The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series saw a number of drivers suffer through a frustrating and, in some cases, forgettable season.
Not everyone can excel in the highly competitive world of NASCAR. So to put a bow on the 2017 season, we present this edition of "Back of the Pack."
1. Aric Almirola – What turned out to be his last season at Richard Petty Motorsports was a challenging one. He missed seven races with a back injury suffered in a violent crash at Kansas Speedway on Mother’s Day weekend. When he was finally returned to the iconic No. 43 for the last 18 races, Almirola scored just three top-10 finishes. He gets a fresh start in 2018 with his move to Stewart-Haas Racing.
2. Danica Patrick – Her fiery exit from the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 was symbolic of Patrick’s final NASCAR campaign. There wasn’t much of anything for her fans to cheer about in 2017 and she ended up a dismal 28th in the point standings. She’ll make one more NASCAR start in next year’s Daytona 500 before heading off to whatever the next phase of her career turns out to be.
3. AJ Allmendinger – The expansion of JTG Daugherty Racing to a two car organization appeared to take its toll on Allmendinger. Even at the two road races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen International, where he’s expected to shine, Allmendinger was an afterthought. The popular driver looks to hit the reset button next year.
4. Ty Dillon – Hopes were high when Dillon took the wheel of Germain Racing’s No. 13 Chevrolet from veteran Casey Mears. But although there were moments, Dillon could not put together a sustained string of good performances and there will be a change in direction for 2018 with veteran crew chief Robert "Bootie" Barker replaced by Matt Borland.
5. Paul Menard – Richard Childress Racing had two drivers in the playoffs with wins from Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. Any hope of all three teams running for a championship ended with Menard’s difficult season that saw only two top fives and three top-10 finishes. Menard hopes for a much better season in 2018 when he joins Wood Brothers Racing.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, Ty Dillon
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