The calendar year has turned over to January, and with it comes a new outlook on the upcoming season. Teams are getting prepared due to either new drivers coming in, or even a swap of manufacturer. Many teams are having to change body styles with the implementation of some “muscle” into Cup competition.
More importantly, every team is starting out on even ground. Whatever happened in 2017 has officially been left behind, and the focus is forward.
For one team, it is hard to forget what happened a year ago. After all, when it was said and done, an enormous 60-pound trophy was waiting to be handed over. Among everyone in the sport, the way last season went for this driver, anything less than a championship would be considered a failure.
So, to start off the preview series for 2018, we will begin with the team that is based on the western side of the country, away from NASCAR’s hub, but proved it is now an elite team to compete against.
We will start off the new year by previewing the team that won the most races, achieved the most points, and in the end became the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion.
Martin Truex Jr: Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy Toyota
Was there anything that this driver, this team, and this organization didn’t do right in 2017? If there was, the list would not cover a Post-It note. If this team could do it, they did it and beyond.
Truex, Cole Pearn, and the entire team from Colorado absolutely had everything go their way, and it never went away. They were the first team to take the new stage racing and max out on every possible point available just three races in. The team took home the regular season championship by a wide margin, gaining even more playoff points to give a lead that seemed insurmountable.
The most wins, the most points, and the absolutely most dominant season of one team and one organization in a very long time.
Anything less than a championship at the end of the year would be considered failure, and that is something this team would not accept when things were all on the table. Truex Jr. achieved the dream that many thought he would miss after all he endured four years prior. His team disbanded, a sponsor left, and all none of his doing. He was the victim, not the beneficiary. The one who still believed in himself, and his abilities, was Truex. He found his home, and in the end, he gave the team from the west coast something many never thought they could get.
Plus, to add a cherry on top of the sundae, then-teammate Erik Jones took home Rookie of the Year honors, giving the Furniture Row organization a clean sweep of the biggest trophies in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup competition.
Facts speak for themselves:
- Eight Victories, the most of any driver in 2017
- 19 Top-Five’s, led all drivers
- 26 Top-10’s, led all drivers
- 74 playoff points, including 19 stage wins.
This was flat out domination by a team that is not based in NASCAR’s central area of North Carolina. But, with resources from Joe Gibbs Racing, they have quickly become the standard bearer for competition.
In 2018, all resources are heading towards helping Truex do something that no one has done since Jimmie Johnson, which is claiming back-to-back championships. Jones now heads to the main squad of JGR, which in essence is a lateral move. He will remain a teammate, but instead will have a No. 20 on his car instead of 77.
Truex is one of the few teams that has a guaranteed full allotment of sponsorship for this season, with the bulk of the races going to either Bass Pro Shops or 5-Hour Energy. Auto-Owners Insurance and Furniture Row will have their moment as primary sponsor as well.