The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press

The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press

The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press


Best before-school coffee spot?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

2024 NASCAR Silly Season Review – Part 1: NASCAR Cup Series

2024 NASCAR Silly Season Review - Part 1: NASCAR Cup Series

The 2024 Daytona Speedweeks are not that far away. Over time, drivers have left and swapped rides, or possibly have left the sport as a whole. From the departure of Kevin Harvick to the addition of some new kids on the block, let’s get this silly season review started.


Josh Berry replacing newly-retired Kevin Harvick in the #4 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

If someone were to talk about potential replacements for Kevin Harvick when he announced that he was retiring from NASCAR after 2023 at the beginning of last year, I would be sure that nine times out of ten, Josh Berry would not be a part of that list. The majority of the list would likely include the likes of Cole Custer and Riley Herbst, the team’s two Xfinity Series drivers. However, Berry made his next-gen era debut at Las Vegas for Hendrick Motorsports last year following the injury of normal driver Chase Elliott. During his substitution stint, he was able to finish a career-best second at the first Richmond race, which shocked some people for sure. Berry is coming off a winless Xfinity Series season in 2023 with JR Motorsports, in which he was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs on route to an 11th place points finish. With the underperformance of Stewart-Haas in recent years, and following the switch of manufacturers for Berry, will the short track ace be able to replicate the success Harvick had during his SHR tenure?


Noah Gragson makes triumphant return to NASCAR (following his 2023 suspension),  replacing Aric Almirola in the #10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

This headline is almost the exact same as the last one, except with different drivers. Former driver of the #10, Aric Almirola, is leaving SHR for a part-time role with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program. And once again, the man replacing him is a name that nobody at the beginning of 2023 expected to see take reins of the #10 the very next year. Everything that could have gone wrong for Noah Gragson did last season. He did so bad that you could probably even compare him to Nathaniel Hackett when he was head coach of the NFL’s Denver Broncos in 2022. Despite the fact that he was paired with his Xfinity crew chief from 2022, Luke Lambert, he recorded a staggering six DNFs, an average finish of roughly 28th, and missed the Sonoma race in June due to a concussion suffered from a wreck at World Wide Technology Raceway earlier in the month. After liking an offensive post on social media, Legacy Motor Club quickly ran out of patience and fired him. Coming into a fresh start with a new team, Gragson will have to quickly right his past wrongs if he wants to improve going into the new season.


Rick Ware Racing’s anchor driver, JJ Yeley, not returning to team in 2024; Kaz Grala running 25 races in the #15

Fans might remember JJ Yeley from when he finished 2nd to Casey Mears in the thrilling 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Fans also might remember when a young gun in Kaz Grala scored his first career Truck Series win at Daytona back in 2017 after a big pileup happened with 0.5 laps to go. Now, Grala will take over the duties that Yeley had the last few years at RWR. The Boston native last drove for Sam Hunt Racing in the Xfinity Series last year, where he finished 17th in points with two top fives and nine top ten finishes. He will also attempt to make the Daytona 500 with Front Row Motorsports after a one year hiatus. Grala will be a part of a young lineup at RWR with full-timer Justin Haley. Will this big jump prove to be too much or just right for Kaz?


Kaulig Racing #16 going the collaboration effort route in 2024; AJ Allmendinger demoted to Xfinity Series, will still run on a partial schedule with Cup Series team

This was one of the biggest silly season rumors all year in NASCAR. What would AJ Allmendinger do for 2024? The 42 year-old is coming off a season where he grabbed his third career Cup Series win at the Charlotte Roval in 2024. This was his first win since Indianapolis in 2021 and his first as a full-time driver since Watkins Glen in 2014 (His first career win). Despite all of the hype going into the season, as well as the achievements obtained by season’s end, Kaulig Racing decided to demote Allmendinger back to the Xfinity Series. It was a very controversial move that many fans criticized. Kaulig Racing is establishing a new motto in “Trophy Hunting” for 2024, but will demoting the road course ace really do the trick?


Daniel Hemric returns to NASCAR Cup Series action with Kaulig Racing, replacing Justin Haley

Ah, yes. The 2019 NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year will be making his grand return to the big stage for the 2023 season, replacing Rick Ware-bound driver Justin Haley in car #31. Daniel Hemric, since winning the award during his first full-time Cup season roughly five years ago, has since been demoted to the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he won the championship back in 2021 during his lone season with Joe Gibbs Racing. He has also spent time with JR Motorsports part-time in 2020, as well as with Kaulig’s Xfinity Series program from 2022-2023. With this history, some might think that he has been doing well in the Xfinity Series, right? Well, look closer. Hemric has been unlucky a countless number of times throughout his career, finishing second more times than he has finished first. He has not ten, not five, not three, not two, but ONE career win throughout NASCAR’s top three series. That was when he nipped Austin Cindric (barely) at the line to win the 2021 Xfinity Series championship. Hemric also ran decently in his part-time slate with the team back in 2022. With Haley now out the door, Hemric will need to follow up in the best way possible if he wants to stay at NASCAR’s top level.


Legacy Motor Club switches to Toyota, promotes John Hunter Nemechek from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program

2023 was best described as a disastrous season for Legacy Motor Club during their first year under new management. The team just came off a win at Darlington with Erik Jones in 2022, but he did substantially worse the next year. Stewart-Haas Racing newcomer Noah Gragson got suspended in the middle of his rookie season, ending it prematurely. In the meantime, LMC decided to make a switch from the bowties at Chevrolet to Toyota. They also bring in a new driver with prior Cup Series experience in John Hunter Nemechek, one of Toyota’s top prospects. The Mooresville, NC native nearly scored an Xfinity Series championship with a series-leading seven wins last season on route to a fourth place finish in the standings. Nemechek is no stranger to Cup Series racing as well as the next-gen car. He competed in one race for 23XI Racing at Homestead in 2022 following the suspension of Bubba Wallace. John Hunter also replaced Matt Tifft at the end of 2019 (due to a seizure) and ran the full 2020 season for Front Row Motorsports. Now associated with a new pipeline and with more hype surrounding him than ever, can John Hunter Nemechek show that he’s worthy of a better ride down the road?


Justin Haley makes shocking switch from Kaulig Racing to Rick Ware Racing for 2024; will drive #51

Justin Haley was once the master of the superspeedway races, winning three straight races at those tracks during the pandemic in the Xfinity Series. After spending five years within Kaulig Racing’s pipeline, Haley shocked the NASCAR world in mid-July by announcing that he would be driving for Rick Ware Racing in 2024. This could mean that Haley would become a favorite to receive a promotion to Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in the coming years, since RWR and RFK both have an alliance with each other. I’m sure that it will be on Haley’s mind throughout his time with the team. The driver based in Winamac, IN nearly scored a victory at the inaugural Chicago Street Race last year before Shane Van Gisbergen passed him late in the race. Following the events of Cody Ware last spring and RWR acquiring these younger drivers, can this team recover and go on the upward swing in 2024?

Spire Motorsports expands to a three-car team for 2024; Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar in, Ty Dillon out

2024 is going to be a big season for Spire Motorsports. They will be bringing in two new drivers and adding a new car in the process (Via Live Fast Motorsports’ charter). The all-new #71 Chevrolet Camaro will feature 2022 Truck Series champion Zane Smith. The driver out of Huntington Beach, CA competed in eight Cup Series races last year with Front Row Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing, where he scored a top ten in the Coca Cola 600 with FRM. He also finished 7th at the Xfinity Series Nashville race with RSS Racing, his only attempt in that series all year. While he was the defending champion of the Truck Series coming into last season as well as winning two straight season openers, Smith was only able to finish 7th in the points and come away with a championship hangover. He only won two races last year compared to his four in 2022. However, he’s getting a fresh start within the Trackhouse Racing development pipeline as a Spire Motorsports driver, as well as being paired with first-year crew chief Stephen Doran. Can Zane back up his truck talent with some more talent at the higher level?

In addition, Spire Motorsports has also let go of veteran driver Ty Dillon in favor of NIECE Motorsports Truck Series driver Carson Hocevar. Ever since he entered the scene in the late 2010’s, Carson and his comrades have worked tirelessly to reach the pinnacle of NASCAR. However, he was forced to face adversity along the way. He drove three full-time seasons in a truck, but failed to win in his first two. He was able to rebound in 2023, though, as he scored four victories and made the final four on route to a 4th place finish in the standings. Hocevar scored his first career victory at Texas following a last lap crash involving Zane Smith and Nick Sanchez. Carson was also given the opportunity to race in five Xfinity Series races for Spire (Best finish of sixth at Darlington in the spring) as well as nine Cup Series races for Spire and Legacy Motor Club (Best finish of 11th at Bristol in the fall). Hocevar will be paired with Luke Lambert as crew chief, who almost won an Xfinity Series title with Noah Gragson in 2022. Similar to his teammate, will skipping Xfinity and moving straight to Cup prove to be the best move for Hocevar?


NASCAR’s 75th season was super exciting and very special. It was hard-fought up until the end, with Ryan Blaney ultimately coming out on top. While the big celebration might be over, the 76th season will be full of change, whether it is between drivers, a change in talent, or a change in season outcome. There are still some additional questions to be answered, though. Who will win Rookie of the Year? Which driver will improve the most? Will these silly seasons work out for not only the drivers, but the teams? And most importantly, who will come out on top, and will Blaney defend his title? Watch and learn from February the 18th to November the 10th this year!

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Patriot Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.