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Which Drivers Could Be on the Outside Looking In After NASCAR Cup Series Silly Season?

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Joshua Lipowski

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We spend a lot of time during NASCAR silly season looking at which drivers will land these great opportunities to drive these great race cars. Unfortunately, some free agents are left on the outside looking in when all of the dust settles. Which drivers are in danger of that this year?

Matt DiBenedetto

Matt DiBenedetto surprised pretty much everyone when he announced that he was not returning to Rackley WAR in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season. Given the fact that he won his first race with the team, and made the Playoffs on points this season, some wondered if he would just camp out in the Truck Series for the rest of his career. Many drivers like Todd Bodine, Johnny Benson, Matt Crafton, and others have done so.

Instead, DiBenedetto is choosing to bet on himself, which has worked before, as it helped land him his Cup Series ride with The Wood Brothers. Unfortunately for him, it is very late in the game, and most Cup Series rides are either taken up or well into their driver search process. It’s very possible DiBenedetto has a hard time finding any full-time ride next season, let alone in the Cup Series.

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson is still indefinitely suspended by NASCAR, and he will remain suspended until he completes the reinstatement process. A Cup Series ride in 2024 is out the window, at least a full-time one. Depending on when he is reinstated, it is not out of the question that he gets a part-time ride in Xfinity or Trucks, and a full-time ride is not completely out of the question either.

This all depends on which teams are willing to take a chance on Gragson, and which sponsors will take on his baggage. Fair or not, Gragson will have to carry that baggage with him for a while, and that could hamper his return to the sport from a sponsorship support standpoint. Then again, his talent on the race track should allow him to race somewhere, even if that is not in the Cup Series. On top of that, based on his former boss’ comments, it seems he is working and growing through that reinstatement process

Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon currently sits 32nd in points, which is the lowest of any driver who has competed in every race this season. The #77 Spire Motorsports car’s 2024 driver is still to be determined, and many have linked Carson Hocevar to that ride. If Dillon is left out of the #77 car in 2024, then where can he realistically go?

It’s a tough sell to ownership to bring on the driver who finished essentially last in the series standings. As a result, it is tough to see Dillon fitting in with really anyone in the Cup Series in 2024. Maybe his sponsorship will take him a few places, but, his performance will be a major hurdle.

Zane Smith

Zane Smith was the odd man out at Front Row Motorsports when they decided to re-sign Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland for another season. Smith is free to explore his options, but those options are getting smaller by the day. Many have linked him to Stewart-Haas Racing if Aric Almirola retires, but there is no official decision from Almirola yet.

Smith is absolutely a candidate for the #31 Kaulig ride as well, at least he looks like a good candidate on paper. It is a very real possibility that Smith, once again, will not be able to make the jump up to the Cup Series next season. It’s not all over yet for Smith, but time is ticking on 2024.

A.J. Allmendinger

A.J. Allmendinger has still not officially said if he will return to the Kaulig Racing number 16 car next season. He has not even said if he will return to the Cup Series next season. A lot of reasons go into that, but, Allmendinger may be looking at a move down to Xfinity for next season.

This is not a total surprise as Allmendinger has not had a great season, and he has had the bulk of his NASCAR success in the Xfinity Series. Why not take a step down to give someone like Chandler Smith or Daniel Hemric a chance at the top level? As that happens, Allmendinger can get back to winning races and competing for Championships in the Xfinity Series.

Which drivers will be on the outside looking into the Cup Series next season? Some of these drivers may, but a few others may be as well.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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