What are the shifting elements in NASCAR’s foolish season?

The homestretch of the NASCAR Cup Collection begins Sunday at Darlington Raceway, and it’s championship season for 16 drivers and groups. It’s additionally decision-making time for race groups because the enterprise aspect of the game is in full swing, locking plans into place for 2024.

Within the Cup Collection, there have been contract extensions at Joe Gibbs Racing for Martin Truex Jr. and Entrance Row Motorsports for its two drivers. Daniel Suarez is locked in at Trackhouse Racing, and the identical for Alex Bowman at Hendrick Motorsports. Each of these offers had been sorted out early within the season.

However there may be nonetheless fairly a bit to be determined inside different race outlets. Listed here are a couple of of the larger items that also have to fall into place.

Aric Almirola / Smithfield

Almirola signed a multiyear extension with Stewart-Haas Racing after initially being able to retire after the 2022 season. That call was made prematurely, as Almirola and his household realized they might steadiness work/life higher and Almirola’s workforce and sponsors needed him within the automotive. Nevertheless, as contracts go, there may be at all times the choice for issues to vary, so despite the fact that it was introduced as a multiyear deal, Almirola and Stewart-Haas are once more within the means of determining what the following yr goes to seem like.

Almirola has been saying that “it’s difficult,” and there may be extra to the story than what could be considered from the skin. A kind of components goes to be the sponsorship side as a result of, as soon as once more, the chatter is targeted on whether or not or not Smithfield goes to stay round, with the idea leaning extra towards a departure. If one of many items goes, the opposite is bound to go together with it, and shedding a close to full-year sponsor goes to be powerful on Stewart-Haas Racing.

This results in one of some different rumors on the market about Stewart-Haas, which is doubtlessly two charters being up for grabs. As of proper now that’s all they’re – rumors.

Denny Hamlin / 23XI Racing

Because the saying goes, it’s all within the particulars, and that’s the reason there may be nothing signed between Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing, in addition to the producer and alliance of 23XI Racing. Hamlin’s contract with Gibbs as the motive force of the No. 11 has been executed for fairly some time, however Hamlin isn’t placing pen to paper till the nuts and bolts of 23XI Racing’s future are decided. It’s all concerning the particulars that go into having an alliance companion and crossing the T’s and dotting I’s. It’s procedural. There is no such thing as a indication that both aspect desires to make a change, but it surely takes time to get all of the little issues located. Joe Gibbs mentioned this week, “Hopefully, there may be going to be one thing to announce right here actual fast.” Steve Lauletta, the president of 23XI Racing, mentioned in Daytona, “I don’t anticipate something altering” for subsequent yr.

Kaulig Racing

Chris Rice mentioned in July, following the announcement Justin Haley was leaving, that the purpose was to announce the way forward for the No. 31 Chevrolet by mid-August. That timeline has come and gone, however earlier than Daytona, Rice mentioned the deal is about executed and an announcement is forthcoming. And in typical Rice trend, he’s teasing that it’ll shock individuals. It was broadly believed that Austin Hill was going to be in that automotive till Hill and Richard Childress Racing introduced an extension. So now, it’s a ready sport to see what Kaulig has executed. However don’t neglect, there may be the opposite automotive, the No. 16 of AJ Allmendinger, in play. Allmendinger hasn’t mentioned a technique or one other if he’s coming again and has as an alternative put the ball in Kaulig Racing’s courtroom, saying he’ll do what they need him to do.

Allmendinger’s providing few clues about his future in Kaulig’s No.16 entry Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Pictures

Legacy Motor Membership’s No.42

Legacy Motor Membership and Noah Gragson have parted methods, which isn’t a shock after Gragson’s suspension. It was a superb transfer by each side to chop ties and begin over, which appeared to be what was going to occur on the finish of the season anyway. Legacy M.C. turns into a Toyota workforce subsequent season and like every producer, Toyota could have a say within the subsequent driver of the No. 42 automotive.

John Hunter Nemechek is on the prime of the record. No shock there. It ought to simply be a matter of getting a deal executed. Nemechek must be thought-about the highest Toyota prospect who is prepared for the Cup Collection at this level. Not solely does he have earlier Cup Collection expertise, however he’s executed precisely what he’s wanted to in recent times by going again to the Craftsman Truck Collection and now the Xfinity Collection and constructing his inventory again up by exhibiting he can win races in the precise alternative.

Shane van Gisbergen

Some of the anticipated strikes for 2024 is the anticipated arrival of van Gisbergen in whichever approach he can put the items collectively. Trackhouse Racing isn’t going to let van Gisbergen get away, but it surely doesn’t have the sources or a constitution for a 3rd full-time automotive. The assumption is that van Gisbergen goes to do some bit throughout the nationwide collection, but it surely’s nonetheless unclear what that’s going to seem like and for what workforce(s).

Zane Smith

The reigning Craftsman Truck Collection champion is able to transfer into a brand new collection. Smith has pushed a truck for 4 full seasons and he’s confirmed he deserves a shot in one other collection. The query is the place that’s going to be. Entrance Row Motorsports doesn’t wish to lose Smith, however they don’t have a Cup Collection journey after extending Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland and never with the ability to discover a constitution for a 3rd automotive. Nevertheless, they might like to maintain Smith in a Truck once more with some Cup Collection begins just like this yr. Smith is exploring his choices in all three collection, so it will come down to what’s on the market and interesting to Smith if he’s critical about taking the following step.

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