It’s never to early to start speculating about future NASCAR Silly Seasons, but, with all of these young drivers moving rides, when can they make it to the highest level of the sport? Which drivers are prime candidates to move up the NASCAR Cup Series in 2025?
Chandler Smith brings some funding from QuickTie Products, and he may be a likely candidate to head to Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2024. Joe Gibbs Racing is an interesting race team for 2025 with Martin Truex Jr. potentially retiring any year now. That opens up a Toyota seat, and whoever performs well for JGR in the Xfinity Series could be the top candidate for this ride.
Smith has won an Xfinity Series race this season, and he has three Cup Series starts as well. That experience and a solid amount of funding behind him means that Smith could have an inside track to a Cup Series ride for 2025. It all depends on how the JGR Xfinity Series seat works out.
Corey Heim is returning to TRICON Garage in the Craftsman Truck Series for 2024, and he is definitely a top prospect. He is the Championship favorite in the series heading into the final race at Phoenix Raceway. There is also a recent trend of drivers skipping series to make their way up to Cup.
Drivers like Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith are skipping Xfinity to race in Cup in 2024, and Jesse Love is skipping Trucks to go straight to Xfinity. The issue with Heim is where could he go. Will he be able to jump drivers in the JGR Xfinity Series program to move up to a Toyota Cup Series ride? It might be tough, but the talent is definitely there.
Sammy Smith is making the jump from JGR to JRM for 2024, and he was the first prospect that Chevy poached from Toyota this Silly Season. Smith won his first Xfinity Series race this season, and he is not even 20 years old yet. Yes, he does lag behind John Hunter Nemechek some, but that can be chalked up to youth.
Now that he is at Chevy, teams like Spire Motorsports become an interesting potential landing spot for Smith. He brings sponsorship, and Spire will likely be looking for a new driver in 2024 to drive that third car when Zane Smith leaves to join Trackhouse. If Smith impresses, this could be his landing spot.
Sam Mayer has turned on the jets late in the season with four wins and a Championship 4 appearance. Three of those wins came on road courses, but his fourth win came on the 1.5-mile oval of Homestead-Miami Speedway. If he can more consistently win races on ovals, he will drastically help his Cup Series chances.
Again, Spire is the one Chevy team that could have an opening come 2025. However, it’s possible that something else will open up for Mayer. Could he be willing to switch manufacturers to go to a team like Stewart-Haas Racing in 2025 maybe?
Nick Sanchez may look like a surprising addition to this list, but, his connection to Spire Motorsports is an interesting one. He is sponsored by Gainbridge, which is a Spire sponsor. Spire also bought out Kyle Busch Motorsports, whom Rev Racing had an alliance with.
Sanchez has also performed well with five poles and a Playoff appearance in the Truck Series this season. He has been a solid driver, and if he starts winning races, he’s the connections and the finding for a Spire ride to potentially work. Then again, it partially depends on how Spire goes about their Truck Series buyout.
Ultimately, time will tell how 2025 Silly Season will play out. Will any of these drivers find a way into the Cup Series for 2025?