The 2016 NASCAR season featured a lot of great racing, fierce competition and compelling storylines, culminating with Jimmie Johnson’s late-race charge to a record-tying seventh Premier Series championship.
But over 36 races, even the best drivers occasionally struggle. Following are the worst finishes of the 2016 season for each of the top 30 drivers in points.
All told, McDowell did well to finish in top 30 after running just 31 races, but he finished 39th in the first New Hampshire race due to electrical problems.
A suspension failure in the second Michigan race doomed Cassill to 39th.
The only Premier Series victory of Mears’ career came at Charlotte in 2007, but in the fall Chase race there, he finished last.
An unhappy one-and-done deal with HScott Motorsports saw Bowyer finish last twice, completing just 5 laps at Sonoma before electrical woes hit and then again in the second Michigan race.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver finished last three times — at Martinsville in the spring when he lost an engine, and then again in Chase races at Kansas and Homestead.
A disappointing year for Menard saw him lose an engine in the spring Kansas race, where he came home 40th.
Patrick went out at Auto Club Speedway due to a crash after 120 of 205 laps. She was credited with a 38th-place finish.
In his final year with Roush Fenway Racing, accidents in the spring Texas race and at Watkins Glen left Biffle 39th both times.
A crash in the fall New Hampshire race meant a season’s-worst 38th-place finish for Bayne.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Just nine laps into a 267-lap race at Kentucky, Stenhouse crashed out and wound up in last place. He would finish 40th again after another crash in the fall Martinsville race.
Although he was classified as still running at the end of the race, Blaney crashed in the final regular-season race of the year at Richmond and finished 39th there.
The ‘Dinger finished 38th twice, the first time at Michigan in June when he crashed on Lap 62, and then again in the Brickyard 400, when his car overheated.
After just 51 of 313 laps, Newman fell out of the first Phoenix race due to an accident and was classified 39th.
Yet another victim of restrictor-plate mayhem, Kahne crashed and finished 39th in the spring Talladega race.
How bad was Daytona for Chris Buescher? Try 39th in the Daytona 500 and 40th in the Coke Zero 400 in July. Ouch.
None of the top 30 drivers in points had a better worst finish than the now-retired three-time champ, who was 35th after his car overheated at Darlington.
The 2016 campaign was the best of Dillon’s still you career, but in the penultimate race of the year at Phoenix, he came home 39th.
In what was otherwise a solid season, an engine blew up on McMurray at Dover, knocking him out of the Chase after a 40th-place finish.
Back-to-back 38th-place finishes at Kansas and Talladega in the fall punted the 2012 champ out of the Chase.
Martin Truex Jr.
How’s this for weird? After winning two of the first three Chase races, Truex finished 40th in Chase races at Talladega (engine) an Phoenix (accident).
The 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year had his worst two finishes in the first three races of the year — 37th in the Daytona 500 and 38th at Las Vegas.
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In a breakout season, Larson had his worst race early, crashing his way to a 39th-place result at Auto Club Speedway.
Even a driver of Harvick’s caliber can’t always avoid calamity at restrictor-plate tracks. The 2014 champion was 39th after a crash in the July Daytona race.
Bristol has always been a great track for Busch, but an accident in the August race left him 38th.
The Virginia native excels at Martinsville, but a crash in the spring race left him 39th.
The last race of the regular season was a tough one for Kenseth, who crashed and finished 38th in Richmond.
Martinsville has never been a good track for Edwards and this year was no exception, as in the fall Chase race, he was 36th.
A rare engine failure in the first Michigan race knocked Busch out after just 52 of 200 laps. He finished the day 40th.
In the Kentucky race in July, an accident KO’d Logano after just 52 laps, leaving him 39th in the final running order.
And the first one now shall also sometimes be last: Johnson is the best driver of the generation and in the discussion of the best ever, but he crashed and finished 40th at Watkins Glen.