With the 2017 season firmly in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reflect on what happened. What else are we going to talk about?
Points Position: 24th
Stage Points: 20
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 6
Average Starting Position: 21.1
Average Finish: 19.5
Highlight: Bayne’s best run of the season came in August when he was fifth at Michigan and seventh at Bristol. That two-week stretch made it possible to think Bayne could somehow sneak into the playoffs.
Bayne was also pretty solid to start the season. He finished inside the top 20 in 10 of the first 12 races and had eight top-15 finishes in that stretch.
Lowlight: He did not sneak into the playoffs because his season cratered both before and after that two-race run. Bayne had seven-straight finishes of 20th or worse before the Michigan race and had five-straight races outside the top 20 after Bristol.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR.
Points Position: 13th
Stage Points: 14
Top 5s: 4
Top 10s: 9
Average Starting Position: 15.9
Average Finish: 17.1
Highlight: This is pretty obvious, right? Stenhouse got the first win of his career at Talladega in the spring. He started first but led just 14 laps. He got the win by starting his pass of Kyle Busch on the penultimate lap and completing it on the final lap.
In July, he got his second win of the season at Daytona with a similar pass.
Lowlight: Because of Roush’s lack of competitiveness at other tracks, Stenhouse was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs and ended up 13th in the points standings. But it’s hard not to call the team’s two-car season a win after the performance gains it showed.
Roush cut back from three teams to two at the beginning of the season. The effort boosted the performance of both Stenhouse and Bayne, though Stenhouse was the primary beneficiary. He finished 2.5 positions better than he did in 2016 while Bayne’s improvement was just 0.4 positions.
If Ford’s aerodynamic disadvantage is real and legitimate, it’s hard to see Roush being as competitive in 2018 with Toyota’s dominant Camry and Chevrolet’s new Camaro. If Ford isn’t at an aero disadvantage, then maybe a repeat of 2017 is possible.
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