MRN's Pete Pistone looks at the top 10 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver-crew chief pairings heading into the 2018 season.
1. Martin Truex Jr.-Cole Pearn: The Furniture Row Racing pair excelled in near record proportions last season winning eight times, cleaning up in the regular season playoff points system and earning the team's first-ever Cup Series championship. The duo is poised to shine again as they look to become the first back-to-back champion in nearly a decade.
2. Kyle Busch-Adam Stevens: Undeniable talent behind the wheel in Busch is complimented perfectly by Stevens' demeanor and talent in setting up a racecar. They might not always agree on strategy calls inside the emotion of a race, but make no mistake this is a very formidable pairing that will make a serious run for the 2018 title.
3. Kevin Harvick-Rodney Childers: They have been sensational working together since originally paired at Stewart-Haas Racing, including their run to a championship. Harvick was in the picture for last year's crown as well as a member of the Championship 4 field and with the cool, calm and steady hand of Childers calling the shots again in 2018 there's no reason to not see a repeat ahead.
4. Brad Keselowski-Paul Wolfe: This has been a steady team since Roger Penske aligned the sometimes fiery Keselowski with Wolfe several years ago. They were able to find Victory Lane three times a year ago and despite some concern over the ability of the Ford camp to keep up with both Toyota and Chevy, counting them out would be a huge mistake.
5. Joey Logano-Todd Gordon: The frustration of last year and missing the playoffs may have in an odd way helped galvanize the Logano-Gordon bond even further. There is determination to put the bitterness of 2017 way back in the rear view mirror and Logano's driving ability in concert with master tactician Gordon has a solid chance of returning to championship form.
6. Kyle Larson-Chad Johnston: It was a breakout year for Larson a year ago with his four victories. But don't underestimate the contribution made by crew chief Johnston and his deep engineering background. Maybe for the first time in his Cup career, Larson has the equipment capable of showcasing his immense talent and Johnson is a big reason why.
7. Jimmie Johnson-Chad Knaus: It's easy to write off this legendary and future Hall of Fame duo after by their standards a "down" year in 2017. Don't do it. The longest tenured driver-crew chief pairing in the Cup garage may have been off last season but neither has lost a step. It might be scary to see what this tandem can top feeling like there's something to prove.