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2024 NASCAR Silly Season Review – Part 2.5: NASCAR Xfinity Cup Series


Editor’s Note: Welcome back! Here is the second part of Cameron Delgado’s amazing 2024 NASCAR Silly Season Review, Part 2. Check out his outstanding writing and NASCAR coverage below.


AJ Allmendinger returning to a familiar territory in 2024, following his 21st overall points finish and one win for Kaulig in the Cup Series in 2023

AJ Allmendinger’s career ups and downs have been shocking over the past few seasons. Following his release from JTG Daugherty Racing in the Cup Series after a 22nd place finish in points in 2018, Allmendinger had to settle for a part-time Xfinity Series campaign with Kaulig Racing for the next two seasons, winning at the Charlotte Roval both times and also winning his first NASCAR race on an oval at Atlanta in 2020, after fifteen years of being active in the sport up to that point. He returned to full-time action in 2021 with the same team, and also raced with them for the 2022 season. Allmendinger scored ten wins, remained undefeated at the Roval for every time he entered the race, and finished 4th and 5th in the standings respectively over the course of those two seasons. He received a promotion to the Cup Series in 2023 following a partial schedule the previous season, his first full-time Cup season in five years. Despite four top five finishes during the latter half of the season, winning at the Roval and finishing 21st in points, Kaulig made the decision to move him back down to the Xfinity Series. Allmendinger goes into the new season as a favorite to win the title. He will once again be driving car #16, the number he used over the course of his tenure from 2021-2022 as well as in some of his part-time starts. However, the road courses may not be an automatic win for him this time, as there’s a new driver in the field looking to stop him that will be discussed later. However, it seems safe to say that Allmendinger will go into the new season looking as confident as ever.


Joe Gibbs Racing returning to four full-time Xfinity Series cars with a new-look lineup; Sheldon Creed, Chandler Smith, Aric Almirola running majority of season

Coach Joe Gibbs and his racing team entered 2023 as the defending champions of the series, leading to the promotion of grandson Ty Gibbs to replace Kyle Busch. That year, John Hunter Nemechek contended for the championship, while other full-time driver Sammy Smith made the playoffs following his win at the spring Phoenix race. Both drivers surely met their expectations. The all-star entry also did well, with Ryan Truex (Brother of Martin Truex, Jr.) scoring his first NASCAR win at Dover (a race I attended), Ty Gibbs performing as expected whenever he was entered into the field, and Denny Hamlin winning his annual fall Darlington race. However, JGR will look a heck of a lot different for the 2024 season.

Alpine, California’s Sheldon Creed has been acquired by JGR from Richard Childress Racing’s team, and will drive the #18 Toyota Supra previously occupied by Smith. The 2021 Truck Series champion was able to make the playoffs in 2023 after missing them the year prior, but was still unable to score a win despite being a contender week in and week out. However, 2024 will be a time of change for Creed. His new team in Joe Gibbs Racing is expected to turn him into more than just a playoff-caliber driver. They are expected to turn him into a driver that can win races and land him on the better side of the coin. He will also be paired with a fresh new crew chief in Sam McAulay, a fellow engineer who has served as interim crew chief to Denny Hamlin in the past. McAulay also led Hamin to a Coca-Cola 600 win in May of 2022. If Creed and McAulay adapt to their environment properly, they will surely be having fans on the edge of their seats.

The #19 car will feature a variety of drivers, with Ryan Truex, Joe Graf, Jr., Taylor Gray, and William Sawalich already confirmed, and could potentially add more to the roster during the season. Truex, as mentioned before, won the Dover race last year, scoring his first career win, as Martin Truex, Jr. won the delayed Cup race two days later. He had been racing for almost a decade and a half up to that point, and it was surely a long time coming for him. Another New Jersey native in Graf also competed in six races for the team last year, and did not do as poorly as people expected, as he did finish in the top twenty in a few of those starts. Gray, the younger brother of fellow Truck Series teammate and former drag racing champion Tanner Gray, ran his first season in a truck in 2023 and finished 15th in points despite missing the first three races due to age limitations. He has nearly won a race on multiple occasions in that series, most notably at IRP in 2022, where he was leading on a late restart until John Hunter Nemechek took him out. Last but not least, Sawalich is the defending ARCA Menards Series East champion, and he is also scheduled to make more Truck Series starts with TRICON Garage to gain experience. He won’t be able to race until the very end of the season, as he turns 18 in October. This star-studded entry will be led by first-year crew chief Seth Chavka, another former JGR engineer with interim crew chief experience. He will replace Jason Ratcliff atop the pit box, who recently retired. Expect to see this car running at the front of the field most weeks, no matter who is behind the wheel.

The #20 entry will be driven by Aric Almirola in an estimated 23 races, and their driver from last year, John Hunter Nemechek, in 10 races. Almirola ran the last six full-time seasons in the Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing, even announcing an unretirement in the summer of 2022 due to pressure from his sponsors. He racked up only two wins during his tenure with SHR, at Talladega in the fall of 2018 and New Hampshire in the summer of 2021 (The only win for the team that year, in fact). Almirola reunites with JGR, a team that he raced for early in his career during his days in the Xfinity (then Busch) Series. John Hunter Nemechek will also drive this car in races Almirola does not compete in, where he is surely expected to become a contender in all of those races. Another new crew chief in Tyler Allen will be leading the team. Unlike McAulay and Chavka, however, Allen has no crew chiefing experience. What can this team achieve with their two drivers and new crew chief this season?

Finally, former Kaulig Racing driver Chandler Smith reunites with Toyota after only one season in the Chevrolet pipeline. He will be driving the all-new #81 Toyota Supra, marking the first time since 2021 that the team will be fielding four full-time entries. The Talking Rock, Georgia driver will have Jeff Meendering atop his pit box, who worked with Sammy Smith in 2023 and Brandon Jones from 2019-2022. Drivers who have worked with Meendering, however, are shown to usually only score roughly 1-2 wins a season and become early playoff exits. Chandler scored a victory last season with Kaulig at Richmond, his first in the series. He also nearly won a Truck Series championship in 2022 driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. What can Chandler Smith do to create a strong bond with his crew chief, and will he be able to make a deep playoff push this season?


Blaine Perkins running full-time for RSS Racing in 2024, driving the #29 Ford Mustang

Now this was the team that certainly raised eyebrows this silly season. Most fans were speculating that Hollywood actor and former Rette Jones Racing ARCA Menards Series driver Frankie Muniz would take over this ride following his lone season in the series. Lots of people thought he would fit perfectly with a fresh new team in Xfinity. However, all of that was for nothing once the team announced that Bakersfield, California native Blaine Perkins would be driving the #29 car full-time this season. Most people remember Perkins for his season in the ARCA Menards Series West in 2020, where he finished second to Jesse Love in points. He also drove a full-time season in the Truck Series for CR7 Motorsports where he finished an abysmal 29th in points and failed to qualify for the Martinsville race. He was scheduled to race in the Xfinity Series full-time for SS-Greenlight Racing in 2023, but ended up being released after the fifth race at Atlanta, and eventually joined OUR Motorsports to finish off the season. He missed Dover due to a disastrous crash at Talladega where he flipped down the backstretch, and failed to qualify for the Texas race. It is surely a do or die season for the former ARCA West runner-up.

Young’s Motorsports starts an Xfinity Series team with Leland Honeyman, Jr. as full-time driver

Truck Series team Young’s Motorsports will be entering the Xfinity Series next season with a familiar face behind the wheel in Leland Honeyman, Jr. driving the #42 Chevrolet Camaro. Honeyman ran a full ARCA Menards Series East season for the team in 2022, finishing 3rd in points despite scoring no wins. He ran one Truck Series race for the team in 2022 at Bristol where he finished 29th. The Mooresville, NC native will be looking to build upon this new team, and replicate the consistency of AM Racing, a fellow team who went through a similar situation.


Alpha Prime Racing promotes Ryan Ellis to full-time driver, adds Brennan Poole to roster; downsizing to two full-time cars

Alpha Prime Racing, a team co-owned by owner-drivers Caesar Bacarella and Tommy Joe Martins, will also be looking different for the 2024 season. They will be downsizing from three full-time entries to two, in an attempt to compete more efficiently this season. A team who has never had a driver run all 33 races, Alpha Prime will be rocking two full-time drivers for the new season.

Veteran driver Ryan Ellis will be piloting the #43 Chevrolet Camaro. The driver out of Ashburn, Virginia ran 31/33 races during the 2023 season with a best finish of 11th at Talladega. Ellis has been competing in the three touring levels of NASCAR since 2012, with 98 Xfinity Series starts to his name as well as 26 Truck Series starts and even 6 Cup Series starts. Ellis will also have veteran crew chief Mike Hillman, Sr. to pair with. Ellis is surely looking forward to his first season in which he is slated to run 100% of the races. Oh, and don’t forget: the spring Atlanta race will mark his 100th Xfinity Series start, and he surely wants to go out with a bang in that one.

Former Cup Series full-timer and Xfinity race runner-up Brennan Poole will move from JD Motorsports to Alpha Prime Racing in 2024, driving the #44 Chevrolet Camaro. Poole ran a near-full 2020 season with Premium Motorsports (Eventually bought by Rick Ware Racing) and also ran some Cup races in 2023 with Ware. Poole is widely known for crossing the finish line first at the 2016 Talladega race, only to have his win rescinded because the caution came out and Elliott Sadler was leading at the time the field froze. With another veteran crew chief in Frank Kerr atop his pit box, will this be the year Poole finally rebound from that fateful day this year?


Kyle Weatherman finally gets a full-season gig as DGM Racing promotes him to full-time driver in 2024

Wentzville, Missouri’s Kyle Weatherman is one of the quietest underdogs on the NASCAR scene. He is known for taking underperforming equipment and running in spots where it isn’t usually found. He has done this for teams such as Mike Harmon Racing and even Jesse Iwuji and Emmitt Smith’s short-lived NASCAR team. He also ran for JD Motorsports and DGM Racing part-time last year and will now be getting a full-time gig with the latter team this season. Weatherman will be driving the #91 Chevrolet Camaro for the team. Could we see the 26 year-old getting a promotion in the near future if he keeps doing what he has been doing?


V8 Supercars and Chicago Street Race champion Shane Van Gisbergen will make his first ever championship run in the Americas, piloting the #97 for Kaulig Racing

Remember when I mentioned that Kaulig Racing will be a force to be reckoned with this season, especially on road courses with the returning AJ Allmendinger? Well, this man could potentially be one of the only drivers that can compete with him on those road courses, as his own teammate nonetheless. Shane Van Gisbergen is a three-time V8 Supercars champion in the land down under, and won his first ever NASCAR race at the Cup Series’ inaugural Chicago Street Race last July 4th weekend. He additionally competed in a Truck Series race for NIECE Motorsports at IRP where he finished 19th. The Kiwi will definitely need to adjust to racing on ovals, as he has raced on street and permanent courses throughout most of his career. With veteran crew chief Bruce Schlicker to call the shots, will SVG’s development prove successful in the United States?



The 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series silly season was once again jam-packed, seeing the return of fellow drivers like Allmendinger as well as the new kids on the block such as Love and SVG. There’s just one thing waiting for every driver though; a shot at winning the championship at Phoenix in November. The drivers must adapt to their new homes as best as possible, and if done correctly, they will all have bright futures ahead of them. However, there’s just one more question standing in the way. Who is going to come out on top in NASCAR’s finals?

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