After a busy last couple of days in the NASCAR front in terms of driver announcements, what’s now left?
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the long-awaited news that Ty Gibbs would replace Kyle Busch with Joe Gibbs Racing on the Cup level has now been confirmed. However, he’ll drive the No. 54 instead of the No. 18. On Wednesday morning, it was confirmed that Ryan Preece would replace Cole Custer in the No. 41 Ford in the Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing and that Custer will move down to a second seat in Xfinity Series within the team.
With that said, what’s left?
Most of the Cup Series rides are now filled. Toyota is secured with Gibbs, 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 3 of their 4 drivers back with Ryan Preece the new kid on the block replacing Cole Custer in the 41.
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) – 3 of the 4 drivers from last year are back. Custer moves down to the Xfinity Series while Preece moves up.
- 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. Ty Gibbs moves up to the 4th car.
- 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.
SHR will expand back to a two car team in this series with Riley Herbst back for a third straight season and Cole Custer moving down to join him.
Other announcements are Sheldon Creed’s news of him returning to RCR in 2023 that was announced in Phoenix. 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 in Phoenix too. A week after Phoenix, it was announced that Garrett Smithley will drive the No. 78 Chevrolet for BJ McLeod Motorsports.
What about Hailie Deegan who has Ford ties and needing a place to move up to?
Could Penske make a return and help alleviate this Ford lack of rides problem?
“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.”
Her most likely destination is with SS-Green Light.
Joe Gibbs Racing should have their announcements coming soon. How many cars is up in the air however. John Hunter Nemechek is needing a spot to land and by all accounts, this makes the most logical sense here. Maybe Sammy Smith is in the second car.
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.