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44. Cole Whitt: He's a long shot to make the four open spots in the Daytona 500, not to mention most other races on the schedule.
43. Ty Dillon: He will drive at least five races for the merged Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and may fill in during several upcoming races for the injured Tony Stewart. Unfortunately, Dillon won’t earn any Sprint Cup championship points, as his day job remains as a full-time Xfinity Series driver. And to that end, he has a good chance of finally being a champion in that series, just like older brother Austin.
42. Matt DiBenedetto: He has the potential to make some noise, but like several of his peers, the key will be to worry about qualifying first. Because if he doesn’t qualify well, he doesn’t race on Sunday.
41. Robert Richardson: He has a one-off start with BK Racing at Daytona, but it’s questionable what other races he’ll be able to make—if any.
40. Josh Wise: Now racing for Curtis Key, Wise has a great deal of talent. Unfortunately, he’s struggled to have equipment to match that talent.
39. Michael McDowell: He will see an increase in the number of races he drives for Circle Sport–Leavine Family Racing. This is an opportunity he’s been waiting for.
38. Michael Waltrip: The two-time Daytona 500 winner no longer has the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing to call his home. We’ll likely see him only in the 500 and maybe one or two other restrictor-plate races. The rest of his time, he’ll be on Fox Sports.
37. Michael Annett: He is fortunate that team owner Harry Scott Jr. has a charter for Annett’s team, giving him a guaranteed spot in every race this season. Annett has shown little during his Cup tenure; it’s a trend that’s likely to continue in 2016.
36. David Gilliland: He has a one-ride agreement with Front Row Motorsports for the Daytona 500. After that, who knows?
35. Landon Cassill: Cassill has a good sponsor and team behind him for Daytona. But much like several other drivers, who knows how his season will go after Daytona?
34. Reed Sorenson: He's driving for veteran driver/team owner Mike Hillman Sr. in the Daytona 500 in a one-off situation. But there’s still the possibility that Sorenson and Hillman may try additional races going forward if sponsorship can be found.
33. Chris Buescher: Team owner Jack Roush placed him in satellite operation Front Row Motorsports for 2016. But is he ready for the big time? Might Buescher have been better off staying in the Xfinity Series one more year and defending last year’s championship?
32. Brian Scott: Up to this point, he's been an Xfinity Series lifer. But finally got a big break when Richard Petty Motorsports came calling, replacing Sam Hornish Jr. But Scott also brought substantial sponsorship from Albertson’s Foods and Shore Lodge. Never having won even one race in more than 200 Xfinity starts, it’ll be tough for Scott in the Cup Series as a full-timer. But given that RPM is a team on the rise, Scott could potentially surprise us along the way.
31. Bobby Labonte: Labonte’s name was initially thrown around as a replacement for Tony Stewart after Daytona. But that’s likely not going to happen. Look for the former 2000 Series champion to make maybe four starts this season, all at Daytona and Talladega.