5 Drivers Without A Win In 2014 That Will Win A Race In 2015


Nov 16, 2014; Homestead, FL, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick (10) before the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last season’s redesigned Chase format changed the landscape of the Sprint Cup Series.

The series that once emphasized consistency as a benchmark for success suddenly has become a series where winning is paramount.  For those fortunate enough to experience the bittersweet taste of victory, a berth in the Chase is automatic. In 2014, 13 of the 16 Chase drivers were fortunate enough to claim at least one victory.

Here’s a list of the five drivers without a win in 2014 that will win a race in 2015.

Danica Patrick

Go ahead roll your eyes. You know you want to, but in all seriousness, Danica is on her way to becoming the first female competitor to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Patrick’s truly a student of the game and has made remarkable progress since her rookie season in 2013. No longer will she carry the dubious distinction of marketing guru. It’s evident Danica is ready to become a legitimate threat to win races on the Sprint Cup tour.

Last season, Patrick recorded eight top 20 finishes on intermediate tracks, including a career best sixth place run at Atlanta, a track notorious for taking a toll on car and driver. Once she can truly adjust to working with new crew chief Daniel Knost, expect big things from the princess of speed. All three of her Stewart-Haas Racing teammates are expected to be competitive in 2015 following a tumultuous season for the entire organization, despite Kevin Harvick’s championship season.  Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2012, Patrick’s main objective has been not only to win races in the Sprint Cup Series, but to also establish herself as a genuine stock car driver.

In 2015, Patrick will once again rewrite the history books by claiming her first career NSCS victory, and don’t be at all surprised if she wins at a non-restrictor plate track.

Jamie McMurray

Winning the sport’s most celebrated races is kind of Jamie McMurray’s thing, but the former Daytona 500 winner has yet to qualify for the Chase since NASCAR adjusted the format (presumably for his benefit)  for the 10 race showdown in 2011.  Well that’s all about to change; McMurray, like his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson, is on the brink of a momentous uprising.

What does that mean for the 13 year Sprint Cup Series veteran? Simply it means he will finally win his way into the final 10 race party that is the Chase.  Following a disappointing 2012 season, McMurray has steadily improved his overall season numbers (Improving upon his overall top five finishes by three & top 10s by four from 2013 to 2014)  pitting him right alongside some of the top tier drivers for supremacy. In the process, McMurray occasionally outperformed some of the sport’s best quite convincingly.   Larson wasn’t the only Ganassi driver that enjoyed a splendid run in the Chase last season. In the final 10 races of 2014, McMurray recorded four top five finishes, with two of those coming in the final three races of the season.  Going into 2015, McMurray faces the challenge of working with his third crew chief in three years, a method chip Ganassi systematically designed to get his veteran driver back into the winner’s circle.   Once he and Matt McCall can get on the same page it’s all uphill from there.

Sam Hornish Jr.

Seven years ago, Sam Hornish Jr. embarked on a new chapter of his racing career, walking away from the open wheel ranks for a shot at tasting sweet success in NASCAR.

After years of surpassing his peers in the Verizon IndyCar series, Hornish Jr. would be faced with the harsh reality that taking on the competitive world of stock car racing with minimal experience proved to be a humbling experience for the former three time Indy car champ.

Hornish Jr spent three grueling season’s(08-10) behind the wheel of Roger Penske’s second tier car in the Sprint Cup Series before facing the hard truth, that perhaps scaling back to the Nationwide Series to further develop his stock car skills  would eventually translate into success at the Cup level.  Ultimately, Hornish Jr. would never get the chance to prove himself to his former employer. After finishing second in the 2013 Nationwide championship standings, Team Penske would release Sam Hornish Jr., leaving him once again to wonder about his future.

Two years removed from that heartbreaking Nationwide season finale that cost Hornish Jr. a second chance at a Cup career with Penske, the Defiance, Ohio, native’s  patience & perseverance is about to pay off, in the form of a second chance with Richard Petty Motorsports. Both parties are looking for redemption in 2015. Fortunately for Hornish Jr., he steps into an ideal situation with RPM, one that undoubtedly will translate  into a successful venture that culminates with a trip to victory lane for the former Indy car champion; it also breathes  new life into an organization striving for a refreshing change of pace.  Check mate.

Kyle Larson

2014 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson failed to visit victory lane in 2014; rest assured that will not be the case in 2015.  This young stallion is due for a breakout season in 2015.

Chip Ganassi’s unconventional driver choices have been subject to intense criticism in the past, but with Kyle Larson, Ganassi struck gold.  The rookie driver excelled in his first year of Sprint Cup competition and has all the makings of a future superstar. Larson’s eight top five finishes were the most recorded by a rookie driver since Denny Hamlin in 2006.  Larson started turning heads in the spring of 2014 when he finished in the runner up position at Fontana.   Despite not qualifying for the Chase last season, Larson scored more points than a majority of the drivers that qualified for the Chase. Outscoring some of the top drivers on the tour over a period of 10 races should motivate Larson to thrive next season. Remember, it’s win and you are in.

Once Larson can completely adapt to running up front with the sport’s heavy hitters systematically, he’s likely to become accustomed to visiting victory lane regularly.

Ryan Newman

Fresh of his magnificent performance in last season’s Chase, Ryan Newman can only build upon his highly successful first season with Richard Childress Racing in 2015.

Despite failing to capture a victory with his new team in 2014, Newman showed a tremendous amount of composure in dealing with the media’s compulsive scrutiny of his winless Chase campaign. Richard Childress invested a ton of confidence in Newman’s ability as a driver to carry the organization through the post-Harvick era. Mission accomplished.  Overall, Newman’s Chase run gave the racing community great insight as to what we can expect from Newman in his second year on the job with RCR.

Now that Newman has experienced the intensity of competing for a championship, he’s likely to make that same push next season, only this time he will embark on a run for the title with a couple of wins under his belt.

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