|-1||1/11||2nd||Given his overall success and tendency to have his car out front in 2015, the 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick is in the best position to start 2016.|
'Rowdy' is right up there with Harvick in terms of title favorites, as well. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver took momentous leaps forward in 2015 and should continue to win races at an elevated rate.
MORE: First title tip of the iceberg for Busch, Stevens
|+2||1/14||9th||Despite five wins, 2015 was an uncharacteristic year for "Six-Time." There’s no reason to think issues will plague the No. 48 team, the strongest over the past decade by far, two seasons in a row.|
Like Busch, Logano took huge steps forward in his maturation and on-track finesse, resulting in six wins -- a series-high in 2015. He's a safe bet to be among those racing for a title at Homestead.
MORE: No. 22 crew chief gives insight to new Ford Fusion
Keselowski is on a sort of alternating strong years plan (2012: five wins, series title; 2013: one win, missed Chase; 2014: series-high six wins; 2015: one win). By that standard, he's in for a successful 2016 campaign.
MORE: With performance in hand, ‘16 time to execute for Kes
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Last season went about as well or better than expected in Earnhardt's first season with new crew chief Greg Ives. With a full season under their belts and a sense of urgency at Hendrick Motorsports, look for Junior to pick up multiple wins in 2016.
MORE: Retirement? Not on Junior’s radar
As the driver with the most stability at Joe Gibbs Racing in terms of crew chief and crew, Kenseth should continue being among the strongest competitors on the track week in and week out.
MORE: Kenseth on Vegas tire test
Hamlin appears to be completely at ease and thrilled with his new crew chief Mike Wheeler, a familiar face for the No. 11 driver. We saw how a similar situation worked out for his JGR teammate, Kyle Busch, and first-year crew chief Adam Stevens in 2015.
MORE: Hamlin, Wheeler come full circle with pairing
Martin Truex Jr
Truex is an interesting case for 2016, coming off his best season ever, but his one-car organization will be taking on a manufacturer switch to Toyota. Furniture Row Racing has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, however, which should pay dividends.
MORE: Furniture Row move to Toyota eased by JGR
After a rough start to the season off the track, Busch turned things around to have his best season in years after clicking with crew chief Tony Gibson. Things should continue in 2016.
MORE: SHR zeroes in on digital dash
Edwards was certainly no slouch in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing, but the team still chose to give his No. 19 team a new crew chief. It could certainly pay off, but we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach.
MORE: JGR reveals fresh paint scheme for Edwards
This has to be Larson's year, right? If the talented Chip Ganassi Racing prospect doesn’t make significant gains in 2016, it will be tough to keep labeling him as such with so many skilled, young drivers coming into the series.
MORE: Larson ready for bounce-back with new crew chief
Kahne had just his fourth winless season in 2015 and it has been a decade since his last season with more than two victories, but it still doesn't feel like he's done winning races yet. I think.
MORE: Hendrick Motorsports 2016 Team Preview
McMurray wasn't exceptional in 2015, but did enough to warrant his first career Chase berth. If he can find Victory Lane for the first time since 2013, it will be a good season for the No. 1 team.
MORE: McMurray, McCall eye gains in Year 2
|-2||6/16||16th||If Newman's recent history is any indication, he'll have around five top-five finishes, roughly 15 top-10s and will make the Chase with either one win or on points. Or he could win the title. Never can tell with Newman.|
This seems like a good ranking to slot the kid in. Many expect Elliott, in a strong car, to be competitive from the start. He'll be good, but there will certainly be speed bumps along the way.
MORE: Elliott gears up for rookie season
Dillon is in a similar position to Larson, where results have yet to meet expectations. The Richard Childress Racing driver showed promise toward the end of last season and the former XFINITY Series champion could continue that in '16.
MORE: Dillon heads into ‘16 with ‘something to prove’
|----||--||15th||The series' oldest full-time driver (two years older than Jeff Gordon, even) is still chugging along for a Roush Fenway Racing team that took a huge step back in 2015. RFR will look to Biffle to lead them to better heights in '16.|
Almirola failed to make the Chase in 2015 after clinching his first appearance a season prior. The team appears to be re-invigorated now and the No. 43 squad could be a solid Chase sleeper this year.
MORE: Confident Almirola eyes return to Chase
|-3||10/19||43rd||Bowyer's 2016 is the definition of a bridge year, as he makes a one-season stop at HScott Motorsports before inhabiting the No. 14 Chevrolet from the retiring Tony Stewart. A win would be nice, but he hasn't had one since 2012 and spent the past three seasons in a better ride.|
|-3||13/NR||21st||A first time Chase participant in 2015, Menard will have to put his best efforts forward to repeat the task in 2016, and even that might not be enough with a stacked field.|
|-5||37/20||37th||Buescher, the reigning XFINITY Series champion, has the talent to rise from here, but may not see his results reflect that until he's in a stronger ride. Still, expect some flashy performances at times from the '16 rookie.|
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
|----||--||22nd||If you're looking for a solid Chase sleeper, here he is. Stenhouse really picked things up at the tail end of 2015 and his fourth season in the Cup Series should show what he's really made of.|
|----||--||20th||Allmendinger missed the Chase last year, leading to a crew chief change. With Randall Burnett and a new director of competition, Ernie Cope, in tow, things could pick up for the No. 47 team.|
|----||--||24th||Patrick needs to perform this year, plain and simple. Her fourth year of full-time Cup competition should be the one where she shows if she's capable of winning.|