Kyle Larson won’t even test free agency. Why would he? He’s in a good place that can win championships for years to come. So, despite being a free agent at the end of the 2023 season, he elected to sign a new deal early. That announcement took place on Friday. Larson is locked into a new contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2026 season.
So, what’s left?
Kyle Busch we know is going to the No. 8 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing in 2023 and will be replacing Tyler Reddick in that seat. RCR maintains that they will keep Reddick for next season but acquire a 3rd charter and put him in a 3rd car while doing so. 23XI Racing is firm that they don’t want to expand to a three car team next season because it’s too late to get a charter and do so. The 45 seat is Kurt Busch’s so long as he wants it and the 23 ride is Bubba Wallace’s. Reddick will come over in 2024 into the 45 seat or at that point they’d get a 3rd car. Right now, they don’t need it.
As far as what else is to announce? It’s down to the 18 seat and more than likely…2024.
Hendrick Motorsports has all 4 drivers signed with 3 of the 4 already reaching long-term deals this season. Chase Elliott signed a new contract on the eve of the 2022 season while William Byron inked a new deal not too long ago too.
Team Penske has also signed 2 of their 3 drivers to long terms deals within the last month and are going to obviously bring back rookie Austin Cindric for 2023 as well. I also don’t see Harrison Burton being one-year experiment so expect Penske and the Wood Brothers to remain the same next year as this.
Stewart-Haas Racing lured Aric Almirola to skip retirement and to sign a multi-year deal to remain in the seat of the No. 10 Ford. Smithfield also will stay. The other 3 drivers are back for 2023 too.
Joe Gibbs Racing has Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell already under contract, they signed Martin Truex Jr. to a one-year deal back at the end of June and now with Busch leaving, have 1 seat left. All indications are that Ty Gibbs will land there.
23XI Racing has Bubba Wallace signed long term as they just signed a deal a month ago and a seat for Kurt Busch so long as he wants it.
Petty GMS Racing signed Erik Jones to an extension and Noah Gragson to a multi-year deal recently too.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daugherty Racing signed a deal back in June.
Trackhouse has both drivers locked in for 2023. RFK Racing does as well.
Front Row Motorsports has both cars open but I don’t see why either drivers isn’t retained. Kaulig Racing has Justin Haley back and the other seat open. Then it’s down to Rick Ware Racing and Live Fast Motorsports.
However, where this gets interesting is how everything is going to play out for 2024.
We know Reddick is going to 23XI Racing. Does Kurt Busch return?
Busch leads a large group of a talented free agent pool. He, Harvick, Truex Jr., Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez are on it. How does this all play out?
Does Busch retire or does 23XI have to find a 3rd charter? Does Truex Jr. come back or does JGR need to find a 4th driver? Does Harvick comeback or is SHR eyeing a new driver? Ryan Preece would make the most sense there.
Can Suarez back up 2022 with a better 2023? He can’t regress. Does HMS think Bowman has shown enough for another contract or do they make a run at a 4th driver?
That’s where this all gets interesting. One could make a case that Busch, Harvick and Truex Jr. all retire together.
While 2023 has a few pieces to shore up, 2024 is already starting…