End of season update: Bold predictions for the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season

At the beginning of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, a list of bold predications were made. Now is the time to see how we did.

Now that the 2018 season is in the books, it’s time to take a look at how we did way back in February of this season when we made these predictions.

Below is a list of the ones we got right, half right and missed on. Of the 31 predictions made, 18 were either right or partially right. That leaves a total of 13 that were wrong.

Did you have some of the same predications as us? Do you already have a bold predication to make for the 2019 season?

The ones we got right:

Austin Dillon makes the playoffs for the third straight year. Dillon made the playoffs and finished 13th in the standings.

Aric Almirola finishes inside the top-20 in points and improves his career best seven top-10 finishes in a season. Almirola finished fifth in the final standings and had 17 top-10 finishes.

Clint Bowyer makes the playoffs for the first time with Stewart-Haas Racing. Bowyer visited victory lane twice and finished 12th in the standings.

Kyle Busch wins the most races of all Toyota drivers and reaches the Championship 4. Kyle Busch finished the season with 8 wins, four more than Martin Truex Jr., and finished 4th in the final standings.

Ryan Newman misses the playoffs for just the second time in the last six seasons. Newman missed out on the playoffs and finished 17th.

Michael McDowell  sets a new career best in laps lead (10) in a season. McDowell led 33 laps all season.

Darrell Wallace Jr. earns two top-10 finishes in his rookie season. “Bubba” Wallace finished the season with three top-10 finishes. 

Martin Truex Jr. reaches the Championship 4 for the third time in four years. At times during the season it looked like that might not happen, but Truex Jr. ended up one position away from winning it all.

Chase Elliott’s predication of winning his first career race was correct.

The ones we got half right:

Brad Keselowski wins during the regular season and fails to make it past the Round of 12. Keselowski rattled off three wins in a row, two of which at the end of the regular season. He ultimately advanced to the Round of 8.

Kevin Harvick finishes the season with the most wins of all Ford drivers and advances to the Round of 8. Harvick would end up with 8 wins, five more than Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Harvick advanced to the Championship Round.

Chase Elliott earns his first career victory and reaches the Championship 4.

Denny Hamlin wins during the regular season and fails to make it past the Round of 12. Hamlin went winless during the entire season but didn’t make past the Round of 12.

Ryan Blaney scored his lone victory of the 2018 season during the playoffs at the Charlotte Roval.

Ryan Blaney wins during the regular season and reaches the Round of 12. Blaney won in the playoffs, not the regular season, and finished 10th in the final standings.

Ty Dillon earns his first top-5 and top-10 finish. Dillon scored his first career top-10 at Daytona in July.

Erik Jones scores his first career victory and reaches the Round of 8. Jones visited victory lane at Daytona in July but failed to make it out of the Round of 16.

Joey Logano wins during the regular season and advances to the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Joey Logano won during the regular season and ultimately the 2018 championship. 

Paul Menard will score just one top-10 and one top-5 finish.  Menard ended up with only one top-5 finish but had seven top-10 finishes on the season.

Alex Bowman earns double digit top-10 finishes but misses the playoffs. Bowman finished the season with 11 top-10 finishes but ended up making the playoffs and finished 16th.

Jimmie Johnson failed to win a race during a season for the first time in his career.

The ones we missed:

Jamie McMurray will snap his winless streak, which dates back to the October 2013 race at Talladega Superspeedway and make the playoffs. McMurray went winless in his final full-time season in the Cup Series.

Trevor Bayne finishes ahead of his teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in the final standings. Bayne was “benched” for Matt Kenseth for 15 races this season and finished 31st in the standings. 

Jimmie Johnson wins more than three races during the season and reaches the Round of 8. Johnson had one of his worst seasons on record and failed to reach victory lane or advance out of the first round in the playoffs.

Kasey Kahne doubles Leavine Family Racing’s top-5 (1) and top-10 finishes (5). Kahne didn’t finish inside the top-10 or top-5 this season and sat out the final 11 races.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishes outside the top-20 in points. Stenhouse Jr. finished 18th.

Daniel Suarez earns five top-5 finishes and makes the playoffs. Suarez ended up with three top-5 finishes and finished 21st in the standings.

William Byron earns his first career victory, makes the playoffs and wins Rookie of the Year honors. Byron failed to do the first two but did win Rookie of the Year honors.

Matt DiBenedetto earns Go Fas Racing their first top-5 finish. DiBenedetto failed to finish inside the top-5.

Chris Buescher finishes ahead of teammate A.J. Allmendinger for the second straight season. Buescher ended up finishing 24th, two places behind Allmendinger.

David Ragan scores a top-5 finish for the first time since 2015. Ragan’s best finish was sixth at Talladega in May.

Kurt Busch made the playoffs with Stewart-Haas Racing and will now join Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019.

Kurt Busch misses the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Busch not only made the playoffs but finished 7th in the final standings.

Kyle Larson wins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Larson struggled mightily in 2018, failing to find victory lane and finishing 9th in the final standings.

A.J. Allmendinger earns a top-5 finish in both road course races. Allmendinger’s lone top-5 came at Daytona in July where he finished third.

Follow Matt on Twitter, @mattlovisa.

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