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NASCAR’s latest silly season landscape in Nashville

NASCAR's silly season is heating up with Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. returning next year. Let's dive into the domino effect from the announcements.

Austin Konenski
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NASCAR’s silly season heated up in Nashville after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daugherty Racing agreed on a multi-year deal while Martin Truex Jr. announced his intentions to return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023.

How does this change the silly season landscape and what should be expected next?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s impact on NASCAR’s silly season

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. signed a multi-year extension with JTG Daugherty Racing, which has been expected for a couple of weeks now. It was exactly what was predicted in our silly season article.

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Many people thought Stenhouse would have been a good fit in the No. 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing, but an extension with JTG Daugherty to keep building on what they have is a positive occurrence too.

Overall, it likely doesn’t have much of an impact. If Stenhouse left, however, it would have opened the No. 47 car to a rookie or driver with sponsorship.

It doesn’t seem like the rookie class for the 2023 season will be that massive. Outside of Noah Gragson, Zane Smith, and maybe Josh Berry, it seems unlikely that any other major drivers make the jump full-time yet.

Gragson and Berry have been public in their desire to go to NASCAR’s top level while Smith impressed when replacing Chris Buescher at Gateway and has been elite in NASCAR Truck Series this season.

Could Gragson go full-time with Kaulig Racing or be picked up by another organization? Would Berry willingly jump to Spire Motorsports in the No. 77 car if the car is given the opportunity of a full-time driver?

Gragson seems inevitable to make the move soon, but Berry’s dreams could be on the back burners for now while he continues to make a name for himself with JR Motorsports.

The domino effect of Martin Truex Jr. returning in 2023

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As predicted in our NASCAR Cup Series silly season predictions, Martin Truex Jr. has announced that he will return to the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023.

Truex has not been having with the NextGen car but the competitive fire to race is still running through his veins. It’s also the best possible option for Joe Gibbs Racing.

It seems inevitable that NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs will be moving to the Cup Series for the 2024 season. While Truex didn’t announce if the 2023 season will be his last year, it prevents a massive headache.

If Truex would have retired, the organization would have needed a replacement in the No. 19 car and many within the organization have stated that Gibbs should stay in the Xfinity Series for two seasons.

This could have made it more difficult because would have Joe Gibbs Racing replaced that driver with Gibbs, even if the driver had an incredible season?

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Luckily, it seems pretty clear what the obvious next step is for the organization. Whenever Truex, Kyle Busch, or Denny Hamlin decide to leave, Gibbs will fill into the open car.

Joe Gibbs is high on Christopher Bell, who they believe is on the verge of winning races. Therefore, it appears Bell and Gibbs are the future of the organization that could be here as soon as the 2024 season.

As for what Truex returning means for the silly season market, it seems to have the feel of what was expected two weeks ago. If Truex returns, it will be quieter than previous seasons with craziness next year.

Related: NASCAR Cup Series silly season predictions

Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, and Trackhouse Racing are arguably NASCAR’s top organizations and all of them are expected to retain their driver lineups next season.

There won’t be much movement in the top echelon of teams, but Stewart-Haas Racing still needs to find a replacement due to Aric Almirola retiring from the No. 10 car at the conclusion of the season.

The prediction in our article has Noah Gragson in the ride next season, but that doesn’t mean that he will for sure be in the No. 10 car. Ryan Preece seems like the easy fill-in driver if Stewart-Haas Racing goes the safe route.

It seems like NASCAR’s silly season will be quieter, but it doesn’t mean nothing will happen. The movement will happen and it usually brings us one major surprise each time around.