Nine of 26 races in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season are in the books, and those races were contested at a widely diverse selection of tracks, ranging from bullrings to superspeedways and everything in between.
Each of the Cup teams has enough races under their respective belts to constitute a fairly comprehensive body of work by this point. In other words, everyone knows by now who’s having a good season and who isn’t.
With that in mind, FOXSPORTS.com brings you mid-term grades for all 11 Cup teams in the top 25 in points over the first one-third of the regular season.
This one needs a couple of caveats: First, JGR is still one of the best and most talented teams in the garage and could very well come back and win the championship if they get their intermediate-track program sorted out. Second, it will take time to recover from the loss of Carl Edwards. That said, for a team that won five of the fist nine races of 2016 to be winless now is a huge disappointment. They are behind and they know it.
In his rookie season, Ty Dillon 23rd in points, which makes him third best among drivers who race for single-car teams behind only Ryan Blaney (12th) and Aric Almirola (19th). That’s respectable for a rookie driver and the team having to get used to someone new behind the wheel.
Richard Petty Motorsports, C
The season began on a high note for Aric Almirola, as he finished fourth in the Daytona 500. Most weeks, he seems to finish between 15th and 20th, though he had a top 10 at Richmond.
Richard Childress Racing, B-
Ryan Newman won at Phoenix, which was huge in that it broke a 112-race winless streak for RCR. Newman has had some good runs since and is 13th in points, but teammates Austin Dillon (21st) and Paul Menard (25th) are having disappointing seasons.
Wood Brothers Racing, B
Ryan Blaney began the year with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and the Wood Brothers Fords have been fast at most every race. Blaney is a solid 12th in points, although he continues to struggle with finishing as strong as he runs.
In this year of downsizing to a two-car team, Roush Fenway Racing drivers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are 14th and 15th, respectively, in points. Stenhouse ended last year 21st, and Bayne 22nd, so this is solid progress.
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Stewart-Haas Racing, B+
Kurt Busch started the year off on a huge note for SHR when he won the Daytona 500. Kevin Harvick has been hot lately, posting three straight top fives and Clint Bowyer is top 10 in points. Danica Patrick being 29th is the only thing keeping this grade from being an A.
LAT ImagesNigel Kinrade
Hendrick Motorsports, B+
This is a tough team to grade. The really good includes two victories already by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, and having second-year driver Chase Elliott third in points, with six top-10 finishes. The really not-so-good is that Kasey Kahne is 20th in points and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 24th.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukMatthew T. Thacker
Furniture Row Racing, A
The addition of a second car for rookie Erik Jones hasn’t slowed the Denver-based team at all. Martin Truex Jr. is second in points with a victory at Las Vegas, and Jones has shown every sign of being the real deal. Truex is also second in laps led this season, with 432.
Stephen R. SylvanieStephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp
Chip Ganassi Racing, A
Here’s a team that’s overachieved in a big way. Kyle Larson has had a breakout season and leads the points, with one race victory and five top-five finishes, while Jamie McMurray is an excellent seventh. This might be the best NASCAR season ever for Ganassi.
This one is a no-brainer. Penske teammates Brad Keselowski (two victories) and Joey Logano (one) have combined to w1n one-third of the races run so far this year. Logano and Keselowski also lead the series in top fives, with six apiece. Right now, this is the team to beat in NASCAR.