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Who's Where for 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup (Part 5)

Russell SchmidtContributor IJanuary 14, 2011

Jimmie Johnson will return to the Lowe's No. 48 and shoot for a sixth Cup title in 2011.
Jimmie Johnson will return to the Lowe's No. 48 and shoot for a sixth Cup title in 2011.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Racin’ with Russ

Here is Part five of who’s where for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup team lineup for 2011. You might keep a score card as there are many changes in store.

No. 47 - Bobby Labonte returns to action with a new team this year after his so-so ride last year with the No. 71 group. This JTG Daugherty owned team has the potential to put a competitive Toyota under the 2000 Cup champion.

Little Debbie among others will help with the funding while Frank Kerr calls the shots from the crew chief position. Results? Too early to tell, but top 20’s should be a realistic goal for the initial outings.

No. 48 - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Five-time consecutive champion Jimmie Johnson returns with all of the major parts and players well in place including Chad Knaus.

The Hendrick driver has Lowe’s back on the quarters and why not. Can they make it six in a row? My crystal ball says no.

No. 55 & 66 - These two Prism Motorsports cars were the leaders of the start-and-park clan for 2010. They rarely had a sponsor, but made most of the races to collect more than $4 million as they parked their cars usually before the first round of pitstops.

The driver roster was long, headed mostly by Dave Blaney and Michael McDowell. No definite plans for how many races they plan on attempting or the major players involved.

No. 56 - Martin Truex Jr showed some signs of greatness last year with this NAPA backed MWR Toyota ride, but came up short in the win column.

Pat Tryson will continue to call the shots from atop the box.

Last year’s performance of 22nd in points with only seven top 10’s will not get the job done if they have any plans of making this year’s Chase. I’d say they have a tough road to hoe.

No. 71 & 76 - These two teams plans are still undecided at this writing. The No. 71 TRG Motorsports team ran most of the season last year with minimal results despite having Childress engines.

No. 76 - America’s Racing team has Elton Sawyer as their competition director, but there are many unanswered questions at this late date other than the cars being Chevrolets.

From Rumorville - As the Rolex 24 rapidly approaches, the NASCAR driver lineups are swelling among the sporty car ranks. The latest being A.J. Allmendinger and Michael McDowell in the Michael Shank Ford Dallara. Allmendinger led the second day of practice in this division last week. Not bad for a part-timer, eh?

--- Look for 19-year-old Trevor Bayne to pilot the Woods Brothers No. 21 Cup car for the first five races. I see nothing but good for this combo.

--- Michael Waltrip recently announced his entry into this year’s Daytona 500. The two-time winner said it will be his 25th if he makes the show. Get the wreckers ready.

--- The opening round of NASCAR Cup racing this year is the annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Those are the short, but high-dollar warm-ups that have been going on for more than three decades with very entertaining results.

The race organizers just can’t leave well enough alone and have once again fine tuned the eligibility rules with the field being set by the following qualifications, with eligibility based on a driver having competed in Cup within the past two seasons:
* The 12 drivers who qualified for the 2010 Chase
* Past Cup champions
* Past Daytona points race winners
* Past Budweiser Shootout champions
* Cup rookie of the year drivers from 2001-10

This will swell the entry list to around 30, about six to eight more than normal.

That’s it for this week. Next week’s RWR will wrap up Who’s Where in 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup team lineups along with more racing news from around the globe.

Questions? Comments? Contact Russ at racinwithruss@comcast.net

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