NASCAR: Rumored driver change would mark five teams in five years

If Ty Dillon is indeed confirmed as A.J. Allmendinger's replacement, Kaulig Racing would be his fifth team in the last five NASCAR Cup Series seasons.
Ty Dillon, NASCAR
Ty Dillon, NASCAR / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Say what you want about Ty Dillon, but he knows how to stick around in the NASCAR Cup Series even when he appears to be down and out. He is believed to be on his way to making that true again in 2024.

After a career-worst 2023 season which saw him record zero top 10 finishes en route to a last place finish in the standings -- by far -- among full-time drivers, he is rumored to replace A.J. Allmendinger behind the wheel of the No. 16 Chevrolet at Kaulig Racing in 2024, with Allmendinger officially set to drop back down to the Xfinity Series.

Should this relatively surprising move be confirmed, the 31-year-old Welcome, North Carolina native would be on his way to his fifth team in the last five seasons.

After the 2020 season, Germain Racing, where Dillon had been since his rookie season in 2017, folded and sold their charter to 23XI Racing.

The following year, 23XI Racing actually had Dillon drive for them in the preseason Busch Light Clash at the Daytona International Speedway road course since Bubba Wallace was not eligible, and we're not even counting them as one of his five teams since 2020.

Dillon drove part-time for Gaunt Brothers Racing throughout the 2021 season, after which they also folded. He was linked to GMS Racing for the 2022 season as they made their entrance into the Cup Series, and he ended up driving for Petty GMS Motorsports after GMS Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports merged.

But after a rough season in which he was handily beaten by teammate Erik Jones in every major statistical category, he was let go. Spire Motorsports signed him for the 2023 season, only to see a similar scenario unfold, with teammate Corey LaJoie consistently outperforming him.

It was no surprise that Spire Motorsports, even after adding a third entry upon purchasing another charter from Live Fast Motorsports, opted to move on from Dillon after the 2023 season, bringing in rookies Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith, the latter on loan from Trackhouse Racing Team, to join LaJoie for the 2024 season instead.

Now Ty Dillon is believed to be on his way to yet another chance in the NASCAR Cup Series

And aside from this being arguably Dillon's best Cup Series opportunity yet, the move would actually make quite a lot of sense for Kaulig Racing.

Yes, Allmendinger won a race for the team back in 2021, which was before they ever competed full-time in the Cup Series. And yes, he won another race for the team in 2023, his first full season in the series since 2018.

But Kaulig Racing are clearly a much more competitive team in the Xfinity Series than they are in the Cup Series. With Daniel Hemric moving up to replace Haley and Chandler Smith also out, likely to join Joe Gibbs Racing, there was a perfect opportunity for Allmendinger to drop down to the Xfinity Series and be a lot more competitive on a much more regular basis.

Allmendinger was a championship contender and a multi-race winner in both 2021 and 2022 as a full-time driver, and there is no reason to expect anything different in 2024. Even as a part-time Xfinity Series driver in 2020 and 2023, he won multiple races each year.

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While we can debate day and night whether Dillon is the right man for the job, all the way up until the season unofficially gets underway with the Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in early February, the fact is that this move could benefit the organization as a whole either way.