Where Drivers Have Landed in NASCAR’s Silly Season Entering 2024
NASCAR’s “silly season” is well underway with drivers landing with new Cup Series teams entering 2024 and the upcoming season. Here’s where each team stands on the precipice of the new year.
Who’s replacing Kevin Harvick?
NASCAR legend Kevin Harvick is out for the 2024 season after hanging up his helmet following a 23-year Cup Series career. During his two-plus decades in the sport, Harvick amassed 60 wins in NASCAR’s premier level and earned the 2014 championship.
Replacing Harvick in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Ford is Josh Berry. The 33-year-old is the most seasoned rookie in the 2024 class and brings plenty of experience to the No. 4 team. Notably, Berry was practically the de facto replacement driver in Cup last year. He competed in eight races for Hendrick last year when Chase Elliott was sidelined due to a broken leg he suffered while snowboarding early in the season. Berry also piloted the No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet following Noah Gragson’s suspension and subsequent dismissal by the team.
Berry competed full-time in the Xfinity Series the past two seasons driving for JR Motorsports. He placed fourth in the 2022 points standings with three wins. In 2023, he racked up 11 top-fives driving the No. 8.
What driver is replacing Aric Almirola?
Noah Gragson replaces Aric Almirola in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Ford for 2024 following Almirola’s retirement from full-time competition.
Gragson had a disappointing rookie season with Legacy Motor Club before it was cut short due to controversy. The 25-year-old’s average finish was 28th before he was suspended by NASCAR for “actions on social media.” Namely, Gragson “liked” a racially insensitive post making light of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
Gragson is getting a second chance, however, with the No. 10 team. In 39 Cup races, Gragson has one top-10 finish, which came in 2022.
Justin Haley moves to Rick Ware Racing
Justin Haley joins Rick Ware Racing for 2024 after announcing his departure from Kaulig Racing during the 2023 season. The surprising move to RWR, typically a backmarker in the Cup Series, comes after the 24-year-old earned six top-10 finishes driving the No. 31 Kaulig entry in 2023.
Haley has one Cup Series win, the 2019 Daytona fall race in which he drove for Spire Motorsports.
Who is replacing Justin Haley?
Daniel Hemric, 32, replaces Justin Haley in the No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet for 2024.
Hemric brings a bevy of experience to the No. 31 team. Hemric earned the 2021 Xfinity Series championship with his sole win in the series. He has 54 top-five finishes in 186 Xfinity races.
Hemric’s 2024 ride marks his return to full-time Cup competition. He piloted the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing entry during the 2019 season.
Spire adds Zane Smith, Carson Hocevar to 2024 lineup
Spire Motorsports fields two rookies for 2024, Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar.
Smith is making the jump to Cup Series following his continued success in the Craftsman Truck Series. Smith earned 2020 Rookie of the Year honors in the series and captured the 2022 championship. Eight of his nine Cup starts came last year with Rick Ware Racing and Front Row Motorsports.
Smith will drive the No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevy.
Carson Hocevar is the Cup Series’ youngest driver in its 2024 rookie class. He will drive the No. 77 entry for Spire.
The 20-year-old makes the jump to Cup after three successful seasons in the Truck Series, including a breakout 2023 campaign in which he won four races and earned 13 top-10s in 23 races. Hocevar isn’t a complete novice in the Cup Series, however. He earned nine Cup starts in 2023, most notably finishing out the last eight races of the season with Legacy Motor Club in the No. 42.
John Hunter Nemechek joins Legacy Motor Club
John Hunter Nemechek will drive the No. 42 for Legacy Motor Club in 2024 as the team switches from Chevrolet to Toyota. Nemechek joins returning LMC driver Erik Jones in the No. 43.
Nemechek left his full-time Cup ride with Front Row Motorsports in 2020. He raced in the Truck Series full time in 21-22, earning seven wins and two top-five finishes in the series championship. He arrives to LMC following a breakout 2023 season in Xfinity where he earned seven wins and 24 top-10s in 33 races, powering his appearance in the Championship Four.
Ty Dillon has yet to land a Cup Series ride for 2024
Ty Dillon’s 2024 season remains a question mark for the 31-year-old.
Dillon drove the No. 77 for Spire full-time in 2023 but has been replaced by Hocevar. The rumor mill has been swirling Dillon will join Kaulig in 2024, but as of this writing, that has not been confirmed. If Dillon does join Kaulig, it could be on a part-time basis. The team confirmed Hemric will drive the No. 31, and AJ Allmendinger will drive the No. 16 in the Daytona 500.