While NASCAR celebrated its 75th anniversary, the sanctioning body’s 2023 season showcased intense racing, a bit of nostalgia, and an occasional controversy – all of which fueled ticket sales and fired up social media users.

But it’s a new year and a lot has happened since Ryan Blaney first hoisted the Cup Series championship trophy in November.

It’s time to catch up, so here are 24 things to watch in 2024:

24. Hailie Deegan Gets a Chance

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After three years in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Hailie Deegan is moving to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with AM Racing. She will be the first woman to compete full time in the series since Danica Patrick in 2012.

While Deegan did not win a race during her time in the Truck Series, her lone Xfinity Series start in 2022 was impressive. She finished 13th at Las Vegas for Bobby Dotter’s SS GreenLight, giving her legions of fans hope for her future.

Others, however, are skeptical of her potential. Can she prove that she truly belongs?

23. A Talladega Tripleheader

In October, Talladega Superspeedway will host a tripleheader weekend of NASCAR playoff action. Traditionally, Talladega only has two races in a weekend, but the Xfinity Series was added to the fall event in 2023.

It all starts on Friday, Oct. 4, with the Truck Series Round of 8 opener. On Saturday, the Xfinity Series has the middle race of its Round of 12. And finally, on Sunday, the Cup Series drivers have the second superspeedway race in the playoffs.

This was the weekend that started Ryan Blaney’s run to the 2023 title, and it’s sure to offer even more exciting moments this year.

22. Stewart-Haas Racing’s New Look

This is definitely a new year for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick is in the NASCAR on FOX TV booth and Josh Berry is driving the No. 4 car. Aric Almirola is gone from the No. 10 as well. He’s been replaced by Noah Gragson, leaving the team’s Cup Series lineup relatively untested.

However, some familiar faces do return. Chase Briscoe inked a multi-year extension before 2023, and modified graduate Ryan Preece is also back.

It’s going to be something old and something new for SHR, as the team looks to rebound following a difficult season.

21. The Next Multi-Time Cup Series Champ?

Five full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers – Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney – have a single series championship.

Only 17 drivers all time have earned multiple Cup Series crowns, so which of these current drivers has the best shot at joining that exclusive club?

Owner/driver Keselowski has RFK Racing on the upswing and that team could be a contender. How about a savvy veteran like Truex Jr., or could it be a younger driver like Elliott, Larson or Blaney who adds a second championship trophy to their collection?

20. Justin Haley’s New Ride

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In a move that surprised many in the NASCAR Cup Series garage area, Justin Haley is now driving for Rick Ware Racing.

Haley goes from Kaulig Racing, where he spent his first two Cup Series seasons, to a team that recently aligned with RFK Racing. With these moves, Rick Ware Racing may be on track for its best season since becoming a series regular in 2017.

Haley scored a major upset at Daytona in 2019 and he nearly won last year at the Chicago Street Race, so it’s clear he knows how to run up front.

Will this new combination emerge as a contender?

19. Rhodes Aims for Number Three

Ben Rhodes won his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in 2023, making him one of only five series drivers to win multiple titles.

If he earns a third, Rhodes will join an even more exclusive club. Ron Hornaday Jr., Jack Sprague and Matt Crafton are the only Craftsman Truck Series drivers to win a trio of titles. Those drivers are Truck Series royalty, and Rhodes has a shot at making the group a quartet.

Rhodes will defend his title in the familiar confines of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford with Brian Ross as the crew chief.

18. A Revamped Spire Motorsports

Spire Motorsports dominated the headlines during the 2023 Silly Season. They bought a Cup Series charter, purchased Kyle Busch Motorsports, extended veteran Corey LaJoie’s contract and signed rookies Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar.

All of this combines to make Spire one of the most interesting NASCAR teams heading into the new season. The organization is growing quickly, and officials seem to have big goals.

Could this be the year Spire takes that big step forward? The team appears to have all of the pieces in place, including a big sponsor in Gainbridge, a great facility and entertaining drivers. Definitely keep an eye on this crowd.

17. Martin Truex Jr.’s Swan Song?

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Martin Truex Jr. was reportedly mulling retirement last year, but he’s back for another season in the No.19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His plans for 2025, however, remain a mystery and likely depend on performance.

Could this year be Truex Jr.’s swan song? Maybe it is and maybe it’s not. Capturing the regular-season title in 2023 shows the 43-year-old is still primed to win races and contend for championships.

A second-generation racer, Truex has fought and clawed for everything he has achieved, including taking a small team based in Denver, Colorado, to a NASCAR Cup Series championship. Don’t forget he’s also a two-time Xfinity Series champ.

16. A Tough Nut to Crack

How difficult is it to win the Daytona 500? Just ask Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace or Mark Martin, as each of them ended their Hall of Fame driving careers without winning NASCAR’s premier race.

And they’re not alone as several of today’s stars have repeatedly come up short in The Great American Race.

Kyle Busch (18 attempts) and Martin Truex Jr. (19 attempts) have gone the longest without winning the 500. Chase Elliott has not won it in eight tries, and Kyle Larson has come up short 10 times. Even Brad Keselowski (14 attempts) has not won Daytona 500 despite being one of the sport’s best superspeedway drivers.

The last three Daytona 500s have seen surprise winners, so is it time for one of these accomplished veterans to have their name added to the prestigious Harley J. Earl Trophy?

15. The Introduction of Stage 60

RFK Racing is introducing a third car to its lineup with a historic car number. The team plans to field the No. 60 Ford Mustang in a limited schedule of NASCAR Cup Series races as part of a new program known as Stage 60.

David Ragan will run the Daytona 500 in the car alongside teammates Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher. As this went to press, no remaining races or drivers had been confirmed for the Stage 60 effort.

Roush Racing formerly used the No. 60 primarily on its NASCAR Xfinity Series car with drivers such as Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Buescher winning a bunch of races during their time in the seat.

Much like Trackhouse’s Project 91, Stage 60 will be interesting to follow.

14. A Pair of Second Chances

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Second chances are rare in motorsports, but John Hunter Nemechek and Daniel Hemric will both have a second opportunity to prove themselves at stock car racing’s highest level.

Hemric moves from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series with Kaulig Racing. His last full-time Cup Series effort was a one-year stint with Richard Childress Racing in 2019.

Nemechek joins Legacy Motor Club, Toyota’s newest Cup Series team. After one Cup Series season in 2020, the second-generation driver returned to the Truck Series and has worked his way back up the ranks through the Toyota pipeline.

Keep an eye on these two as they attempt to prove they belong.

13. One More Step for William Byron

William Byron had a career year in 2023. He won six NASCAR Cup Series races and made the Championship 4 for the first time. However, he fell short of the ultimate goal.

It may be a tough year to follow, but Byron is well positioned to do so. He drives the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports and has veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle back atop the pit box.

For years, fans waited for Byron to have his breakout season and it finally happened. Now, winning the championship is his next step.

12. Legacy Motor Club to Toyota

Toyota has two additional cars this season after bringing Legacy Motor Club into the fold. The former Chevrolet team, whose ownership group includes Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty, joins Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing in bringing Toyota’s NASCAR Cup Series effort to eight cars.

Erik Jones is back in the No. 43 car with John Hunter Nemechek taking over the No. 42 entry. Both drivers have had success with Toyota in the past. Jones won a Truck Series title with Toyota in 2015, and Nemechek won seven Xfinity Series races with Toyota last season.

Despite a tough 2023, Legacy Motor Club seems primed for a turnaround.

11. Will Blaney Go Back-to-Back?

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An incredible playoff run carried third-generation racer Ryan Blaney to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2023. Can Blaney and the No. 12 Team Penske operation become the first repeat champion since Jimmie Johnson claimed his fifth straight in 2010?

Hendrick Motorsports drivers William Byron and Kyle Larson enter the season as the early championship favorites, while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin will certainly be among the contenders when the playoffs hit high gear.

In order to repeat, Blaney will even have to deal with teammate Joey Logano, who is looking for redemption following a disappointing season.

It should be noted that no driver has earned back-to-back championships under the current points format.

10. No More Dirt at Bristol

The dirt is all cleaned up and the traditional Food City 500 is back on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. This means there are two races on the concrete high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway this season, ending – at least for now – the series’ brief foray into dirt racing.

Plenty of Bristol’s most memorable moments have come during the track’s spring NASCAR weekend. From Jeff Gordon bumping Rusty Wallace out of the way in 1997 to a photo finish between Mark Martin and Davey Allison in 1990, there is something unique about racing at Bristol on a late Sunday afternoon.

So mark your calendar for Sunday, March 17, as NASCAR restores another short-track tradition.

9. Regular Season Ends at Darlington

NASCAR hopes to bring a new level of drama and intrigue to an event that has been a cornerstone of its premier stock car series since Johnny Mantz won the inaugural Southern 500 at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway on Sept. 4, 1950.

This year, the 75th running of the Labor Day weekend classic will be the regular-season finale for the NASCAR Cup Series. Drivers desperate to make the playoffs will have to dance with “The Lady in Black” if they want to be title contenders all the way to the Championship 4 race at Phoenix.

There could be plenty of bent fenders, bruised egos and broken hearts when the dust finally settles on this instant classic.

8. RCR Fans Will Love This

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Jesse Love won 10 of 20 races en route to the 2023 ARCA Menards Series championship, and the teenager from Menlo Park, California, was rewarded with a contract to drive for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series

Love is one of the hottest young prospects in NASCAR, and he joins an RCR team that narrowly missed putting both Xfinity Series drivers in last year’s Championship 4.

Austin Hill, a four-time winner in 2023, was one of those drivers and he’s back for his third season in the No. 21 Chevrolet, while the 19-year-old Love will drive the No. 2 entry. The future is definitely bright at RCR.

7. A Trio of Cup Series Tyros

The NASCAR Cup Series rookie class is one of the most interesting in years. At press time, it was comprised of two drivers who have patiently waited for their shot, along with one young hotshot who has some fences to mend.

Josh Berry, a longtime late model competitor who made of the most of his opportunity to run the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, replaces the retired Kevin Harvick in Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 4 Ford.

Meanwhile, Spire Motorsports has two rookies among its three-car lineup with 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar, who needs to work on his reputation following a controversial ending to the 2023 Truck Series season.

Berry is 33 years old, Smith is 24 and Hocevar is only 21, so it will be interesting to see if age or youth wins this battle.

6. The Brickyard 400 Is Back!

After three years of being contested on the serpentine infield circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the track’s annual NASCAR weekend returns to the 2.5-mile oval that hosted the Brickyard 400 from 1994 to 2020.

The popularity of NASCAR racing skyrocketed during the 1990s and the annual visit to Indianapolis was a contributing factor. The Brickyard 400 was once included among NASCAR’s crown jewel events, but it had lost much of its prestige prior to Roger Penske buying the Indy facility in November 2019.

NASCAR’s Next-Gen cars have yet to race on the 2.5-mile oval so there will be a lot riding on the July 21 event. In addition, every driver still wants to kiss the bricks.

5. Supercars Star Shifts Gears

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New Zealand Supercars legend Shane van Gisbergen sent shockwaves around the world last July when he won the inaugural Chicago Street Race. His NASCAR Cup Series victory on the rain-soaked streets of the Windy City inspired the 34-year-old racer to relocate to the United States and pursue a NASCAR career.

SVG has signed a developmental deal with Trackhouse Racing, the team with which he went to Victory Lane in Chicago. His schedule will reportedly include select races in each of NASCAR’s three national series along with a handful of Late Model starts.

We know he has talent, so it’ll be fun to see how quickly Van Gisbergen learns the intricacies of oval-track racing.

4. Who’ll Stop the Rain?

The inaugural Chicago Street Race was one of the most-anticipated races in recent history, and NASCAR and the residents of Chicago are anxiously awaiting the encore performance on July 6-7.

The hope this year is for a dry weekend. Rain wreaked havoc on the 2023 event with the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and the NASCAR Cup Series race both being shortened due to weather.

Despite the soggy conditions, the Cup Series’ first street race introduced the sport to thousands of first-time spectators and energized existing fans with a thrilling race and an unexpected winner.

Sunshine was the only thing missing.

3. The Petty Legacy Continues

The racing legacy of the legendary Petty family shifts to a new generation this season as Thad Moffitt joins the new Faction46 team to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Moffitt is the grandson of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Richard Petty. He is the first Petty descendant to race full time in NASCAR since Kyle Petty made his final Cup Series start in 2008.

Moffitt spent last season driving in the Trans Am Series, where his best finish was second in the Detroit Grand Prix.

Like Moffitt, Faction46 is also new to the Truck Series, as it becomes the only NASCAR team currently based in Oklahoma.

2. Smile for the Camera

With his NASCAR Cup Series driving career in the rearview mirror, Kevin Harvick will transition to the NASCAR on FOX television booth this season where he will work as an analyst alongside former driver Clint Bowyer and play-by-play veteran Mike Joy.

The 2014 Cup Series champion has long dabbled in television. For several years, he honed his broadcasting skills by serving as a guest analyst for select NASCAR Xfinity Series races televised by FOX.

Harvick is also part of the ownership group that oversees the zMAX CARS Tour, a sanctioning body that organizes and promotes Late Model racing in the Southeast.

1. Iowa Speedway Here We Come

Opened in September 2006, Iowa Speedway has finally secured a coveted date on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

The seven-eighths-mile D-shaped oval in Newton, Iowa, will host the Iowa Corn 350 on Sunday, June 16, and tickets for the 24,000-seat grandstands sold out more than six months in advance.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace helped design the track, which is often compared to Richmond Raceway. However, Iowa’s aged racing surface means low grip and high tire wear, while its progressive banking allows for multiple racing grooves.

The three-day Iowa weekend also includes events for NASCAR Xfinity Series and the ARCA Menard Series.