Stewart-Haas Racing will need to fill the No. 4 car for the 2024 season after Kevin Harvick announced his intentions to retire from full-time racing in the NASCAR Cup Series on January 12, 2023.
Harvick, 47, will transition to the FOX Sports booth as a full-time analyst next to Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer next year. This is not a surprise as the network did not hire anyone for the third seat on a full-time basis been waiting for him to retire.
After being linked to a former Daytona 500 champion during the NASCAR silly season process last season, the organization has now been connected to a former Cup Series driver that many would not expect.
Related: Kevin Harvick talks about picking a driver for the No. 4 car in 2024
Stewart-Haas Racing linked to talented Toyota driver, could be candidate to replace Kevin Harvick
When people read that Stewart-Haas Racing is being connected to a former Cup Series driver, they would automatically think of Cole Custer as he now drives the No. 00 car for the team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
However, the driver being linked to Stewart-Haas Racing is a talented Toyota driver who is working their way back up the ladder after taking a major gamble on themselves at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
According to The Athletic’s Jordan Bianchi, Stewart-Haas Racing has no clear favorite for the No. 4 car but John Hunter Nemechek, a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, is one of the names he has heard the most as a possible replacement.
Nemechek, 25, spent one season in the NASCAR Cup Series with Front Row Motorsports and performed well with three top-10 finishes. He was one of many drivers who entered NASCAR’s top level during COVID-19 with no practice or qualifying.
Following the 2020 season, Nemechek moved to Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Truck Series and won seven times over the next two seasons before landing the No. 20 Xfinity car for Joe Gibbs Racing.
The 25-year-old driver bet on himself and seems to be in a good position for the NASCAR silly season process this year. Nemechek could end up replacing Martin Truex Jr. if he retires from the Cup Series but if not, he should have other options on the table, such as Stewart-Haas Racing.
Nemechek is a Toyota Racing driver so it would likely need to be a good opportunity to pull him away from the fleet. This would be one of Stewart-Haas Racing’s best possible hires as Nemechek is primed for a massive year in the Xfinity Series.
There will be plenty of rumors flying around in the coming months as the No. 4 car for Stewart-Haas Racing is the top ride available for next season with several free agents already off the board.