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The 2024 NASCAR Silly Season (Part II)

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sean McKean

Image Credit - Robert Scheer, IndyStar

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.

Justin Haley, Rick Ware Racing, Ford, # 51

Image Credits - Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Introduction: After a stellar season with Kaulig Racing, racking up six top ten finishes and a second place finish in the Chicago Street Race, Justin Haley has elected to move from Kaulig Racing to RWR.

After being left without a firm commitment from Kaulig, who has been looking for more sponsorship, Rick Ware swooped in and offered a full time ride for Haley. Haley will be the first full time driver for RWR, and he will partner up with Jerry Kelley, a long time NASCAR pit crew member, who was appointed as crew chief for # 51 before the 2023 season.

Thoughts: Justin Haley had a decent season, but ultimately struggled to stay within playoff contention, due to the car’s poor performance. He has shown that he can perform well in a competitive car, having]multiple top ten finishes to show for it. If RWR can provide Haley with a decent car, # 51 could be a dark horse contender for the playoffs by virtue of a good result in a plate-race.

Zane Smith, Spire Motorsport, Chevrolet, # 71

Image Credits - Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Introduction: The 2022 NASCAR Trucks Series champion will get his first taste of full time NASCAR racing with Spire Motorsport. Zane Smith signed a multi- year deal with Trackhouse Racing: He will spend the 2024 season at Spire, before moving to Trackhouse in 2025. 

He won the 2022 Truck Series title in dominating fashion, and he returned in 2023 looking to repeat successes, but poor performances in Bristol and Talladega, then a disqualification due to unapproved windshield support at Homestead sealed his fate and eliminated him from the playoffs before the final round. The 24-year old Californian native will be paired up with rookie crew chief Stephen Doran, who was working on the #4 car since 2014.

Thoughts: Zane Smith is one of the up and coming drivers, being highly regarded within the field. Trackhouse was able to land the young star on a multi-year deal, the first step towards Trackhouse’s expansion.

Zane Smith has shown that he can put out good performances, and his performances during clutch time has been amazing. If he can iron out a few issues here and there, he will be a race winner in no time.

Carson Hocevar, Spire Motorsport, Chevrolet, # 77

Image Credits - James Gilbert/Getty Images

Introduction: After a not so great season with Ty Dillon, Spire Motorsport decided to part ways with Dillon, and offered a seat to the 20-year old Carson Hocevar, who has been one of the most promising drivers in the Trucks Series. 

After two consecutive years of being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, Hocevar made a run all the way to the Final Four in the 2023 season, and finished third in the championship.

He racked up four wins, eleven top five finishes, and a stretch of five consecutive top five finishes from Darlington to Nashville. He will be paired up with Luke Lambert, the crew chief best known for leading Noah Gragson to a highly successful 2022 Xfinity season.

Thoughts: Carson Hocevar has been one of youngest drivers in recent history to make the jump to the Cup Series. He will be working with one of the best crew chiefs in the field, and will be given an opportunity to shine. He has shown great potential, and just has to iron out the on track incidents with other drivers and consistency issues, which are limiting factors to his game.

Unconfirmed Yet

Rick Ware Racing, Ford, # 15

RWR has yet to confirm their second driver, but possible drivers include Cody Ware and J.J. Yeley. Last year, Cody Ware was suspended on a felony assault, but was later reinstated after the case was dismissed. It is possible that they will be running with multiple part time drivers for the # 15 car, but Cody Ware is the front runner for the full time drive.

Kaulig Racing, Chevrolet, # 16

Kaulig Racing announced that AJ Allmendinger will be returning to Xfinity Series after an unexpectedly great season for the veteran. Allmendinger secured multiple top five finishes throughout the season, including a win at the Charlotte Roval. AJ Allmendinger will run part time for Kaulig in the Cup through 2024, with other part time drivers yet to be announced. Potential drivers such as Ty Dillon are being considered by the team.


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