NASCAR rolls into the summer months and as the temperature gets warmer, the rumors get hotter. No one has signed for next season yet, but names like Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. still have no clarity.
Let’s dive into the official silly season predictions for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Live Fast Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing
- Live Fast Motorsports: No. 78 (Multiple Drivers)
- Rick Ware Racing: No. 15 Ryan Preece (PT), No. 51 Cody Ware
Live Fast Motorsports will be in its third year of existence in NASCAR next season and unless team owners B.J. McLeod and Matt Tifft can find someone with sponsorship, this seat will be split among drivers.
Josh Williams will get tabbed for more races while McLeod takes the majority of the other ones. Williams moved over to B.J. McLeod Motorsports for an opportunity to race on Sunday and that will happen in 2023.
Meanwhile, Rick Ware Racing sells its No. 15 charter to an unidentified team. The No. 15 car will finish in the bottom three of the owner points this year which means it could get repossessed after the 2023 season.
Instead of running that risk, Rick Ware sells it and runs a second open car on a part-time basis for, surprisingly, Ryan Preece. The driver will get more starts than this season for Rick Ware Racing.
Cody Ware stays in the No. 51 car as they fully focus on his development as a driver. It works out well and they should reap the benefits of the move going forward.
Spire Motorsports and Kaulig Racing
- Spire Motorsports: No. 7 Corey LaJoie, No. 77 (Multiple Drivers) (PT)
- Kaulig Racing: No. 16 Daniel Hemric, No. 31 Justin Haley, No. 61 (Multiple Drivers)
Spire Motorsports is once again involved in the charter market as they sell the No. 77 charter to an unidentified team. However, the No. 77 car still runs on a part-time basis during the 2023 season.
It is not a shocking move considering their silly season involvement last season, but there was an offer too good to pass up from a financial standpoint.
Corey LaJoie returns to the No. 7 car as his option is picked up for next season. LaJoie enters a contract year looking to find his rhythm after a rough start with the NextGen car.
Kaulig Racing might not be having the season they expected in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but Daniel Hemric has impressed enough in the No. 16 Cup car to where he lands the ride for next season.
Hemric returns to the NASCAR Cup Series and will look to develop more consistency this time around. While the Xfinity Series season has been disappointing, this made too much sense for Kaulig.
Kaulig Racing also make the move and buys a third charter from Spire Motorsports as they fully establish themselves in the Cup Series. They run a third (No. 61) car full-time and split it among Josh Bilicki and its Xfinity Series drivers.
Justin Haley obviously returns to the No. 31 car as he has a multi-year contract with the team after moving up for the 2022 season.
It’s another big step for Kaulig as they now have a three-car Cup Series team. They don’t need any expansion until they truly start to compete for victories in the future.
Hendrick Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing
- Hendrick Motorsports: No. 5 Kyle Larson, No. 9 Chase Elliott, No. 24 William Byron, No. 48 Alex Bowman
- JTG Daugherty Racing: No. 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
There is no change among the Hendrick Motorsports lineup next season, as expected. Hendrick’s lineup is set for the foreseeable future and there should be no moves expected.
Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and William Byron feel like Hendrick lifers while Alex Bowman is set for a long time with his improved performance and sponsorship from Ally Racing.
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JTG Daugherty offers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a lucrative multi-year contract for a small team and locks up the driver of the No. 47 car for the foreseeable future.
Stenhouse saw a tremendous amount of back luck to start the 2022 NASCAR season before placing the vehicle in the top-10 finishing positions in four straight events.
There were other options for Stenhouse, such as Stewart-Haas Racing, but both parties figure out a way to bring him back and further improve performance with the NextGen car.
Team Penske, Wood Brothers Racing, Front Row Motorsports
- Team Penske: No. 2 Austin Cindric, No. 12 Ryan Blaney, No. 22 Joey Logano
- Wood Brothers Racing: No. 21 Harrison Burton
- Front Row Motorsports: No. 34 Michael McDowell, No. 38 Todd Gilliland
Team Penske has its lineup set for the foreseeable future. Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney represent the future while Joey Logano is most likely signing a contract extension soon.
Plus, with no Xfinity Series team, there are no clear obvious drivers to replace a current driver or to buy a charter. Expect this lineup to be stable for a long time.
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Wood Brothers Racing brought over Harrison Burton for the future and that will remain in place for the 2023 season. Burton will only improve and there should be no threat to his seat.
The organization is a part of the Team Penske fleet and all drivers are set for the foreseeable future. They are one of the most stable organizations in NASCAR.
Meanwhile, Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland are also set to return to their respective rides next season. McDowell signs another one-year deal in the midst of an amazing season.
Gilliland already has a multi-year deal with the organization and that is going to remain in place after an impressive start of the year. Both drivers have been impressive in their own ways this season.
Richard Childress Racing, Petty GMS Motorsports, and Trackhouse Racing
- Richard Childress Racing: No. 3 Austin Dillon, No. 8 Tyler Reddick
- Petty GMS Motorsports: No. 42 Ty Dillon, No. 43 Erik Jones
- Trackhouse Racing: No. 1 Ross Chastain, No. 91 (Multiple Drivers) (PT), No. 99 Daniel Suarez
Richard Childress Racing brings back Austin Dillon for another season as he remains a stable veteran in a two-car organization that needs it with Tyler Reddick’s future in question.
Dillon has been in the No. 3 car since the 2014 season with no end in sight. Meanwhile, Tyler Reddick returns to the No. 8 car but it’s not without drama.
Reddick will be courted by other teams but Richard Childress keeps him under contract and won’t allow him to be bought out by another organization.
It’s almost a guarantee that Reddick leaves at the conclusion of the 2023 NASCAR season in what’s expected to be a very active silly season. There will be options available for the young driver.
Petty GMS Motorsports brings back both Ty Dillon and Erik Jones next season. Most notably, Jones signs a multi-year contract and finally lands security in his career.
Dillon needs to put up better performances but he is safe due to his ability to take care of the car. There should be no reason why Dillon isn’t safe for the 2023 season.
Ross Chastain returns to Trackhouse Racing after signing a multi-year contract with the organization last year. Chastain will be with the organization for the foreseeable future.
However, Daniel Suarez’s future is not as certain. Suarez returns on a two-year deal but will need to start putting results on the board after being outrun by his teammate during the 2022 season.
The third (No. 91) car will run a few more races with some big names. Kimi Räikkönen will make another start while Valentino Rossi makes two starts on road courses during the 2023 season.
Most notably, Jimmie Johnson will run the No. 91 car at the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis Oval. This marks Johnson’s first return to NASCAR since the end of the 2020 season.
Stewart-Haas Racing and RFK Racing
- Stewart-Haas Racing: No. 4 Kevin Harvick, No. 10 Noah Gragson, No. 14 Chase Briscoe, No. 41 Cole Custer
- RFK Racing: No. 6 Brad Keselowski, No. 17 Chris Buescher
Stewart-Haas Racing has at least one opening to fill as Aric Almirola is retiring at the conclusion of the 2022 NASCAR season. Who will replace Almirola in the No. 10 car?
Noah Gragson takes the No. 10 car for the foreseeable future and brings sponsorship as Smithfield leaves the organization with Almirola. Many people have Ryan Preece tabbed for a Stewart-Haas Racing seat, but not yet.
Gragson moves over to Ford, which is not what Chevrolet would like, but it presents the best opportunity for his future. The JR Motorsports driver is currently performing really well in the Xfinity Series.
Kevin Harvick will return to the No. 4 car but it will be his final season. Harvick will retire with Martin Truex Jr. as two champions leave the sport at the same time. Then, Preece will most likely take the No. 4 car in 2024.
Chase Briscoe stays in the No. 14 car as he represents the future of Stewart-Haas Racing. Briscoe should be with the organization for the foreseeable future.
Cole Custer has struggled in his Cup Series career but he gets one more shot to turn it around during the 2023 NASCAR season. Custer needs to improve or it feels likely that he will be demoted.
RFK Racing is in a stable spot when it comes to silly season. Team owner Brad Keselowski will continue driving the No. 6 car while Chris Buescher returns to the No. 17 car for another season.
The organization wanted Buescher back in the fold and while Zane Smith impressed at Gateway, they won’t replace Buescher or expand to another vehicle until they start to become more competitive.
Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing predictions
- Joe Gibbs Racing: No. 11 Denny Hamlin, No. 18 Kyle Busch, No. 19 Martin Truex Jr., No. 20 Christopher Bell
- 23XI Racing: No. 23 Bubba Wallace, No. 45 Kurt Busch
Joe Gibbs Racing is the big question mark of silly season. Kyle Busch has been public about his future while Martin Truex Jr. is nearing a decision on retirement.
First off, Denny Hamlin will return to the No. 11 car as he has a contract through at least the 2023 season and Christopher Bell signs a multi-year contract to lock up the organization’s future.
Busch will return to the No. 18 car on a one-year contract as they pick up a major sponsor for the vehicle. It’s not a surprise as people view it as unacceptable if Busch does not return.
Despite the drama, Truex will return to the No. 19 car for one final year before retirement following the 2023 NASCAR season. It is a good scenario for Joe Gibbs Racing to retain all four drivers.
23XI Racing is pretty cut and dry. Bubba Wallace will return to the No. 23 car while Kurt Busch stays in the No. 45 car after signing a multi-year deal last season.
There will be no further expansion for 23XI Racing, at least for the 2023 season. While it’s not because they don’t want to expand, staying at two teams won’t hurt development.
The Money Team Racing
- The Money Team Racing: No. 50 Kaz Grala
The major surprise of the 2023 NASCAR season will be The Money Team Racing buying a charter from Rick Ware Racing and fielding Kaz Grala as the full-time driver.
Grala will bring some more sponsorship and finally land a full-time ride. The Money Team Racing was vocal about going full-time for the 2023 season and they end it making it happen.
While there are other names in the running for the ride due to sponsorship, Grala brings familiarity and should be in a steady spot for the future.
Concluding thoughts on NASCAR Cup Series silly season
The 2022 NASCAR silly season might not be as active as past years, but it’s setting up for next season to have what’s expected to be very crazy and fluid movement.
Two Cup Series champions retire and many contracts are up after the 2023 season. There will also be more Xfinity Series drivers ready to move up to NASCAR’s top level.
While this year is most likely going to be tame, it could be more active if there is an unexpected retirement or Truex decides to hang it up at season’s end.