What’s Happening?

As the 2024 NASCAR season approaches, there are plenty of race teams that we do not know exactly how they will fare. They have plenty of reasons for optimism, but there are also reasons to doubt whether or not that optimism is truly earned. Who are the biggest wild card teams for the 2024 NASCAR season?

  • For this list, we will focus on the NASCAR Cup Series. We will also only focus on full-time teams and entries, so, part-time teams are ineligible.
  • When we think of “Wild Card”, we will be looking at teams who could be very good or very bad. These are teams that either performed above or performed below expectations in 2023, but, their 2024 prognosis remains somewhat unclear.
  • Fans are very curious to see how these race teams will do. Everyone seems to have an opinion on these race teams.

Legacy Motor Club

Legacy Motor Club turned nearly the entire organization upside down after 2023. They switched manufacturers and are now a key partner Toyota team, hired John Hunter Nemechek to drive the 42 car, and, as Joey Cohen told Kelly Crandall of RACER, have grown from 70 or 75 employees to around 115. That goes before mentioning the new sponsors, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, AdventHealth, and Gearwrench.

While these seem to be positive changes, the wild card with LMC is how much change is happening in such as short period. Cohen told Crandall that the team is still working through all of the changes they need to make because of Toyota entering. It is a transition period for Legacy Motor Club.

Rarely are transitions like this completely smooth, even if they turn out to be beneficial in the long run. Eventually, LMC should get the kinks worked out, but, if they take too long to do so, that could put 2024 improvements in jeopardy.

Spire Motorsports

Spire Motorsports is in a similar boat to Legacy Motor Club. Spire went on a major spending spree during NASCAR Silly Season after a major influx of cash from Gainbridge. They bought out Kyle Busch Motorsports, moved into a new shop, extended Corey LaJoie, bought a charter, aligned with Trackhouse, and signed rookies Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith.

The wild card with Spire is that there is a lot of unproven talent within that team. Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith have yet to run a full Cup Series season, so, we do not know how good they will really be. Corey LaJoie struggled in top equipment at Hendrick Motorsports at Gateway last June, so, can he handle driving good equipment?

There is reason to be optimistic, but, there are also a lot of unknowns. This is another team that may deal with some growing pains as the season goes on. Still, they have all of the resources necessary to take a big leap in 2024.

Front Row Motorsports

Front Row Motorsports has quietly gotten better and better over the last few years. They went from a start and park team in the early 2010s to a multi-time race winner, and, they have made the Playoffs two of the last three seasons. They aren’t making any major changes aside from switching their technical alliance from RFK to Team Penske, but, why would they need to?

The wild card is their driver lineup. They let Zane Smith go in favor of Todd Gilliland and Michael McDowell. That decision could haunt FRM if Smith excels and Gilliland and McDowell hit their ceiling. Maybe they won’t regress, but, it could stunt their growth.

Still, three solid seasons in a row gives this team a consistent base. That gives fans good reason to trust that the team can put together another solid season.

Richard Childress Racing

We still don’t know what to make of RCR’s 2023 season. Kyle Busch had a great first half where he won three races, but he floundered in the second half. Austin Dillon was slow all season long. The team flashed potential, so, there is reason for optimism.

However, the way the season ended is very concerning. In terms of drivers, Busch is not getting any younger, and Dillon is not a top-tier talent. Is it possible the team could regress some in 2024, especially without any major changes?

It all depends on which RCR we get. If we get the Kyle Busch first-half RCR, they can be great. If we get the second half RCR, this team will struggle to make the Playoffs.

JTG Daugherty Racing

JTG Daugherty Racing was another team that started great, but they finished poorly in 2023. In the first 22 races, they only had 5 finishes outside of the top 20, compared to 7 finishes outside of the top 20 in the final 14 races. However, the Daytona 500 win shows they can win on superspeedways, which is where driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tends to thrive.

Like RCR, which JTG Daugherty will we get in 2024? Will we get the consistently fast first-half team that was in the top 15 in points, or will it be the struggling end-of-season team who finished last amongst Playoff teams in the points standings?

They can run solidly, and they can do it consistently. However, they did not have a lot of momentum heading into the offseason.

Rick Ware Racing

Rick Ware Racing made some interesting changes heading into 2024. They signed Justin Haley to race full-time, and they signed Kaz Grala to enter the majority of races in the team’s second car. They also have an alliance with RFK Racing, which is on an upward trend.

However, Rick Ware Racing has yet to prove they can consistently run in the top 30. No RWR car has finished higher than 33rd in owner’s points, and that continued last year with the two cars finishing 34th and 35th. Simply put, do they have the equipment and manpower to compete in NASCAR?

They have made some improvements, but, will it be enough? That’s the question, and this team needs to make strides and fast.

Which race team is your biggest wild card heading into 2024? How will each of these teams do in 2024?