(Nigel Kinrade Photography)

NASCAR 101: Our Storylines of 2019, Revisited

As the 2019 NASCAR season comes to a close, it’s time to run back through the NASCAR 101 columns from 2019 and see if there are any updates to be had, as we did in 2018 and 2017.

This year, it comes after the true end of the season rather than a week or two before, meaning there’s more finality here.

Here are the 2019 NASCAR columns, written by Frontstretch‘s Kevin Rutherford, Zach Gillispie, Joy Tomlinson and Michael Finley, that require a revisit at the end of the season.

Top 10 Most Wins in Truck Series History (Feb. 28): Just one change in terms of the overall ranking, as Greg Biffle pulled into a tie for eighth all time with Ted Musgrave after his 17th victory in his only start of 2019. Otherwise, the totals changed for Kyle Busch and Johnny Sauter to 56 and 24, respectively.

Is the Xfinity Regular a Winner Again (March 7): Thank the continued restrictions on NASCAR Cup Series driver interference in the lower series, but yes; only four of 33 Xfinity Series races this season were won by Cup drivers, all of them by Busch. Two more were by part-time Xfinity competitors in Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger. It’s safe to say that, at least for now, the Xfinity Series has an identity again, and its regulars actually have a, well, regular shot at winning.

The Cup Series Returns to the Short Tracks (March 22): The end of the column posited the question of whether or not the Cup Series would see a race winner who had never emerged victorious on a short track before 2019. Sure enough, Martin Truex Jr. swept Richmond Raceway and won the fall Martinsville Speedway race.

The Fluctuation of the NASCAR Calendar, By the Numbers (March 28): Not much to say here since it was a reactionary piece to the release of the 2020 calendar, but if some of the rumors about the 2021 season are any indication, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Martin Truex Jr. Finally Won a Short Track Race — Who’s Next? (April 18): No one!

Ranking the 22 Cup Organizations in 2019 So Far (April 25): Joe Gibbs Racing’s mastery of the Cup Series only improved throughout 2019. Unlikely this ranking would have changed much, aside from adding XCI Racing.

The Most Top 10s in a Row to Start a Cup Season (May 2): Busch was eventually able to tie, but not surpass, Morgan Shepherd‘s mark of 11 in a row. Oh, and there’s this line: “But Busch could also be peaking too early. Because if history is any indication, his early-season strength could end up faltering down the line.” Haha. Welp.

The Top Debuts Among Active Drivers in NASCAR’s National Series (May 9): Certainly this can be updated with every single debut that occurred after May 9, but for the sake of brevity, let’s not list them all. Special mention on the Cup level goes to John Hunter Nemechek, who finished 21st in his Cup debut, tied for 13th among all active national series drivers in 2019. Austin Hill snagged a ninth-place run in his first Xfinity race, the best for any debuting driver in that series after this column was published. And in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Chandler Smith (eighth), Mike Marlar (fourth, tied for fifth among active national series drivers) and Danny Bohn (eighth) each earned top 10s in their first Truck Series start, all coming after May 9.

NASCAR’s Current Owner-Drivers (May 30): Three additions to this list, as Ted Minor‘s self-owned team attempted one race in the Truck Series this year and Lou Goss‘ Truck organization drove a race, while in the family-owned realm, Preston Pardus debuted in the Xfinity Series for a team owned by his dad, former racer Dan.

Here’s How Ross Chastain Could Make the Truck Playoffs (June 6): I like to think reading this column is what got Ross Chastain into the Truck Series Championship 4, let alone the playoffs.

5 Longest Streaks Between Truck Wins (In Years) (June 13): These rankings remain unchanged.

Active Drivers Without a Cup Top 5 (June 27): William Byron not only snagged that elusive top five, he also ended up with five on the season, all coming in the summer and fall. In the same race Byron got his first (Daytona International Speedway), Ty Dillon, another on this list, also did so.

Cup Stats at the Halfway Mark (July 11): A couple things to unpack here, but one can note that Busch’s average finish ended up jumping to 8.9 and that he scored 27 top 10s rather than the 30 for which he was on pace. Additionally, Kevin Harvick‘s winless first half was a non-factor; he won four by the end of the year.

Longest Cup Streaks Without a Pole (July 25): Clint Bowyer’s 400-plus-race streak without a pole ended when he started first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. Casey Mears assumes the longest streak among active drivers now, and if he doesn’t return in 2020, it’ll fall to David Ragan if he drives part time and Reed Sorenson otherwise.

Road Course Winners Without Wins Anywhere Else (Aug. 2): No change; both AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric scored wins after this column’s publication, on either road courses or, in Allmendinger’s case, a ROVAL.

Other K&N Stalwarts Who Could Join Sam Mayer in the Truck Series (Or Beyond) (Aug. 15): We got a Tanner Gray sighting at the end of the season!

Can Kyle Busch Score 30 Top 10s in 2019 (Sept. 5): No, and I’m sure he’s totally cut up about it.

The Cup Silly Season Dominoes Still to Fall (Sept. 26): Kurt Busch (No. 1), Tyler Reddick (No. 8), Clint Bowyer (No. 14), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 37), Cole Custer (No. 41), Ryan Preece (No. 47) and JJ Yeley (probably either the No. 51 or 52) have since been confirmed in their respective rides for 2020.

Most Cup Wins of the 2010s (Oct. 3): Kyle Busch maintains his lead with 40, followed by Harvick with 38 and Jimmie Johnson with 36. Additionally, Denny Hamlin pulled into a tie for fourth with Brad Keselowski (29).

5 Longest Active Winless Streaks in All 3 Series (Oct. 10): The streaks continue, but at least Matt Crafton got a little something for his troubles at season’s end.

The Most First-Time Winners in Truck Series History (Oct. 17): Todd Gilliland finally found victory lane, giving 2019 six first-time winners in the Truck Series. That’s the second-best mark of the decade, behind 2012’s nine.

Related Drivers in NASCAR (Oct. 24): We ended up getting a Carson Ware sighting at ISM Raceway.

The Cup Rookie Battle Couldn’t Be Closer Than It Is Right Now (Oct. 31): Congrats to Daniel Hemric! Hope you enjoy a *checks notes* part-time Xfinity ride. With JR Motorsports. Eh, pros and cons.

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About Kevin Rutherford

Kevin Rutherford
Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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