When looking at all manufacturers’ current prospect pool of young drivers, Ford’s prospect pool is definitely the most barren. Zane Smith was their top young driver until he decided to move on to Spire Motorsports and Chevy for 2024.
One thing that we have seen this offseason is manufacturers taking prospects from other manufacturers, so, who are some prospects Ford can take from other race teams in 2024 to drive for teams like AM Racing, Front Row Motorsports, or ThorSport?
It seems that Ford just might have a young driver to build around in the Cup Series based on recent reports. Noah Gragson has emerged as a candidate to take over the 10-car at Stewart-Haas Racing with the recent retirement announcement of Aric Almirola. He would make some sense at SHR should he find the sponsorship.
As far as Ford goes, Gragson would be a serious talent to add to the roster. Yes, he struggled this year with Legacy Motor Club, but, his performance in the Xfinity Series should be noted to show his potential. If he can have his talents properly refined in a good organization, the potential that Gragson has could show itself in results on the race track.
One of the most interesting prospects who has yet to announce his 2024 plans is Rajah Caruth. He spent this year with GMS Racing in the Truck Series, but he has shown flashes while racing for Alpha Prime in the Xfinity Series as well. Should Brett Moffitt leave, Caruth may be an interesting candidate to land at AM Racing in 2024.
He also may be a candidate to drive for ThorSport in 2024 as well. Caruth could fill a gap in the lower series for Ford that was once filled by Zane Smith. He could be the young driver that Ford can try to build around.
Jake Garcia has had a decent season for Bill McAnally this season with eight top-10s, two top-5s, and a 14th-place spot in the points standings. While not a spectacular season, another year in the Truck Series may be an interesting opportunity to allow him to keep getting better. He is only 18 years old, so, he could be a definite candidate to race somewhere like ThorSport.
If Ford wants to go with someone who is a truly young driver, who may be a project, Garcia may fit that mold. However, he is far from a sure thing. That could be what gives Ford pause.
Derek Kraus has run part-time for Kaulig Racing this season with three top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series for the team. He is a solid driver, but he does not have a full-time ride as of yet. He may be able to fill in the gap of a young driver in the Ford camp. However, his experience in NASCAR has not been all great throughout his career.
In three full-time seasons in the Truck Series, Kraus has 24 top-10s, four top-5s, and no wins. Maybe moving to a team like ThorSport in Trucks or even AM Racing in Xfinity could be big for him. He could be a driver to build around.
Parker Retzlaff has yet to announce his plans for 2024, but Jordan Anderson Racing has been. nice home for him this year. This may be the definition of a longshot candidate because of how likely he is to return to Jordan Anderson, but Retzlaff brings funding along with him. Ford would have to do a lot to get him.
Maybe they could open a second Xfinity Series team at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s highly unlikely that Retzlaff could make the jump down to Trucks. It is highly unlikely he would move away from JAR as it is, but, Ford may want to give him a look.
Could Ford find another driver to help supplement their prospect pool? They may need someone at some point. Who else could they go after?