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Who is the Best of the New(ish) Cup Series Faces?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Cup Series will have 5 new full-time drivers in 2024. Each of these drivers comes to the series with high hopes, but, which driver is best suited to compete at the sport’s highest level? Today, we analyze all of the Cup Series’ newest faces to figure out which one will be the best of the group in 2024.

  • The five new drivers in the Cup Series are as follows: Josh Berry (Stewart-Haas Racing), Carson Hocevar (Spire Motorsports), Zane Smith (Spire Motorsports), Daniel Hemric (Kaulig Racing), and John Hunter Nemechek (Legacy Motor Club)
  • This list will go from worst to best of these drivers based on how they project in 2024, not their future beyond that.
  • Fans love to see different drivers get an opportunity in the Cup Series. Fans love to speculate how drivers will do in the future.

5. Daniel Hemric

Daniel Hemric joined Kaulig Racing in 2024, and he was not the most inspiring driver signing of Silly Season. He’s far from a bad driver, but, he isn’t a great one either. In 8 full-time NASCAR seasons, he has 1 win. Now, that one win did come in the Xfinity Series Championship race in 2021, so, he did win that Championship.

Kaulig Racing as a whole was not bad in the Cup Series in 2023, but, they weren’t great either. They won a race with A.J. Allmendinger at the Charlotte Roval, but, he and Justin Haley both finished outside of the top 20 in the standings.

While Hemric and Kaulig are not expected to bottom out in 2024, there is little reason to believe they will improve much. This may not be a bad move, but, it’s not exactly inspiring.

4. Carson Hocevar

Carson Hocevar is a talented, but raw young prospect. He burst onto the scene in the Truck Series making the final four, and he impressed in 9 Cup Series starts in 2023. He joins Spire Motorsports, who went on a massive spending spree in the offseason.

Hocevar also had a few not-so-great moments in 2023, which exposed how raw he is. As a result, he may struggle some in 2024, but, he isn’t under pressure to win right away. He joins a team that finished 33rd in the Owner’s Standings in 2023.

Hocevar is the definition of a wild card. He may have a great season, and he may struggle as well. However, if Spire takes the time to let him develop, he may project better than others throughout his career.

3. Zane Smith

Zane Smith is finally getting his chance in the Cup Series. He spent four seasons in the Truck Series including three Championship 4 appearances and the 2022 Series Championship. He joins the new #71 team at Spire Motorsports with a contract from Trackhouse.

Joining an entirely new race team is not an easy task, especially for a rookie like Smith. Still, he showed flashes in the Cup Series including a top-10 in the Coca-Cola 600 in 2023 for Front Row Motorsports. The driver talent is there, but, the race team is a wild card.

With his contract with Trackhouse, Smith projects well into the future. His maturity and experience put him slightly ahead of his teammate, Carson Hocevar, on this list. However, the brand-new race team is a wild card.

2. John Hunter Nemechek

John Hunter Nemechek has successfully rebuilt his career. After one season in the Cup Series in 2020, he moved back to the Truck Series and worked his way back up the ladder. Now, he is with Legacy Motor Club, which has made major improvements.

Nemechek joins a team that is now a key partner Toyota team with plenty of new sponsors. The team has everything in place to perform well in 2024, and Nemechek showed his talent in the Xfinity Series with 7 wins in 2023. Everything is in place for a solid season, the question is, can they put it all together?

2024 is going to be a major transition year for both LMC and Nemechek. The optimism is high, and that puts them at number 2 on this list.

1. Josh Berry

Josh Berry joins the race team who performed the best in 2023 of all drivers on this list. Yes, SHR struggled as a whole, but the #4 car made the Playoffs with Kevin Harvick. Berry teams up the crew chief of that #4 team, Rodney Childers, for 2024.

However, SHR failed to win a race in 2023, and Josh Berry is no Kevin Harvick. It doesn’t mean Berry cannot have a solid career, but, living up to Kevin Harvick’s career is tough to do. Did Harvick mask the issues SHR had, or was the #4 team actually that much better?

Still, Berry had 3 top-10s in 10 Cup Series starts in 2023. He has shown that he can run up front in the Cup Series more consistently than other drivers have.

Who will be the best new face in the Cup Series in 2024? Will these drivers surprise anyone?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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