Josh Berry has emerged as the favorite to replace Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing next season. A recent report by Jordan Bianchi says that Berry and Stewart-Haas Racing are working on finalizing a contract. If Berry leaves, that leaves a highly coveted seat open at JR Motorsports for next season in the Xfinity Series.
Which drivers are current favorites to land that seat? Here are the four driver we at the Daily Downforce see as potential replacements.
Hocevar is one of the most intriguing prospects in NASCAR currently. The Portage, Michigan, native is already in his third full-time Truck Series season at the age of 20, and this year he has really turned some heads. Not only did he win his first Truck Series race, but his impressive substitute performance at Gateway last weekend in the Cup Series caught the eye of team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Now, while he may have Earnhardt Jr.’s attention, Hocevar is still a raw prospect. While he has shown flashes of brilliance, he has also shown a tendency to be overly aggressive. He is going to likely need some time to develop, but JR Motorsports could be the perfect place for it.
For someone like Austin Hill, you need to look at whether or not a path upwards is available for him. Richard Childress Racing is likely not changing their driver lineup anytime soon in the Cup Series with Kyle Busch winning races and Austin Dillon being, well, you know.
If Hill has bigger aspirations, he needs to make a change. JR Motorsports is a Chevy team just like RCR is a Chevy team. If Hill wants to make a change, now may be the perfect time to strike.
Hemric is in a similar situation as Hill, but whether or not Hemric is willing and able to move is a question as well. If Earnhardt Jr. wants to replace Berry with another veteran, then why not bring in a guy with experience at the Cup Series level. On top of that, Hemric did run part-time in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports in 2021 netting 12 top-10s
The big issue with Hemric comes with race-winning performance. His only Xfinity Series win came in 2021, which also happened to be in the Championship race at Phoenix giving Hemric the 2021 Series championship. Hemric does not win many races, and that could deter him from this seat.
If nothing at the Cup level materializes for Zane Smith, why would he want to run a fifth season in the Truck Series. He clearly has Cup Series aspirations, and if he cannot move upwards at Front Row at the end of this season, then something needs to change. That change could come in the form of one of the top Xfinity Series teams on the grid.
The question here is whether or not Smith would be available. He is undoubtedly going to get interest from Cup Series teams such with Stewart-Haas Racing and Front Row Motorsports being potential destinations. It would likely be a disaster scenario if Smith was not in the Cup Series next year, but stranger things have happened.
The options are definitely there for JR Motorsports. Whether they want to go with another veteran to replace Berry or if they want to go younger. Ultimately, it seems as if this highly depends on how Cup Series silly season plays out.