NASCAR Cup Series: 2019 season in review

A new year is on the horizon, and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is ever closer. Let’s take one last look at 2019 before the calendar turns.

Christmas 2019 has come and gone, meaning the next big event on the calendar is the celebration of the New Year. Before 2020 arrives, let’s take one last look at the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season.

The 2019 season ended back in mid-November on Sunday, November 17 after starting exactly nine months prior on Sunday, February 17. It began and ended in the state of Florida, starting at Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500 and ending at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Championship 4 title-decider.

The 36-race season resulted in the second career championship for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who also ascended to ninth on the all-time Cup Series wins list with his five victories in 2019.

Busch, who became the first two-time champion since seven-time Jimmie Johnson won his second title back in 2007, is only 34 years old, so his climb up this list could continue. Of his 56 career wins, 27 have come in the last five seasons.

The Las Vegas, Nevada native won this year’s title despite the fact that he entered the season finale having not won a race in more than five and a half months, proving that you can never count him out. He won it in a similar manner back in 2015, entering the season finale without a win in nearly four months but winning it to secure the title.

In the Championship 4 era, the champion has now won all six title-deciding races, and there is no reason to believe that that will change anytime soon with this year’s race marking the third consecutive 1-2 finish among championship-eligible drivers.

The other three Championship 4 drivers this past season were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin, who led the series in wins with seven and six, respectively, and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who won four races after opening up the season without a single top three finish in the first 19 races.

Three other drivers won multiple races. Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski won three while reigning champion Joey Logano of Team Penske won two.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch each won one. Larson had not won a race in more than two years while the other three drivers each won one race in 2018 as well.

Additionally, there were two first-time winners. One, Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman, was kind of expected; he won at Chicagoland Speedway in late June.

The other, Spire Motorsports’ Justin Haley, won in what was arguably the biggest upset in Cup Series history in a rain-shortened race at Daytona International Speedway. This win was Spire Motorsports’ only lead-lap finish at the time, and it is still only one of two in team history.

Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric won a tight Rookie of the Year battle over JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece, although Hemric lost his ride to two-time Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick. Front Row Motorsports’ Matt Tifft, also a rookie, could not finish out the season after suffering a seizure with four races remaining.

 

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The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to get underway in roughly a month and a half on Sunday, February 16. What does this 36-race season have in store? The season opener, the 62nd annual Daytona 500, is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.