Not much is happening in the NASCAR Cup Series world between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as the wait for the start of the 2024 season in February continues. But that is set to change at some point, as there are still three teams that have chartered seats to fill for next year.
Kaulig Racing, Rick Ware Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing are the three teams that have not yet solidified their driver lineups for next year, even though each of these three teams have ironically already made one driver change.
Daniel Hemric is set to replace Justin Haley behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet at Kaulig Racing, Haley is set to move to Rick Ware Racing as their new full-time driver, something they had been lacking following Cody Ware's April arrest, and Josh Berry is set to replace the retired Kevin Harvick behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Two of three vacant seats expected to go to full-time drivers for 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season
The exception is the second Rick Ware Racing seat alongside Haley (No. 15 Ford/No. 51 Ford TBD), where the expectation is that the team will continue to run a shared entry.
Kaulig Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, however, find themselves in nearly identical situations. They both know for a fact that they will be making a second change for 2024, even without having made a second confirmation yet.
A.J. Allmendinger is surprisingly set to drop down to Kaulig Racing's Xfinity Series team, even after a first full Cup Series season with the organization in which he won a race.
With Hemric moving up from the Xfinity Series to replace Haley and Chandler Smith likely on his way to Joe Gibbs Racing's Xfinity Series team, there was a need for Kaulig Racing to sign a top-tier driver for their Xfinity Series team -- and an opportunity for Allmendinger to be competitive on a much regular basis by giving up his Cup ride. So the move does make some sense, from that perspective.
Ty Dillon, who has been replaced by incoming rookie Carson Hocevar at Spire Motorsports, is expected to take Allmendinger's place behind the wheel of the No. 16 Chevrolet, marking his fifth team in five years.
As for Stewart-Haas Racing, they know that they need to find a new driver for the No. 10 Ford, as Aric Almirola has confirmed that he won't return in 2024. Unlike last year, he will not be changing his mind this time around.
Noah Gragson, who had previously been viewed as a possibility for Stewart-Haas Racing when Almirola planned to retire after the 2022 season, is the rumored favorite for that seat after losing his ride with Legacy Motor Club before the 2023 season concluded.
Should Dillon and Gragson be confirmed at Kaulig Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, respectively, and Rick Ware Racing opt to have multiple drivers for their second entry, that would give the Cup Series 35 full-time drivers for the 2024 season. Just one chartered entry, the second Rick Ware Racing car, would be a shared entry.