Stewart-Haas Racing has a murky future in the NASCAR Cup Series due to numerous reasons but the upcoming retirement of Kevin Harvick certainly tops the list. Harvick, 47, announced he will step away from full-time racing in NASCAR and join the FOX Sports booth in 2024.
The 47-year-old has been the most consistent driver at Stewart-Haas Racing as he holds the most top-10 finishes and best average finishing position during the 2023 NASCAR season. Harvick currently sits third in the point standings.
The next closest driver is Chase Briscoe in 16th place. Due to their drivers’ struggles, Stewart-Haas Racing needs to hit on its replacement for Harvick, and with the latest reports from around NASCAR, it seems like that might be the case.
Stewart-Haas Racing has a ‘top candidate’ to join the NASCAR Cup Series program in 2024
Harvick’s presence will certainly be missed by those in Stewart-Haas Racing and this is why the organization needs to hit on its next driver of the No. 4 car. It is pretty obvious when looking at the point standings.
With Harvick in third place, Briscoe sits in 16th place, Aric Almirola in 25th place, and Ryan Preece in 28th place. In fact, Preece is one of four drivers without a top-10 finish through 11 races during the 2023 season.
Stewart-Haas Racing has Briscoe as its centerpiece moving forward but Almirola is going to retire sooner rather than later after going back on his decision in 2022. Meanwhile, Preece needs to have a jump in performance and hasn’t shown to be an A-level driver.
That is exactly what the organization needs in its replacement for Harvick. The No. 4 car has been driven by the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion for almost a decade and he represents the team’s best shot at winning races each weekend.
With that in mind, the organization has been linked to a driver that could eventually grow into a race-winning competitor on Sunday afternoons moving forward. It might be unexpected due to the current manufacturer of the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver.
According to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry is a “top candidate” to join Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series starting in 2024. Berry, 32, currently drives the No. 8 car in the Xfinity Series and made the Championship 4 last season.
The 32-year-old driver is under the Chevrolet umbrella but that apparently hasn’t stopped Stewart-Haas Racing from pursuing his services. Berry has been really impressive in his replacement starts with Hendrick Motorsports due to Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman’s injuries.
The Xfinity Series driver has one top-5 finish, three top-10 finishes, and a 16.0 average finishing position in six races. Berry’s best finish came at Richmond Raceway when he finished in second place to teammate Kyle Larson.
Right now, Berry is not considered to be an elite upcoming driver but he is certainly capable of winning races at NASCAR’s top level. He has won five Xfinity Series races since the start of the 2023 season with his performance with Hendrick Motorsports putting him on the board.
It would be a very solid addition to Stewart-Haas Racing as Berry’s feel-good story could take another positive turn. He may not be the most well-known driver but there have been plenty of signs that he is ready for the next step.
Pockrass did say Stewart-Haas Racing is looking for at least one driver to join the organization’s Cup Series program in 2024. If Berry does find himself in the No. 4 car, who else could join the team? Keep reading to find out three ideal candidates for Stewart-Haas Racing below!
3 ideal drivers for Stewart-Haas Racing to sign for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season
There are several really solid candidates for Stewart-Haas Racing to hire for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season and beyond. The first one is a really talented driver that simply needs a shot with good equipment.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. reminded the sport that he is still a very talented driver after winning the 2023 Daytona 500. Stenhouse Jr., 35, drives the No. 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing and has a multi-year contract but it has been known that drivers can be bought out.
The 35-year-old driver has one win, two top-5 finishes, and four top-10 finishes through nine races during the 2023 season and is showing NASCAR why he deserves a shot in better equipment. Stewart-Haas Racing could be that team and it would be a great partnership.
Zane Smith is a hot commodity for Ford and he will have a full-time ride in the Cup Series very soon. Smith, 23, is the defending NASCAR Truck Series champion and currently has two wins during the 2023 season.
The 23-year-old driver would be a perfect driver for Front Row Motorsports; however, his talent and potential should allow him to join a more competitive organization. Smith would be another good fit which leads us to the boldest candidate yet.
Todd Gilliland currently drives the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports in the Cup Series and he would be a brilliant option for Stewart-Haas Racing. Gilliland, 22, sits 24th in the point standings above the likes of Erik Jones, A.J. Allmendinger, and more.
The 22-year-old driver should be looking to move out of Front Row Motorsports and to be a better team starting next year. The idea of joining an organization with a winning culture could make Gilliland flourish.
Stewart-Haas Racing will have plenty of decisions to make for the 2024 season with Harvick retiring and possibly more openings. However, the organization should be really attractive to drivers looking for a shot in solid equipment.