NASCAR Cup driver/team changes for the 2024 season

With the official start of 2024 season just over a month away, let's take a look at the driver and team changes across the NASCAR Cup Series grid.

Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Rheem Ford Mustang,Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Smithfield Ford Mustang

While top teams such as Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing remain unchanged, there's still plenty to talk about throughout the 2024 field.

Stewart-Haas Racing replaces outgoing veterans

The entire organization went winless in 2023 and at season's end, SHR lost tis two most experienced drivers. 2014 Cup champion Kevin Harvick is stepping out of the driver's seat and into the booth this year. Aric Almirola will now compete part-time with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

The team already has two young drivers in Chase Briscoe and Josh Berry, but have added two more for 2024. Josh Berry joins the lineup, replacing Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Ford Mustang. Berry has just 12 Cup starts, including a stint last year where he subbed for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He finished as high as second at Richmond Raceway. His career includes five Xfinity wins, and tremendous success in Late Model cars.

Photo by: Stewart-Haas Racing

Almirola's No. 10 Ford Mustang will be taken over by Noah Gragson, who struggled through a tumultuous 2023 season at Legacy Motor Club. His rookie campaign ended abruptly when he was suspended after liking a meme that mocked the murder of George Floyd. Since then, Gragson has successfully completed sensitivity training and will return in 2024, now with SHR. A championship runner-up in the Truck Series in 2018 and the Xfinity Series in 2022, Gragson has 15 wins between the lower two divisions. Although he has yet to complete a full season at the Cup level, he has 39 total starts with a best finish of fifth. 

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Spire Motorsports adds two rookie drivers

Berry is only 1/3rd of the story when looking at the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series rookie class. The rapidly-expanding Spire Motorsports will add two rookies to its lineup, who will compete alongside teammate Corey LaJoie.

The No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro, which was driven by Ty Dillon, will now be piloted by Carson Hocevar. The 20-year-old will be the youngest full-time driver on the grid. Although he's faced criticism for several on-track incidents, most notably in the Truck Series title-decider while battling for the championship, Hocevar has been fairly impressive in only a handful of Cup starts. He made nine appearances in the premier division last year, finishing as high as eleventh at Bristol while driving for Legacy Motor Club.

Zane Smith, Front Row Motorsports, Michael Roberts Construction Ford F-150

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Zane Smith, Front Row Motorsports, Michael Roberts Construction Ford F-150

And then there's 2022 NASCAR Truck Series champion Zane Smith, whose situation is an interesting one. He will drive the No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro for Spire, but is under contract with Trackhouse Racing. Spire is adding a third car for 2024 after acquiring a charter from Live Fast Motorsports. The rising star has nine Cup starts, finishing as high as tenth in the 2023 Coke 600 while driving for Front Row Motorsports. 

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Hemric and Nemechek get another shot at Cup

It's a story of second chances for both Daniel Hemric and John-Hunter Nemechek in 2024. 

Hemric had the opportunity to compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019, driving the No. 8 for Richard Childress Racing. He ended the year 25th in the championship standings, scoring 530 points while teammate Austin Dillon scored 700. He earned just one top-five and two top-tens. Since then, both Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch have won multiple Cup races in that car. 

Hemric stepped back down to the Xfinity Series and in 2021, he won the title with Joe Gibbs Racing in a dramatic photo finish. He spent the following two years with Kaulig Racing, who have now promoted him to Cup in 2024, taking over the No. 31 Chevrolet vacated by Justin Haley. Haley will now drive for Rick Ware Racing in 2024.

Daniel Hemric, Kaulig Racing, Cirkul Chevrolet Camaro, Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing, Campers Inn RV Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Daniel Hemric, Kaulig Racing, Cirkul Chevrolet Camaro, Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing, Campers Inn RV Chevrolet Camaro

Nemechek ran full-time as a Cup Series driver in 2020. He scored zero top-fives and three-tops, ending the year 27th in the championship standings, and also lagged behind his teammate. After that, he essentially repeated the NASCAR ladder. He competed full-time in the Truck Series over the course of 2021 and 2022, also running a partial Xfinity schedule. He won seven Truck races with Kyle Busch Motorsports and was top-five in points both seasons. In 2023, he won a series-leading seven Xfinity races with Joe Gibbs Racing and ended the year fourth in the final standings.

In 2024, he will also make his Cup return, driving for Legacy Motor Club as a teammate to Erik Jones. The team, co-owned by Jimmie Johnson, is making the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for the upcoming season. Nemechek will be driving the No. 42 car, which was Gragson's until his midseason suspension. Afterwards, LMC used a variety of drivers to finish out the year.

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Shane van Gisbergen's big NASCAR move

The three-time Supercars champion will have a steep learning curve as he transitions to stock car racing in 2024. Although he’s already a proven Cup winner, taking victory on debut at the Chicago Street Course, his experience on ovals is very limited. He made a single oval start in the Truck Series last year, finishing 19th. In 2024, he will run at least 41 races. 

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Owlpine Group

Shane van Gisbergen, Trackhouse Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Along with the entire NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule (33 races) with Kaulig Racing, he will run the ARCA season-opener at Daytona with the Pinnacle Racing Group, as well as seven Cup starts with Trackhouse. Those appearances will come at COTA (March 24), Talladega Superspeedway (April 21), Charlotte (May 26), Chicago (July 7), Watkins Glen (September 15), Talladega again (October 6), and Las Vegas (October 20).

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The unknowns

Rick Ware Racing Ford: There's been a lot of discussion about Kaz Grala running most if not all of the 2024 Cup season in Rick Ware Racing's second full-time entry but so far, no announcements to that effect have been forthcoming. Other names tied to that ride include Ryan Newman, Cole Custer (who will compete full-time in Xfinity again in 2024 with SHR) and Cody Ware, who was recently reinstated by NASCAR after a suspension.
Kaulig Racing No. 16 Chevrolet: While A.J. Allmendinger has returned to full-time competition in the Xfinity Series season in 2024, Kaulig still plans to run two full-time Cup teams. Allmendinger will run the No. 16 at Daytona and likely some additional races throughout the year as the teem appears set to run various drivers. Other names in the mix for appearances in the No. 16 could be Ty Dillon, Josh Williams, and perhaps Matt DiBenedetto. The team won at the Charlotte Roval during the 2023 Cup playoffs with Allmendinger taking the checkered flag.
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The part-time teams

RFK Racing No. 60 Ford: David Ragan will compete in the season-opening Daytona 500 for RFK in its part-time No. 60 Ford but other names have also emerged as possible drivers for that car if it makes additional appearances throughout the 2024 season. They include Supercars standout Cam Waters and possibly Ty Majeski.
LMC No. 84 Toyota: So far, seven-time Cup champion and team part-owner Jimmie Johnson has three announced races in the No. 84 in 2024. However, sources have told Johnson could run up at 10 races throughout the year. Sponsorship will determine Johnson's schedule for the most part but he is obviously open to running a larger schedule this year. The extended schedule could also help prepare the team to a future three-car full-time operation.
Beard Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet: The team plans to run at least the superspeedways races in 2024 and has signed Anthony Alfredo to compete in the Daytona 500 and Talladega in April. The remaining drivers have yet to be announced. There is also some discussion the schedule could be expanded beyond superspeedways depending on sponsorship and drivers involved. One other driver possibility is Austin Hill, who did some races for the team in 2023.
Live Fast Motorsports No. 78 Chevrolet: After selling their charter, LFM still plans to run select races in the upcoming season. B.J. McLeod has indicated that we will likely see the team at the superspeedway races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. They may also run some road course events, possibly with Josh Bilicki again.
Nothing to report: No plans have yet been announced for The Money Team Racing, which ran two races last year including the Daytona 500. Both starts came with IndyCar veteran Conor Daly. It's also unclear if we will see Trackhouse Racing's Project 91 entry during the 2024 season.
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