Nashville sparking Silly Season confirmations

Following a week off on Fathers Day weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series season starts a 20 week stretch to the finish line beginning on Friday in Nashville. While it was the first time on track since Sonoma, the off track news was bigger today than the action on the 1.33-mile concrete oval.

Bubba Wallace (162.072 mph) topped the speed charts in his No. 23 Toyota but it was the announcement prior to the 50 minute session and the one after it that stole the thunder.

JTG Daugherty Racing announced prior to the session that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would be returning to their car on a new multi-year deal. The announcement thought didn’t specify if JTG’s No. 47 car would remain a Chevrolet powered entry or move to Ford or Toyota power. There’s been rumors of the team changing manufacturer alliances.

After practice, Martin Truex Jr. confirmed that he’d be returning to his No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023. This news didn’t specify the number of years rather than the fact that Truex Jr. is indeed returning.

So, what’s left?

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Mars Crunchy Cookie Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The top domino resides at JGR with Kyle Busch. They lost sponsorship for his No. 18 Toyota and still don’t have the only multi-time Cup champion in the garage today under contract for 2023 and beyond.

The next domino is at Stewart-Haas Racing for the seat of the departing Aric Almirola who will retire at seasons end. The No. 10 Ford is available for the taking with rumors of Ryan Preece being groomed to take over that ride.

Past that, there’s really not much left in terms of big teams.

Hendrick Motorsports signed Chase Elliott on the morning of the Daytona 500 to a new deal and then signed William Byron a month ago. Both Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman signed new contracts last season.

Team Penske isn’t going to expand to 4 cars and has Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Austin Cindric locked up for the future. They also have Harrison Burton assigned to the Wood Brothers again so they’re set.

SHR has Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe signed and I don’t see Cole Custer moving on leaving the 10 car as the top ride outside of the 18 at JGR.

23XI Racing has Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace signed for 2023 while Trackhouse is close to announcing Daniel Suarez on a new contract which will lock in him and Ross Chastain for the future.

Richard Childress Racing isn’t going to cut ties with his own grandson (Austin Dillon) and without a top ride available, I don’t see Tyler Reddick leaving.

That leaves the next batch down to Spire’s 2nd entry, Kaulig’s 2nd entry and if Niece Motorsports or The Money Team can secure charters.

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