost for this driver and team.

28. Casey Mears -
The move to Chevrolet and getting engines from ECR last season seemed to pay immediate dividends. Mears' three Top-10 finishes and average finish of 22.3 were his best totals since 2009. He finished 26th in the final driver standings, which is where he has averaged finishing the last three years. With the team returning intact with the same sponsorship, crew chief and support as last year, we could see some more incremental improvement for Mears. Generally speaking, the super speedways were his best tracks and that's where he claimed all three Top 10's last season. The new season should be close to a carbon-copy of the recent past. Mears doesn't qualify the greatest, but he makes way to avoid DNF's and generally finish on the lead lap most weeks. That's valuable performance this deep in the driver field.
29. Justin Allgaier -
HScott Motorsports has formed a new alliance with Ganassi Racing in the off-season. The No. 51 team returns with Allgaier in 2015 with the same team lineup and support, but with the added technical advantage of Ganassi as a strategic partner. The rookie had an uneventful campaign last season finishing a lowly 29th in the driver standings and posting no Top-10 finishes. All that stated Allgaier did pick up the pace in the last quarter of 2014. He grabbed a pair of Top-15 and five Top-20 finishes during the 10-race Chase for the Cup. The 24.5 average finish over that final leg of the season was almost 1.5 spots better than his season average. With the strong finish to last year and new relationship with Ganassi in the offing, Allgaier has room to climb these rankings considerably if everything comes together.
30. Brian Vickers -
Last season was a mixed bag for Vickers. He finally had the reigns of the No. 55 Toyota for a full campaign, but he fell short of expectations in a number of categories. Still, he had some bright spots along the way despite his inconsistency. Vickers claimed nine Top-10 finishes and one pole position in his full schedule. The 22nd-place finish in the final driver standings fell short of the team's goal of making the Chase for the Cup field. While the potential is there for great things, Vickers' comeback in the upcoming season will be limited by health problems. The MWR driver had surgery to repair a hole in his heart in mid-December. He will miss the Daytona 500 and an undetermined number of early-season races.

31. Cole Whitt -
One of the most pleasant surprises in last year's deep rookie field of drivers was Whitt. He started the full schedule for the somewhat limited BK Racing stable. Each week he'd get the most out of his No. 26 Toyota, finishing inside the Top 25 on seven occasions during the season. Whitt finished the season strong by finishing on the lead lap in four of the final five races of 2014. That's a good sign for the future. At present, Whitt looks like one of the more promising drivers in the BK Racing camp and in this tier of the driver field. A good campaign in the upcoming season could easily catch the eye of some bigger teams and present some free-agent opportunities to move up into more competitive rides.

32. Michael Annett -
The rookie driver had plenty of ups-and-downs last season. Annett kicked off the year with a rough start at Daytona and it took him a few races to post his first Top 20 at Fontana. The season saw him post 11 Top-25 finishes and fluctuate between 30th and 35th in the driver standings only to settle in at 32nd by season's end. Pilot Travel Centers will return and sponsor Annett again in the upcoming season, and that is a security that many drivers this deep in the driver pool don't get to enjoy. Tommy Baldwin Racing will send Annett back out again in 2015 for a sophomore campaign that will hopefully show some improvement.
33. David Gilliland -
Gilliland generally out-performed his FRM teammate, David Ragan, last season but he still had a down campaign by his most recent standards. The driver of the No. 38 Ford had no Top-10 finishes last season and ended up a sub-par 30th in the overall driver standings for the year. Those marks failed to impress. However, Jay Guy replaced Frank Kerr as crew chief for Gilliland down the stretch and we saw a bit of a bump in performance. The veteran driver posted a pair of Top-25 finishes in those final four races of 2014 and ended the year on a very positive note. Now all eyes turn to 2015 and anticipate what the team can do to build on that strong finish last year. Guy returns atop the team's war wagon and things look very optimistic.

34. Ryan Blaney -
One of the rising stars of NASCAR already has a combined five victories in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. At the age of 21, Blaney is already carving out a reputation as a tough competitor and skilled driver. He will take the seat of the part-time Wood Brothers Racing team in 2015. The No. 21 Ford that has been a vehicle of driver development for Trevor Bayne the last few seasons is now at Blaney's disposal. The young driver got a couple of impressive Cup Series starts with the Penske third team last season and finished 27th- and 22nd-place at Kansas at Talladega. It will be a season of learning on the job for Blaney in the upcoming year, but his 12-14 starts should be productive, if not impressive on occasion.

35. Reed Sorenson -
This season will be Sorenson's 11th year of racing in NASCAR's top division. It's hard to remember that he has 225 starts of experience under his belt at the Cup level. He put that experience to good use last season and worked his way into a ride at Tommy Baldwin Racing. It was his first full campaign since the 2009 season. Sorenson didn't fail to impress either, racking up eight Top-25 finishes for the No. 36 Chevrolet team. That performance has earned Sorenson another year with TBR and another season to grow and improve. Super Speedway tracks were easily his best venues, so it's good to keep Sorenson and the TBR team on your mind when setting lineups for Daytona and Talladega weekends.

36. David Ragan -
This veteran driver will have rebound on his mind in 2015. Ragan posted easily his worst season in Sprint Cup action since joining the series full-time with Roush in 2007. The veteran posted only one Top-10 finish and ended up a disappointing 32nd in the final driver standings. The performance was so bad that it led to some late-season rumors that he might not be back with the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team next year. Ownership squashed those rumors in late November, but what remains to be seen is the crew chief for this driver and team. With so many questions circulating around the situation, we have reason to be cautious about any expectations of a rebound season for Ragan in 2015.

37. Chase Elliott -
The 2014 Xfinity Series champion and rookie of the year will make his first forays into NASCAR's top division this season. Boss Rick Hendrick plans to field the talented youngster in a fifth, part-time team during the year. By the NASCAR rules Hendrick can field Elliott for up to seven events in a part-time team. We wouldn't be surprised to see him start all seven possible. The son of NASCAR legend, Bill Elliott, ran wild through his first full season in the Xfinity Series claiming three victories and 26 Top-10 finishes en route to the championship. The 19-year-old possess skills and knowledge that are beyond his years and it shows up on the race track. While sure to impress, Elliott's impact in 2015 will be small due to the very limited schedule. However, heads will be turned by this future star's undeniable talent.

38. Landon Cassill -
As of late December 2014, Cassill's plans are still unannounced. He spent much of last season racing for owner Joe Falk and the No. 40 Chevrolet team. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see this association continue into 2015. Cassill made 34 starts last year with an average finish of 28.8 and five DNF's. Not ideal performance by any stretch of the imagination, but noticeable improvement for this young driver. The good news is that Cassill now has 151 career starts at NASCAR's top level, so experience is not an issue at all. The only bad news is that this team's lack of owner points makes Cassill a potential to fail to qualify any given weekend. He missed only two attempted events in 2014.

39. Alex Bowman -
Bowman seemingly survived his audition in his rookie season of last year. He made all 36 starts for the No. 23 BK Racing team. However, the results were far from desirable and only marginally better than his teammate, Ryan Truex, who did not survive the full 2014 season before being cut. Bowman only posted three Top-25 finishes compared to six DNF's for the year. That level of performance needs to pick up if Bowman hopes to remain with this team, and we believe it will. Dave Winston should remain at crew chief for the team in their second season together and some progress in communication should be made. The team barely made Top-35 status at the end of last season, so they have that big bonus going for them to start the new season.

40. Josh Wise -
As of this writing it has not been announced if Wise is returning to Phil Parsons Racing and the No. 98 team, but that is the assumption. Wise performed well enough to retain this seat after his 2014 campaign. He made 35 of the 36 events last season, only missing the spring Phoenix date due to a failure to qualify. Wise racked up seven Top-25 finishes and kept his car running most of the time with only four DNF's for the season. The 32.4 average finish fell short of expectations, but that is something Wise can improve on in the upcoming campaign. With veteran crew chief, Gene Nead, returning to call the shots, we expect this driver and team to steadily improve.

41. Travis Kvapil -
While Kvapil's plans for next season have not been announced, it assumed he'll land a ride somewhere. He made 21 starts last season, mostly for GoFAS Racing, but he finished the year with BK Racing and Circle Sport Racing. One of these two teams would be his most likely destination. The No. 83 Toyota would carry the benefit of full-time racing, while any gig at GoFAS would likely be of the part-time variety. With so much hanging in the air, it's difficult to pin Kvapil's potential performance or fantasy racing worth. He did grab one Top 10 in those 21 starts, so there is some upside here. Kvapil just needs to get the right opportunity to race.

42. J.J. Yeley -
Yeley is another in a handful of drivers who are not set for 2015 as of this writing. He made 18 starts for multiple teams last season and jumped all over the Sprint Cup Series garage. However, he did most of his racing down the stretch for the No. 83 Toyota team of BK Racing. He is a potential candidate for that ride, along with Travis Kvapil. However, his lack of any Top-25 finishes in last year's part-time campaign is a bit unsettling. Credit that to the lack of continuity or just to the level of performance for the teams that he raced. Any suitors for Yeley's services are going to expect a better effort in 2015. Regardless, with 220 Cup Series starts under his belt, Yeley is still one of the top unsigned names in the garage area heading into 2015.

43. Michael McDowell -
McDowell return for his second season of racing with the Leavine Family Racing team in 2015. Sponsorship plays a large roll in how much this team will compete. The journeyman driver attempted 22 events in 2014 and only qualified for 19 of those. When he did race, McDowell gave it his all with one Top-10 and four Top-25 finishes. He and crew chief Wally Rogers really made some progress with this small team late in the season. McDowell finished the year strong with a respectable 21st-place finish at Homestead during the season finale. Again, funding will dictate how much this part-time team can compete in the upcoming season, but McDowell is a gamer any time he takes to the track.

44. Ty Dillon -
With one season of part-time Cup racing under his belt, the younger Dillon should be up for a couple more starts in 2015. He finished a respectable 25th- and 27th-place in his Atlanta and Phoenix starts late last season with the No. 33 Circle Sport Racing team. Dillon will for certain start the Daytona 500 and at Pocono in June this season with this small team and maybe a couple moor along the way. While the focus of Dillon's season will be pursuing the Xfinity Series championship with his No. 3 team, he'll continue to get valuable seat time in NASCAR's top division in order to make that transition somewhere down the road.

45. Michael Waltrip -
The owner of Michael Waltrip Racing will once again stay active in the sport, and do what he does best which is super speedway racing. Waltrip made all four starts on the restrictor-plate tracks in 2014 and collected a pair of Top-20 finishes. The 51-year-old certainly has made a living off the large ovals and it just continues well into the twilight of his NASCAR career. He should run the same schedule once again in 2015 in a timeshare of the partner team's No. 66 Toyota with multiple drivers. Waltrip will once again show that he's much more than a casual start on these high-speed race tracks. He'll certainly be worthy of weekly lineup consideration when the series visits Daytona and Talladega.

46. Bobby Labonte -
Labonte will move to Go FAS Racing and the No. 32 Ford in 2015. Once again, the veteran driver will only take on a part-time slate as retirement continues to lurk just over the horizon. Labonte turns 51 in the coming year, so there's not too many starts left for this 23-year veteran. He made just three starts in 2014 for multiple teams and they were all on the larger ovals. His 15th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 being the highlight of those. Labonte will take on a super speedway only slate in 2015. His brother, Terry, claimed one Top-15 and two Top-20 finishes in a similar schedule for this same team last season. Labonte's past-champion provisional start will assure that the No. 32 team takes to the track those weekends.

47. Joe Nemechek -
The 22-year veteran has been mostly a start-and-park driver the last several seasons but he raced much more competitively in 2014. Nemechek made 15 starts for the No. 66 Toyota team of Premium Motorsports in a time-share of that ride. When on the track, the veteran raced competitively finishing 12 of the events he started with only three DNF's. While the 36.5 average finish lacked a lot to be desired, the competitive fire still burns in Nemechek. He is expected to race a similar part-time schedule in 2015 with this same team and possibly some others around the garage area.

48. Brett Moffitt -
The up-and-coming star of the K&N Pro Series East made his jump to part-time racing in the Sprint Cup Series last year. Moffitt made eight starts with the No. 66 team of Premium Motorsports. He shared this ride with multiple drivers in 2014. Moffitt's debut at Dover in the spring was a real hit with an impressive 22nd-place finish at the tough Monster Mile. The 22-year-old is likely looking at another season of limited part-time racing with this small team in 2015. While Moffitt has tons of potential, and a bright future ahead of him, his impact will be small due to the handful of starts and lack of performance in this team.

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Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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