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Why Are These Drivers Not Full-Time in the Cup Series?

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Joshua Lipowski

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As Silly Season continues to roll on, many surprising names find themselves on the sidelines without a ride for the 2024 season. What is it about some of these drivers that is keeping them from the Cup Series full-time?

Ryan Truex

Ryan Truex has only run three full-time seasons in his NASCAR career. He ran full-time in the Truck Series in 2017 and 2021 and full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2018. Aside from that, he won two ARCA Menards Series East Championships in 2009 and 2010.

He also won an Xfinity Series race this year in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, so, he can win races. However, what is keeping him back is likely a lack of funding. Over his last two part-time Xfinity Series seasons, Truex has run cars primarily sponsored by Toyota. This means that Truex does not have a ton of funding behind him, which could limit him because of how important funding is.

Trevor Bayne

2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne, went on a brief hiatus from racing, but he has come back over the last couple of years. He came back with a fury in 2022 with seven top-10 finishes and five top-5 finishes in nine races with Joe Gibbs Racing. However, Bayne was supposed to join a team full-time in 2023.

According to Kelly Crandall of RACER, Bayne said that he had a Truck Series deal lined up for 2023 before a sponsor backed out. At the end of the day, like most other drivers, it comes down to funding. However, even for Bayne, his Cup Series career was never super spectacular as he never finished better than 22nd in points in his full-time Cup Series seasons. It seems that Trucks or Xfinity is where he can go next, but, it depends on whether or not he can grab the funding.

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson was indefinitely suspended earlier this year, and that is why he is out of the sport currently. However, what could keep him out of a full-time ride for next year? He has been reinstated, so, he can race again.

First off, his performance with Legacy Motor Club was awful He has zero top-10 finishes with only two top-20 finishes. Secondly, does Gragson bring enough funding to join a prominent Cup Series ride? He likely lost a lot of sponsors, and Toyota was reportedly looking to replace him before he got suspended.

Brett Moffitt

Brett Moffitt is a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion, yet, he has not even sniffed the top level of the sport since 2017. There are a couple of things that could be keeping Moffitt out of the top level of the sport. First of all, funding is a factor like it is with most other drivers on this list.

Performance is also a major factor as Moffitt has only one top-10 finish in 45 Cup Series starts. Another thing might be Moffitt’s mentality. If he wants to put himself in the best place to win races, then running in the Cup Series may not be his best place. Maybe running in the Truck Series or Xfinity Series full-time could allow him to win races.

Matt DiBenedetto

Matt DiBenedetto has had a very complicated career. From driving for underfunded Cup Series teams to working his way up to The Wood Brothers to winning in the Truck Series to now being a free agent. What is keeping him out of Cup full-time?

Some theorized that his now-deleted video talking about how difficult it was leaving The Wood Brothers may have alienated some race teams. However, he still found a way to get a full-time Truck Series ride, and he won there too. Maybe he has had some trouble finding funding in recent years, but, he also failed to win a race in the Cup Series. It’s possible that performance may have held him back.

Getting to the top level of NASCAR is a very complicated endeavor, and different things hold different drivers back. Will any of these drivers find a way to the Cup Series?

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Joshua Lipowski

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