AVONDALE, AZ — We may be closing the chapter of the 2022 season, but that’s not stopping the 2023 train from already rolling. That pretty much got started back in June with the announcements that Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be staying put with their respective teams.
However, it got wild a few weeks later and just downright bizarre this weekend. From Tyler Reddick leaving RCR for 23XI Racing but not initially for until 2024, to Kyle Busch leaving JGR to replace Reddick at RCR, to Kurt Busch stepping out of his full-time ride to allow Reddick to come over early to now Jimmie Johnson taking an ownership stake in Petty GMS Racing and you get a crazy last few months of driver and ownership movement in NASCAR.
So where does this leave Silly Season. Most of the Cup Series rides are now filled. The main thing left is Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing to announce Ty Gibbs as Kyle Busch’s replacement for the 18 car but outside of that, they’ll have Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell back with JGR and Bubba Wallace/Tyler Reddick with 23XI.
Ford is pretty much set too.
Penske signed Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano to multi-year extensions and has Austin Cindric on a rookie deal. Harrison Burton is back with the Wood Brothers while SHR has the same 4 car lineup with Aric Almirola announcing that he’ll forego retirement and come back on a new multi-year deal.
For Chevy, HMS is set with their current 4 car lineup with signing Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron to extensions already. Trackhouse has both drivers back with Daniel Suarez on a one-year contract extension. Kaulig has Justin Haley back and now AJ Allmendinger full-time in the 2nd car. RCR has Reddick and Busch. JTG has Ricky Stenhouse Jr. back. Petty GMS signed Erik Jones to an extension as well as bringing Noah Gragson up to drive the 42 and now adds Jimmie Johnson to a part owner-part 3rd driver in a non chartered car.
The only other rides for 2023 open are with smaller teams like Front Row Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing and Live Fast Motorsports.
- Hendrick Motorsports (4) – Larson, Elliott, Byron and Bowman. Each are back in 2023.
- Trackhouse Racing (2) – Ross Chastain is back while Daniel Suarez signed a one-year extension.
- Richard Childress Racing (2) – Austin Dillon is back in the 3 while Kyle Busch moves over to replace Tyler Reddick in the 8.
- Petty GMS Racing (2) – Erik Jones is back while Noah Gragson moves up from the Xfinity Series to run the 42.
- Kaulig Racing (2) – Justin Haley is back in 2023 with AJ Allmendinger taking the 2nd car on a full time ride next season too.
- Spire Motorsports (2) – Corey LaJoie is back in the 7 while Ty Dillon drives the 77 now.
- JTG Daugherty Racing (1) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is back for 2023
- Stewart-Haas Racing (4) – All 4 drivers are back in 2023 but 3 of them are free agents for the season after.
- Team Penske (3) – All 3 drivers are back in 2023 with 2 of them signing extensions this season.
- RFK Racing (2) – Both drivers are back in 2023.
- Rick Ware Racing (2) – 2 seats are open as of now for 2023.
- Front Row Motorsports (2) – Both rides are open for 2023.
- Live Fast Motorsports (1) – Their seat is open for now in 2023.
- Wood Brothers (1) – Harrison Burton is back in 2023.
- Joe Gibbs Racing (4) – Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. are each back in 2023. Truex just signed a one-year extension this past June. Rumor is Ty Gibbs will graduate up to the 18.
- 23XI Racing (2) – Bubba Wallace signed a new extension this past August while Tyler Reddick moves over a year early to replace Kurt Busch in the 45.
The focus is now pretty much on 2024 though which could be as wild if not more crazy that this past year’s. Suarez, Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman are each free agents at the end of next season. Suarez is betting on himself while Truex and Harvick could step out the door in a swan song season leaving rides with JGR and SHR open.
By all accounts, SHR is bracing themselves for life after Harvick starting in 2024. There’s even a possibility that Almirola walks after next season too leaving them with both Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer. Ryan Preece will play into the mix and it will be interesting if Hailie Deegan will too.
Sheldon Creed’s news of him returning to RCR in 2023 is just the latest of a slew of announcements lately in this series too. JR Motorsports has also confirmed their plans a few weeks ago. Sam Mayer (No. 1 Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (No. 7 Chevrolet) and Josh Berry (No. 8 Chevrolet) will each return while Brandon Jones (No. 9 Chevrolet) shifts from Joe Gibbs Racing to replace the departing Noah Gragson who advances up to the Cup Series with Petty GMS Racing.
Kaulig Racing will have Landon Cassill (No. 10 Chevrolet) and 2021 series champion Daniel Hemric (No. 11 Chevrolet) back while in a similar situation to JRM, Chandler Smith (No. 16 Chevrolet) moves up to replace AJ Allmendinger as Allmendinger is moving up to the Cup seat with the organization.
Parker Kligerman was just announced as the full-time driver in the No. 48 Chevrolet for Big Machine Racing on Saturday. On Tuesday, it was announced that Garrett Smithley will drive the No. 78 Chevrolet for BJ McLeod Motorsports.
Joe Gibbs Racing will have their announcements after the season concludes this weekend. It’s expected Ty Gibbs will move up to replace Kyle Busch on the Cup side leaving both full-time rides open for next season. John Hunter Nemechek is needing a spot to land and by all accounts, this makes the most logical sense here.
There’s no word yet on Stewart-Haas’ situation but Hailie Deegan has to be in the mix for something. Whether it’s SHR or SS-Green Light, Ford wants to move her up to the Xfinity Series and they’ll somehow make it happen.
Could Penske make a return?
“We never say never,” Walt Czarnecki of Team Penske said. “I assure you it’s something we will examine in the off-season as we leave Phoenix, as we make our plans for 2023.”
Outside of that, the other announcements would be if Austin Hill returns full-time for the 21 seat at RCR. He’s expected to be doing so. The rest are for midfield teams.
There’s still a lot left to be announced here but two of the three manufacturers have already set their flagship teams. Last week it was unveiled that David Gilliland Racing will move from Ford to Toyota power and get rebranded to TRICON Garage. Tanner Gray, Taylor Gray and Corey Heim will be their three full-time drivers. Taylor Gray however will miss the first few races as he’s not old enough until next spring to race on bigger tracks. They’ll have a 4th part-time truck.
The reason for the switch was due to Kyle Busch Motorsports leaving Toyota. They announced on Friday their plans as they’re the new flagship team for Chevrolet and will have a two truck operation with Chase Purdy in the full-time No. 4 Chevy and Jack Wood among a cast of drivers in the No. 51 Chevy.
Front Row is back with Zane Smith while GMS Racing will have Grant Enfinger back in one Truck and Daniel Dye as a rookie in another. But, with Jack Wood not returning, a third seat is open there. Rackley WAR should have Matt DiBenedetto back in his seat. We also know Hattori Racing Enterprises will have two seats open. ThorSport lately has been announcing their plans closer to Januray-February.