With December underway, we are now more than a full month into the offseason between the 2023 and 2024 NASCAR Cup Series seasons. As the new year approaches, the focus is slowly but surely beginning to turn to the 2024 season.
There are still a few chartered entries without confirmed drivers for the 2024 season, three of 36 to be exact. One of those three is expected to be shared by multiple drivers, while the other two have been heavily linked to two drivers in particular. All things considered, the offseason began with silly season largely behind us.
Interestingly, all three teams that still have empty seats for the 2024 season have already made at least one major driver change. So regardless of what happens, barring something totally unexpected, there are five teams making driver changes for next year.
Those five teams are Kaulig Racing, Legacy Motor Club, Rick Ware Racing, Spire Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas Racing.
Of those five teams, only Legacy Motor Club and Spire Motorsports have solidified their 2024 NASCAR Cup Series driver lineups
Amid the team's switch from Chevrolet to Toyota, Legacy Motor Club opted to go with former Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek as Noah Gragson's replacement. They were notably considering this change to the No. 42 car even before Gragson was suspended and ultimately released after "liking" an inappropriate meme on social media.
Spire Motorsports have expanded from two cars to three, purchasing a third charter for roughly $40 million from ex-full-time team Live Fast Motorsports. Even without the expansion considered, they made a change, replacing Ty Dillon with former Niece Motorsports Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet.
As for the third entry, former Front Row Motorsports Truck Series champion Zane Smith is set to drive the No. 71 Chevrolet, marking the first time since 2011 with a No. 71 car in the series. Smith signed a multi-year deal with Trackhouse Racing Team, but with no room at the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team in 2024, he has been loaned out to Spire Motorsports.
That leaves us with Kaulig Racing, Rick Ware Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing.
Former Kaulig Racing driver Justin Haley left to drive full-time for Rick Ware Racing, a team that had been without a full-time driver following Cody Ware's April arrest. Matt Kaulig's team promoted Daniel Hemric from their Xfinity Series program to take his place behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet. Rick Ware Racing's other seat is expected to be shared by multiple drivers, just as it usually is.
Kaulig Racing have yet to announce the driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet, but it is believed that Dillon will replace A.J. Allmendinger, who is indeed set to drop back down to the Xfinity Series -- even after winning a Cup Series race in 2023.
Then there is Stewart-Haas Racing. Driver changes are nothing new here, as they have now altered their lineup after seven of the last eight seasons, but this marks the first time during that stretch when they made -- or will have made -- multiple changes.
Former JR Motorsports Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry is set to replace the Fox Sports-bound Kevin Harvick behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford, and Gragson is rumored to replace the outgoing Aric Almirola behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford.
Almirola is expected to compete part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing's Xfinity Series team.
Should the expected changes be confirmed, there will be 35 full-time drivers during the 2024 Cup Series season, which is officially scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 18 with the 66th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
2024 NASCAR Cup Series action is scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 4 with the preseason Busch Light Clash exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Sign up with FuboTV to get a free trial and don't miss any of the action!