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Which Lower Series Drivers Will Make it to Cup in 2025?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Silly Season is still a ways away from ramping up, but, one storyline that dominates every Silly Season is which lower series drivers will get their opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series. Today, we take a look at a few drivers who could make that jump as the 2024 NASCAR Silly Season looms in the distance.

  • The NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series are both designed to develop young drivers to race in the NASCAR Cup Series. While the Xfinity Series is technically the 2nd tier with the Truck Series as the 3rd tier, drivers can jump up to Cup after success in either series.
  • While performance is important, that’s not the only factor considered in this list. We will also consider funding, support from the manufacturer, and the age of the prospect when asking if they will make the jump up.
  • Fans love to speculate about who makes the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series. These drivers often make up the biggest storylines of Silly Season.

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Corey Heim

Corey Heim is the top prospect in NASCAR right now in terms of pure driving talent. He is ridiculously consistent with no finishes outside of the top 10 in the first 7 Truck Series races this season. Toyota is also high on him, given he was tabbed to step in for Erik Jones at Dover.

Heim still relies on Safelite, a Toyota company, for sponsorship, but, Toyota clearly wants to bring him along. Having that kind of support from a manufacturer could take Heim a long way, especially if a team like Legacy Motor Club or 23XI Racing chooses to expand.

Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith has impressed in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing. With funding from QuickTie, Smith appears set for a jump to the Cup Series whenever his name is called. That could be as soon as next year with Martin Truex Jr.’s plans beyond 2025 uncertain.

Smith may not be quite as highly touted as Heim, but, Smith has more funding than Heim along with being in the Gibbs ecosystem. Heim has the inside track for that No. 19 car should it open up.

Shane Van Gisbergen

It’s no secret that Trackhouse would like to expand even further, and SVG should be in their future plans. He’s been decent, albeit not great, in his first Xfinity Series season. His run at COTA shows that a win is easily attainable on a road course.

Trackhouse is in wait-and-see mode for now with SVG. If he shows marked improvement, he could be on the fast track to the Cup Series full-time. Especially if they buy a charter and expand.

Riley Herbst

People may dog on Riley Herbst for only having one win, but, the bottom line is how consistent he is. He’s comfortably in the Playoffs right now with 3 top-10 finishes. He may not be the flashiest driver, but, he does compile decent results.

This is perfect for a smaller team. A team like Rick Ware Racing may need a driver with funding who won’t try to do too much with the car. Herbst could be a candidate for one of these smaller teams later in Silly Season.

Christian Eckes

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore just how good Christian Eckes is. It took him a while to figure it out, but, he’s now a bonafide Championship threat with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing. Is it enough to get him a Cup Series ride?

Eckes doesn’t bring much of his own sponsorship, and he is in the Chevrolet camp. Chevy is very crowded right now with Trackhouse having plenty of prospects under their roof, RCR is set with Austin Hill and Jesse Love (who both would be on this list if not for Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch), and Hendrick has every driver locked up through at least 2025. The path upward isn’t clear for Eckes.

These drivers will be fun to watch as the 2024 season progresses. Some of them could be racing on Sundays in 2025.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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