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The 2024 NASCAR Silly Season (Part I)

Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sean McKean

Image Credit - Butch Dill, AP Photo

After an amazing 2023 season, we head into the NASCAR 2024 offseason. We will compile all of the confirmed free agent moves, and give a short conclusion and quick thoughts about the move. Then, we will see which teams left are still in the market searching for a new driver, and predict who would be filling that seat.

Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford, #4

Image Credits - Sean Gardner, Getty Images

Introduction: After a legendary ten years with Stewart- Haas Racing, going into the 2023 season, Kevin Harvick has decided to hang up his gloves, with one championship and five final-four appearances with the #4 car. As the veteran departs, SHR decided to bring in the 33- year- old Josh Berry, who never had a full season in the Cup Series, but has shown flashes when filling in for Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, highlighted by a second place finish in Richmond. 

Josh Berry’s first full time ride in NASCAR came from JR Motorsport in the XfFinity Series, where he took the field by storm in his first full season, snatching three wins in Dover, Charlotte, and Las Vegas. He also went on a stretch seven races in a row finishing within the top ten, showcasing his consistency skill and composure.

Thoughts: SHR is currently in rebuild mode, after a miserable 2023 season with no wins. They opted for a reliable, but older driver in Josh Berry for the 2024 season. Josh Berry could bring them consistent top 15 finishes if the car functions properly, and possibly take them to the win column if all goes well. 

Noah Gragson, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford, # 10

Image Credits - Jonathan Bachman, Getty Images

Introduction: After 16 years of racing - six of which spent at Stewart-Haas, Aric Almirola has retired from full-time competition in the Cup Series. After a long wait, Stewart-Haas announced that they would be signing Noah Gragson to pilot the # 10 car. 

Gragson, the 25- year- old Las Vegas native, was projected to have success in his rookie season. However, a poor car alongside a PR meltdown led to his rookie season being somewhat of a disaster. Even with the poor rookie season, SHR decided they wanted to pair the young driver with experienced crew chief Drew Blickensderfer in the # 10 car, giving him a chance to shine. 

Thoughts: Even with the PR disaster, Gragson’s potential and achievements in previous championships has seemed to convince Tony Stewart that Gragson was a good enough driver to be worth a multi-year deal, and we will see if Stewart made the right choice. With a Ford car that has been slightly underperforming in recent years, expect Gragson to struggle early, but improve throughout the season.

Daniel Hemric, Kaulig Racing, Chevrolet, # 31

Image Credits - Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

Introduction: As Justin Haley leaves Kaulig Racing for Rick Ware Racing, Kaulig decided to call up Daniel Hemric to drive the # 31 car. 

Hemric, a 32 year old veteran, will be driving in his second full season in the Cup Series. His first full season came in 2019 for Richard Childress Racing, where he secured 25th place in the championship. Subsequently, he returned to the XFinity series for the next four seasons, securing a championship in 2021 with Joe Gibbs Racing. In the past two seasons, Hemric showed that he can consistently secure top ten finishes, with the occasional top five finish. He will be paired up with crew chief Trent Owens, who is in his 11th season in the Cup Series.

Thoughts: Daniel Hemric is the perfect driver within their system to replace Justin Haley, a promising young driver who left Kaulig after a fall-out. He has experience in the Cup Series, and has the necessary skills to compete. Even though the car isn’t expected to be competitive in 2024, Hemric will have a chance to prove that he belongs in the 31 car.

John Hunter Nemechek, Legacy Motor Club, Toyota, # 42

Image Credits - Sean Gardner, Getty Images

Introduction: After a horrible 2023 season, Legacy Motor Club decided that John Hunter Nemechek will be get a chance at the # 42 car. 

Nemechek had one season in 2020, where he took 27th place overall in the # 38 Front Row Motorsport car. He will partner up with Ben Beshore as crew chief, the same crew chief that helped Nemechek to reach the 2023 Xfinity Series Championship Four.

Thoughts: Nemechek won’t be the driver that takes LMC above and beyond, but he will provide them with consistent performance, as he did with Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series. Similar to Hemric, one season in the Cup Series gives him the necessary experience to lead a rebuilding LMC. He will have one season to prove he still belongs in the Cup Series, or else Jimmie Johnson will be looking for another replacement.


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