Busch has always shown the promise and he finally delivered in 2015, amidst some seemingly insurmountable circumstances to start the season.
MORE: Busch wins first title
Harvick nearly became the first back-to-back Cup champion since Jimmie Johnson, falling just short of the race win at Homestead. He's a near lock to be in similar position next year.
MORE: No title defense for Harvick
Despite not winning his fifth title, Gordon rides into the sunset with his head held high before handing the No. 24 reins to rookie Chase Elliott.
MORE: Gordon walks away on Cloud Nine
|+1||1/8||4th||After missing out on a title opportunity at Homestead, expect one of 2015's most consistently strong drivers to come out roaring in 2016 -- and possibly defend his Daytona 500 win.|
Martin Truex Jr
A season of highs for Truex should only improve over the offseason as his Furniture Row Racing team shifts to Toyota and a corresponding technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.
MORE: Truex focuses on positives
|+6||1/14||7th||Kenseth certainly felt he should've been among the title contenders at Homestead, and don't expect him to forget any time soon about not being behind the wheel for two of the Eliminator Round races. He'll be motivated in '16.|
Dale Earnhardt Jr
|-1||3/11||40th||The speed Junior showed in his first year with crew chief Greg Ives is a springboard for the 88 team in 2016, which could wind up being Hendrick Motorsports' strongest entry.|
|----||3/11||3rd||Keselowski is now three champions removed from his title season of 2012 and the desire to get back in title contention continues to grow. Do not be surprised if we see two Team Penske cars racing for a title a year from now.|
|+2||1/14||9th||Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus appeared to rekindle their mid-season performance as the season drew to a close, something that should carry over to 2016.|
|-3||3/NR||8th||Busch rebounded tremendously from a forgettable '14 campaign, and now that he and crew chief Tony Gibson have more than a full year of working together under their belts, the 41 could be right there with the teammate Kevin Harvick's 4 in 2016.|
Hamlin at times looked primed to be a lock for a second straight Championship 4 appearance. He also, at times, looked like he belonged in the lower half of the Chase field standings.
MORE: Hamlin tweaks Harvick
|-3||2/17||11th||Like Hamlin, Edwards flirted with both dominance and mediocrity, but 2016 should see the two of them lean more toward the former as they continue to get acquainted with their crew chiefs.|
|+1||7/16||13th||There certainly were positive gains for McMurray in 2015 -- he made his first Chase, for example -- but the progression overall has slowed. At age 39, what we see might be all we get from the veteran.|
McMurray's teammate, on the other hand, once again showed significant progress toward the end of the season, nearly winning the season finale at Miami. With a new crew chief in tow, look for Larson to make big leaps in 2016.
MORE: New crew chief for Larsonh
|-2||6/16||16th||Newman couldn't quite back up his 2014 success in 2015, finishing nine spots lower in the standings with one less top-10 finish.|
|----||--||19th||Looking for a bounce-back candidate for 2016? Here's your guy. We’ve seen Kahne's flashes of brilliance -- six wins in 2006 -- but it's been a while. With so much talent waiting to find a seat in the series, next season is a pivotal one for the veteran.|
|----||--||41st||A year removed from making the Chase, Almirola took a step back in 2015. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver failed to make the Chase or win a race and managed one less top-10 finish while leading just three laps all year.|
|-3||13/NR||21st||Menard had an interesting season, finishing with three less top 5s, eight less top 10s and 35 less laps led -- just 10 overall -- but made the Chase for the first time. So, call it a wash?|
|-3||10/19||43rd||Bowyer is a major wild card for next year. Shifting to HScott Motorsports for a season before he takes over Tony Stewart's ride in 2017, it's tough to tell if he's in better equipment than his current Michael Waltrip Racing, which is closing its doors. He may be held without a victory again in 2016, which would be his fourth straight winless season.|
|----||--||14th||Dillon managed to add one more top-10 finish in 2015 than last year, but many pegged him for a bigger leap. Next year could be big for his progression, but he has yet to show much ability to compete for race wins on top of finishing a spot lower in the standings.|
|----||--||20th||Still a driver seen as a road course ace and nothing more, Allmendinger will look to improve his oval acumen as he settles into a long-term deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.|
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
|----||--||22nd||Stenhouse appeared to start to figure things out toward the end of the season, which was more or less a lost campaign for Roush Fenway Racing as a whole on the Cup side.|
|----||--||24th||With sponsor GoDaddy -- and its accompanying neon green and orange color scheme -- a thing of the past, Patrick will be harder to spot on the track, until she starts turning heads with her performance. It could be in 2016.|
|----||--||15th||Biffle is another solid bounce-back candidate. He's a much, much better driver than what we saw from him in 2015, and the across the board mediocrity shown by RFR suggests it's more performance-based than driver-based.|
|----||--||29th||In his final season on the circuit with a new (yet-to-be-announced) crew chief, there's nowhere to go but up for Tony Stewart -- right?|