NASCAR Draft Kit: 2024 Driver Rankings

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2024 Driver Rankings

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

Below are our driver rankings and outlooks for the 2024 NASCAR season.

  1. Kyle Larson – For the second time in the last three seasons, Larson advanced to the championship round in Phoenix and raced for last season's title. His third-place finish would fall short of Ryan Blaney and Larson would finish runner-up in the championship chase. Still, his four-win and 18 Top-10 finish campaign checked a lot of boxes. With 17 combined victories in the last three campaigns, it's not in question who you have to beat every weekend to get into NASCAR Cup Series victory lane. The Hendrick Motorsports star was pretty dominant on short tracks and most intermediate ovals in 2023, so that's a good sign heading into the new year. Those two types of tracks make up a bulk of the schedule, so dominance on those is an automatic setup for championship contention. Larson was pretty hot down the stretch with one win, two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes in the final four races of last season. That's a great sign heading into 2024.
  2. William Byron – Byron had easily the best campaign of his six-season Cup Series career in 2023. He marched to six victories, 15 Top-5 and 21 Top-10 finishes, all new career highs. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet participated in his first championship race in Phoenix as one of the title contenders and did not disappoint. Byron nabbed the pole position and led 95 laps before eventually fading to fourth-place and an

Below are our driver rankings and outlooks for the 2024 NASCAR season.

  1. Kyle Larson – For the second time in the last three seasons, Larson advanced to the championship round in Phoenix and raced for last season's title. His third-place finish would fall short of Ryan Blaney and Larson would finish runner-up in the championship chase. Still, his four-win and 18 Top-10 finish campaign checked a lot of boxes. With 17 combined victories in the last three campaigns, it's not in question who you have to beat every weekend to get into NASCAR Cup Series victory lane. The Hendrick Motorsports star was pretty dominant on short tracks and most intermediate ovals in 2023, so that's a good sign heading into the new year. Those two types of tracks make up a bulk of the schedule, so dominance on those is an automatic setup for championship contention. Larson was pretty hot down the stretch with one win, two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes in the final four races of last season. That's a great sign heading into 2024.
  2. William Byron – Byron had easily the best campaign of his six-season Cup Series career in 2023. He marched to six victories, 15 Top-5 and 21 Top-10 finishes, all new career highs. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet participated in his first championship race in Phoenix as one of the title contenders and did not disappoint. Byron nabbed the pole position and led 95 laps before eventually fading to fourth-place and an impressive third-place finish in the final standings. He was hot throughout the playoffs with one pole position, one victory, two runner-up finishes and six Top 5's during the Chase for the Cup. That dominance and excellence should carry in to the new season. Byron and crew chief, Rudy Fugle, have things humming along like a well-oiled machine and we may not have seen their very best just yet.
  3. Ryan Blaney – Blaney has been a classic underachiever for most of his career, but not in 2023. The Penske Racing star collected three wins and 18 Top-10 finishes in a terrific campaign. The driver of the No. 12 Ford would be red hot during the Chase and would snap up two wins, and two runner-up finishes, including a runner-up effort in the season finale at Phoenix that would crown him the 2023 champion. Blaney will be challenged to top that performance in the upcoming season. Despite the hot end to the year and the short off-season, our prior three defending champions have finished fourth-, seventh- and 12th-place in the final standings of their title defense years. That's a foreboding statistic for Blaney going into 2024. He has a great team, and great support around him, but can he hold onto these gains? We believe he can to a certain extent. Another two-to-three-win campaign is quite possible and another flirtation with the 20 Top-10 mark should be in store. Whether it leads to a second title depends entirely on how Blaney racing during the critical 10 races of the Chase.         
  4. Denny Hamlin – Hamlin has averaged four wins and finished inside the Top-5 of the championship points in each of the last five seasons. We don't see that changing anytime soon for the Joe Gibbs Racing star. While he didn't race for the title at Phoenix, he was the first guy "outside looking in" and wound up a very respectable fifth-place in the points. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota showed his staying power with three wins and 19 Top-10 finishes in 2023. For the 43-year-old Hamlin that proved his worth in a sport that is ever shifting younger. We didn't see many cracks in the armor in the past season, so we're projecting similar performance for this driver and team in 2024. Short tracks and intermediate ovals were Hamlin's sweet spots last season and that should continue to keep him championship relevant for the immediate future.      
  5. Christopher Bell – Bell returns for his fifth Cup Series campaign, fourth in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota. The budding star continued etching out his top reputation with a two-win, 19 Top-10 finish season in 2023. He'd advance into the championship round of the playoffs and wind up fourth in the final standings after the Phoenix season finale. That's Bell's second-straight championship race and second-straight Top-4 finish. This speaks to his skill and advancement in NASCAR's top division. We don't foresee any regression in this driver and team's future, in fact, we expect continued growth and excellence from Bell. As he's shown the last two campaigns, the Joe Gibbs Racing youngster is very capable on short tracks and intermediate ovals, but he is also a growing threat to win on the NASCAR road courses. Superspeedway racing seems to be his only real weakness right now, and fortunately that's only four of the 36 events on the calendar.
  6. Chase Elliott – 2023 was a lost season for Elliott and the No. 9 Chevrolet team. His early-season injury (broken leg) not only took him out of the car for seven events, but it totally demolished any momentum he had built in the opening races of last season. Elliott would struggle through a winless season, his first since 2017, and finish a distant 17th-place in the driver standings. The Hendrick Motorsports star will look to erase those memories with a strong 2024 resurgence, however, he'll have a long way to climb back is he's to reach the four-win, 21 Top-10 marks that Elliott averaged the three prior seasons. Alan Gustafson will return at crew chief and he will help Elliott to rediscover his groove. It will be difficult to consider him an immediate championship contender after such a rough season, but we consider a couple wins and return to the Top 10 in driver points pretty attainable goals. If any further elevation is to be made, Elliott will need to reach very deep to put himself into the 2024 championship discussion by this November.       
  7. Joey Logano – Logano had a bit of a puzzling season last year. He'd only post one victory and 17 Top-10 finishes en route to an early exit from the NASCAR playoffs. The Penske Racing star would end the campaign a distant 12th in the driver standings, a six-season low mark. A bit of a pattern has emerged with this driver and team. Logano has established an on-again-off-again pattern where he has one good season and the following a bit of an off season. Given this information, it's a bit easier to be optimistic for Logano and the No. 22 Ford team in 2024. Could he rebound to the four-win, 17 Top-10 finish marks of 2022? Quite possibly. That campaign rewarded Logano with his second-career Cup Series championship. We believe Logano and crew chief, Paul Wolfe, will find a bit of their old groove back. Whether that leads to championship contention is yet to be seen, but a more consistent and dangerous Logano should be expected in 2024.     
  8. Kyle Busch – The first season with Richard Childress Racing and the No. 8 Chevrolet team was a success. Busch didn't advance as far into the playoffs as he would have liked, but he still racked up three victories (a four-season high) and 17 Top-10 finishes. It all added up to a 14th-place finish in the points, but the performance was markedly improved over his last season with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2022. The big question surrounding this driver and team for 2024, is how much can they improve? Busch and crew chief, Randall Burdett, had some pretty good accomplishments together last year, but they lacked week-to-week consistency. That is the missing ingredient for more Top 10's and a deeper drive into the playoffs. Busch is still capable of 3-to-5 wins and north of 20 Top-10 finishes as a driver. The ability to make that happen is largely going to fall on Burdett and the rest of the No. 8 team.
  9. Tyler Reddick – The move to 23XI Racing and the No. 45 Toyota team last season was a success. Reddick nabbed two victories and 16 Top-10 finishes, and he rounded out last season strong with a good drive into the playoffs (finishing sixth in the final driver standings). What will this young driver do for an encore in 2024? We believe Reddick is one of the budding talents in the sport with the most unrealized potential to this point. 23XI Racing is growing and clearly getting stronger as we go and that should help boost Reddick in his pursuit of a championship and climbing these very driver rankings. Billy Scott will remain as crew chief of this driver and team and continue to grow his chemistry with Reddick. The young driver is already one of the top road course performers in the Cup Series and he's getting better very quickly on the intermediate ovals, a major key to success in NASCAR's top division. 
  10. Martin Truex Jr. – After a woeful 2022 season that had rumors of Truex possibly retiring stirring about the garage area, the veteran Joe Gibbs Racing driver rebounded nicely in 2023. He marched to three victories and 17 Top-10 finishes to end up the campaign a respectable 11th in the final driver standings. That was a far cry from his winless 2022 and 17th-place finish in the standings. Truex will look to build on last season with another solid showing in 2024. While we believe the driver of the No. 19 Toyota is a bit removed from his championship contention years of 2017-2021, he still has some firepower and wins left in him. Last season Truex won on a short track, mid-size track and a road course. That type of diversity of excellence is what we've come to expect over this driver's 18-season career. Crew chief James Small helped Truex to overcome a lot of obstacles last season and he'll continue to guide the veteran from atop the team's war wagon.   
  11. Ross Chastain – Chastain had a bit of a perplexing season in 2023. While he still won two races, his Top-10 totals dropped from 21 to 14 over the prior year and his average finish swelled from 13.3 to 15.0. Some of the consistency he enjoyed in 2022 seemed to be missing last year and as a consequence it was only good for ninth-place in the final driver standings. Much of that was thanks to a late-season playoff heater that saw Chastain grab a win in the season finale, four Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes in the playoffs. That's a good look heading into the short off-season and very encouraging for 2024. We may be being a bit too conservative ranking Chastain 11th in the pre-season rankings as he certainly has the ability to grab wins and pile up Top 10's. He's shown he can be a championship contending driver and he could resume that in the upcoming season.   
  12. Chris Buescher – The biggest surprise driver and the one no one saw coming in 2023 was Buescher and his No. 17 Ford team. The Roush Fenway Keselowski veteran put it all together last season and posted a career-best campaign of three wins and 17 Top-10 finishes, all career highs with a shocking seventh-place finish in the final driver standings. Those marks far outshone anything Buescher had done in his prior eight seasons of racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. What next for an encore? Try to hold onto those gains and maybe build on them. What Buescher did last season was titanic leap in performance and hard to imagine increasing much going forward. So we're taking the position of "hold the line" with this driver and team. We may even see some slight regression as that is more likely than growth. Still, Buescher showed he could be strong on all types of tracks, so his versatility is very impressive.
  13. Brad Keselowski – Despite being winless for the second-straight season, Keselowski returned more to expected form with his solid 2023 campaign. The owner/driver of the No. 6 Ford posted seven Top-5 and 16 Top-10 finishes in a very consistent performance and surprising eighth-place finish in the final standings. Matt McCall performed admirably at crew chief over the previous season and helped Keselowski to whittle his average finish back down to a more typical 14.4 for the 39-year-old driver. The goals for 2024 should include getting back into victory lane for the first time since 2021, pushing back closer to the 20 Top-10 mark and hopefully advancing into the championship round of the Chase. Those are lofty goals, and maybe not all of them are achievable, but we believe Keselowski will continue to strive towards them and make as much headway as possible.
  14. Ty Gibbs – Gibbs took a little bit to get rolling, but once he got some momentum on his side, he would easily march to Rookie of the Year honors in 2023. The Joe Gibbs Racing youngster would heat up in the second half of last season and earn 10 Top-10 finishes and wind up a respectable 18th-place in the points at the end of last year. Gibbs will now look to continue climbing the ladder and follow the example his teammate, Christopher Bell, has set with driver development at JGR. We believe that's a very good comparison and likely a good predictor of potential performance. Bell posted similar rookie numbers to Gibbs and in year two would earn one win and 16 Top-10 finishes en route to a strong 12th-place showing in the driver standings. Gibbs is quite capable of meeting, if not exceeding those goals. He and crew chief, Chris Gayle, developed some clear chemistry by the end of last season, so we'll see what they can accomplish in 2024.
  15. Alex Bowman – Last year was easily Bowman's worst campaign since joining Hendrick Motorsports. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet only nabbed 10 Top-10 finishes, no wins and wound up a distant 20th-place in the driver points. Those were all career-low marks for Bowman since moving to Hendrick in 2018. We would like to remain optimistic about a rebound for this driver and team, but frankly Bowman's end to 2023 does not instill us with a lot of confidence going forward. With just two Top-10 finishes during the 10-race playoffs and ending on finishes of 35th-, 19th-, 32nd- and 17th-place, this is a race team entering 2024 with a lot of questions to answer. Blake Harris remains the crew chief for Bowman, for now. His mere 65 starts of experience as a Cup Series crew chief will be coming into focus in the next year. If Bowman has a slow start in the upcoming season, a new crew chief could be called on to turn things around.
  16. Bubba Wallace – Wallace returns for season four with 23XI Racing and piloting the No. 23 Toyota. Last season marked his first entrance into the Chase for the Cup playoffs. Despite being winless for 2023, Wallace would earn his way into the 16-driver field on the basis of points. The 30-year-old driver would advance into the second round of the Chase before being eliminated. Wallace would nab 10 Top-10 finishes for the season, gather a career-best 15.9 average finish and wind up a respectable 10th-place in the series points. The entire team including crew chief, Bootie Barker, are returning for 2024. Wallace would like to get back into the win column again in the upcoming season and perhaps push his Top 10 totals a bit higher. Those would seem to be attainable goals considering he raced so well last season on short tracks and intermediate ovals.
  17. Austin Cindric – This is a make-or-break season for Cindric in 2024. The young driver is coming off his second campaign in Roger Penske's No. 2 Ford and it did not measure up to Penske standards by any stretch of the imagination. Cindric failed to make the Chase playoffs and only collected five Top-10 finishes throughout the 2023 season. It all added up to a disappointing 24th-place finish in the final driver standings for Cindric and the No. 2 team. These developments are quite concerning considering that his teammate at Penske, Ryan Blaney, won three races and took last season's Cup Series championship. The pressure will be on to rebound in the upcoming season. This is a contract year for Cindric and he'll have all the motivation he needs to perform. Brian Wilson returns at crew chief and the two will look to resurrect the No. 2 Ford team to its former glory and prestige. Improvement is a given, although we're not convinced it will be by any means dramatic.       
  18. Chase Briscoe – Briscoe would sign a multi-year extension with Stewart Haas Racing early in 2023. However, he would then go out and lay a bit of an egg in terms of performance. The driver of the No. 14 Ford labored to just eight Top-10 finishes for the season and saw his average finish balloon from 17.3 to 20.3 year-over-year. There were a lot of challenges and disappointments for this driver and team in 2023. Now with Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola gone, Briscoe becomes a driver of focus at this four-car stable. His 108 Cup Series starts and one-career victory are the most experience that any driver in SHR can boast. Briscoe will once again be teamed with crew chief, Richard Boswell, and the two will look to make some gains over last season's campaign. The young driver showed some improvement on short tracks last season, so hopefully he can add that to his already steady performance on superspeedways and road circuits.      
  19. Michael McDowell – McDowell didn't enjoy the consistency that he showed in 2022, but he did check some major boxes last season. The Front Row Motorsports veteran would nab his second-career victory with an upset win on the Indy Grand Prix circuit. That would put him in the Chase playoffs for the second time in the last three years. Despite an early exit from the playoffs and 15th-place points finish, it would still be a pretty good season for the veteran driver and this small race team. The 39-year-old returns to the No. 34 Ford for the upcoming season and is reunited with crew chief, Travis Peterson. The duo will look to make another run at the playoffs, and hopefully a new career-best finish in the driver points. If McDowell could demonstrate more consistency in 2024 and possibly lower that 19.0 average finish from last season, it would certainly help to that end.  
  20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Stenhouse enjoyed a banner year in 2023 highlighted by his Daytona 500 triumph to begin the season. He would also post nine Top-10 finishes for the first time since his 2017 season. JTG Daugherty Racing enjoyed one of their finest campaigns as a team, thanks to Stenhouse's efforts. The win was a big one too with his upset victory in the season-opening Daytona 500. Stenhouse signed a multi-season extension with JTG Daugherty in 2022, so he'll be around for the near future. What will he and the No. 47 Chevrolet team do for an encore in 2024? It's difficult to imagine that Stenhouse will hold onto all these gains from last season. Performance should be comparable, but likely with a slight downturn. Mike Kelley returns at crew chief, and that's very good news. However, the mid-pack of the Cup Series driver pool is packed with competition. Making the playoffs for a second-straight season may just be slightly out of reach.
  21. Daniel Suarez – The 31-year-old Mexican saw a bit of a dip in performance last season. Suarez saw his Top-5 totals dip from six to just three and his Top-10 total from 13 to 10 year-over-year. It would lead to him missing the Chase playoffs and finishing 19th-place in the final point standings. As a result of his consistency struggles, Suarez would see his average finish grow to a subpar 19.0. Qualifying also suffered which placed him a bit further back on the starting grid. The team returns intact for 2024, including crew chief Travis Mack. Sponsorship is still solid so there should be some hope for improvements in the coming season. Intermediate and larger ovals were his strength in 2023 and the good news is that Suarez continues to improve in road course performance. The future is bright, but expectations must be tempered to incremental at best.  
  22. Josh Berry – The leading rookie of the year candidate replaces Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Ford after this retirement at the conclusion of 2023. Berry comes to the Cup Series after three full seasons of Xfinity Series action and some truck series experience. He's a bit older than the average rookie driver at a seasoned 32-years-old. Berry made 10 starts in NASCAR's top division last season doing relief driver duty. He'd show his capabilities by nabbing three Top 10's in those starts. Berry checks all the boxes regarding maturity, experience and some Cup action to acclimate to the cars. However, his biggest limiting factor in 2024 could be the team situation at Stewart Haas Racing. He'll be paired with ace crew chief, Rodney Childers, but the team is clearly in regression right now and looking at a youth movement among their drivers. Berry will easily capture ROTY this season, but they'll be a steep learning curve as well.
  23. Erik Jones – Jones experienced some regression in 2023 and posted just seven Top-10 finishes and a career-worst 27th-place finish in the driver standings. He also registered a career-worst 20.4 average finish for the campaign. The newly-branded Legacy Motor Club seemed to take a few steps back from their much more successful 2022 season. Jones' struggles were not unique as Noah Gragson and other driver's also struggled in the team's cars. New for 2024, Legacy Motor Club makes the switch to Toyota from Chevrolet. It's difficult to forecast how this change will immediately impact performance, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect some time to adjust before any gains are realized. Jones will be reunited with crew chief, Dave Elenz, so continuity and chemistry should continue to build. The veteran driver has clearly demonstrated he can be a "middle teens" driver but it will take some time and effort to get back there.      
  24. Austin Dillon – Dillon was the enigma of the 2023 season. While his new teammate, Kyle Busch, was racing to victories and into the playoffs, Dillon would flounder. The 33-year-old veteran would slog to just seven Top-10 finishes and a career-low of 29th in the driver standings. The 21.8 average finish was also another career-low since Dillon started full-time competition in NASCAR's top division. The lack of consistency and lack of qualifying speed was puzzling for the No. 3 team considering how well their comrades in the No. 8 team were performing. Dillon will look to hit the reset button in 2024, but he'll face a tall task elevating this team. Keith Rodden will continue at crew chief, and the two will attempt to sort things out. The final five seasons of last season showed some glimmers of hope, so there's reason for some optimism heading into the upcoming season.
  25. Noah Gragson – Gragson had a tough rookie season in 2023. He'd struggle to perform at Legacy Motor Club, and he'd part ways with the team late in the season after a social media/conduct violation. After completing sensitivity training he'd be reinstated by NASCAR and immediately become a free agent driver of interest by many teams. Gragson's 13-career wins in the Xfinity Series and runner-up points finishes in both the Camping World and Xfinity Series demonstrate Gragson's skill. He has what it takes to make it at NASCAR's top level, he just needs the right team situation around him to coalesce. The youngster replaces Aric Almirola in Stewart Haas Racing's No. 10 Ford. This team regressed from 14th in the standings to 22nd during Almirola's last five seasons, so there's potential here but also a bad trend line. It will take everything Gragson can muster along with best cars that crew chief Drew Blickensderfer can give him to succeed.
  26. Ryan Preece – Preece will continue with the No. 41 Stewart Haas Racing team in 2024. Chad Johnston will continue at crew chief despite just two Top-10 finishes by this driver and team last season. For all of Preece's struggles he still managed a career-best 20.8 average finish, so all the news isn't completely bad. In fact, the journeyman driver showed some glimmers of hope in the closing stages of last season. Preece fetched one Top-10 and four Top-15 finishes in the final six events of 2023. The 15.3 average finish across that "home stretch" span far exceeded his season average. So we carry some optimism into 2024 for Preece and the No. 41 team despite some of the headwinds that Stewart Haas Racing currently faces. Watch him early in the season, especially when it comes to qualifying. Those early races and qualifying will play a key part in any success and growth he has in upcoming campaign.
  27. John Hunter Nemechek – Nemechek gets a second crack at NASCAR's top division in 2024. He was a rookie driver for Front Row Motorsports in 2020, but washed out after one season of struggles and poor performance. The nine-time Xfinity Series victor and 13-time truck series winner has clear and obvious talent. Nemechek has contended for wins and championships in the lower divisions of NASCAR. His reboot will take place with Legacy Motor Club. He'll pilot the team's No. 42 Toyota and be paired with crew chief, Ben Beshore. The duo was together during last season's seven-win Xfinity Series campaign that saw the team finish fourth in the championship points. Familiarity and chemistry are components these two will possess before the green flag waves at Daytona in February. Nemechek has loads of talent but faces some uncertain performance due to this team's current challenges and transition of manufacturers.         
  28. Corey Lajoie – He signed a multi-year extension with Spire Motorsports last season and will remain in the No. 7 Chevrolet for the foreseeable future. Lajoie returns to a team completely intact that is basically a satellite Hendrick Motorsports operation. The veteran driver's two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes plus 25th-place finish in the points were all career-high marks last year. The 20.8 average finish was also another career-best. The 32-year-old will look to build on those marks in the upcoming season and improve in areas where he's weak. As for strengths, Lajoie has always impressed in superspeedway competition. Talladega and Daytona yielded two of his three Top 10's last season, and he seems to be continually improving with his road course performance.
  29. Todd Gilliland – This will be season three for Gilliland at Front Row Motorsports. His previous two campaigns in the No. 38 Ford showed some gradual improvement. Gilliland nabbed four Top-10 finishes last year and finished 28th in the final driver standings. While his gains were only modest, he still earned another year in the team's Ford Mustang. His future at Front Row will likely hinge on this season. He'll once again be paired with crew chief, Ryan Bergenty. Gilliland needs to find more Top 10's, whittle down his 22.0 average finish and look to penetrate the Top 25 in the driver standings in 2024. Those are all attainable goals and likely ones that he'll need to complete to earn more seat time at Front Row Motorsports. As long as Michael McDowell continues to perform well in the team's other Ford, the bar will be set pretty high for Gilliland.   
  30. Harrison Burton – Burton performed well enough in 2023 to earn another season in the Wood Brothers Racing Ford. While the campaign fell short of this team's recent past standards, it was good enough to get another season for Burton. He grabbed two Top-10 finishes and ranked 31st in the driver standings at season's end. The 24.7 average finish was up a couple spots over his 22.8 average finish in 2022. That's regression Burton would like to reverse in the upcoming season. His best tracks to this point have been the bigger ovals, and his short track racing has not been bad. The big weakness has been intermediate oval racing and road circuits. Unfortunately, those two style tracks make up a bulk of the Cup Series schedule and will need to be solved if Burton is to make any progress in 2024.      
  31. Daniel Hemric – While Hemric is being promoted to full-time Cup Series action in 2024, this will not be his first cup of coffee in NASCAR's top division. He has 47 starts spread over a window from 2017 to 2022. Hemric has only earned three Top-10 finishes in those starts because of small team/challenged situations. His signing with Kaulig means that he gets a true, full campaign with steady team support. Hemric replaces the departed Justin Haley in the team's No. 31 Chevrolet. This team earned six Top-10 finishes and wound up 26th-place in the final points under Haley's guidance last season. Hemric will be challenged to equal those marks in the upcoming campaign as this is his first meaningful Cup Series action since 2022. He was a journeyman driver in the Xfinity Series for six years, earning one victory and 104 Top-10 finishes in his 186 starts. While Hemric's resume isn't overly impressive it is flush with experience and should help Kaulig's No. 31 team to grow given some time.  
  32. Ty Dillon – At the time of this writing Dillon is a free agent driver. He parted ways with Spire Motorsports at the end of the 2023 season and will now look to secure whatever seat time he can in the upcoming campaign. He's been rumored to a number of different teams that employ driver rotations to fill out their season. It looks like Dillon could be poised to run something short of the full 36-slate of races. Last year was a struggle with Spire in the team's No. 77 Chevrolet. He'd crack the Top 15 just twice during the season and finish at distant 32nd-place in the final driver standings. Dillon is a veteran of 238 Cup Series starts, but he has very little to show for over his 10-season driving career at NASCAR's top level. He'll be challenged to find quality seat time in 2024.
  33. Justin Haley – The young driver signed a multi-year deal with Rick Ware Racing last July and will drive the team's No. 51 Ford full-time in 2024. Haley departed Kaulig Racing after three full seasons at NASCAR's top level and a best mark of 22nd-place in the driver standings during that time. He'll have a lot to prove with this challenged RWR stable. This team has never had a car finish better than 28th-place in the owner points, and they are more often found in the mid-30's in the standings most seasons. Between 12 different drivers RWR only nabbed two Top-10 finishes all of last season. Haley has skills, of that there is no doubt. He has the potential to lift this team in the standings, but faces a lot of headwinds to make that happen. It could be a very challenging first season for this young driver with this race team.  
  34. Zane Smith – Smith makes the jump over the Xfinity Series and straight from trucks into the Cup Series in 2024. Spire Motorsports is expanding to three teams in the upcoming campaign and they've signed Smith to pilot the new No. 71 Chevrolet. The 24-year-old talent has nabbed nine victories, one championship and two runner-up points finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series. Those near-100 starts have yielded a lot of accomplishments and hardware for the trophy case. Smith has nine Cup Series starts to his credit with eight of them coming in some part-time duty last season. He's not completely unfamiliar with a Cup car and that's a good thing. Smith even earned a surprising Top-10 finish with Front Row Motorsports in the Coca-Cola 600 last season. He'll make a bid for Rookie of the Year in 2024, but will face some challenges to give Josh Berry much competition competing with this new race team.    
  35. Carson Hocevar – Spire Motorsports has tabbed not one, but two rookie drivers to form their three-car team in 2024. Hocevar makes the jump from truck straight into NASCAR's top division, much like his teammate, Zane Smith. He'll pilot the team's more established No. 77 entry and be paired with crew chief, Luke Lambert. Hocevar marched to four victories and a fourth-place finish in last season's truck series points and impressed many in the process. He also worked in nine Cup Series starts, mainly in relief driver duty with Legacy Motor Club. That experience will serve him well making this transition in series in 2024. Those efforts yielded a top finish of 11th-place in the late-season Bristol race. Much like his teammate Smith who is making the same mammoth jump, Hocevar will face some challenges to perform and develop in the very competitive Cup Series in the upcoming season.  
  36. J.J. Yeley – Yeley's 2023 plans have not been announced at the time of this writing. The veteran driver spent most of last season floating between Rick Ware Racing's two entries and managed to start 26 of the 36 Cup Series events. The results were pretty thin with Yeley only managing one Top-10 and two Top-15 finishes. While RWR has only named Justin Haley as the full-time driver of the No. 51 Ford in 2024, Yeley could be a part of a patchwork of drivers who fill the seat of the No. 15 Ford. That means he could be in store for another campaign of part-time action. Yeley is a veteran of 19 years of Cup Series action and 378 starts in NASCAR's top division. While his results for that time have been few, he does provide this small race team with the experience they need to compete in the backend of the field.      
  37. AJ Allmendinger – Allmendinger shifts from full-time Cup Series driver to full-time Xfinity Series driver in 2024. He'll still make a handful of Cup starts in a part-time schedule for Kaulig Racing in the No. 16 Chevrolet. Allmendinger is coming off a one-win, seven Top-10 finish campaign in this same car last season. The ability to perform will be present, especially on superspeedways and road circuits. Those were his two most successful tracks last season and really throughout his career. Allmendinger has been announced as starting the Daytona 500, but no other dates have been announced at the time of this writing. He'll be a streaming fantasy option in most weekly lineup leagues due to his veteran experience and skill with this very capable race team.
  38. Shane van Gisbergen – The Supercars champion burst onto the scene and became an immediate sensation with his start on the Chicago Street Course last summer. Van Gisbergen would take the lead from Justin Haley and lead the final 8 laps in challenging conditions on a challenging circuit. He would grab the victory in his only Cup Series start to that point. To prove that was no fluke, van Gisbergen would follow that performance up with a strong 10th-place finish on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit a few weeks later. The veteran driver really impressed Trackhouse Racing and earned a driver development contract for 2024. Van Gisbergen will run the full Xfinity Series schedule in addition to seven Cup Series starts. While his experience with ovals is on the light side, he's a world class road course driver. He will be very impactful in those particular starts as he starts his NASCAR development journey.    
  39. Jimmie Johnson – The seven-time champion's return to NASCAR would only make three starts last season with the new Legacy Motor Club before a personal family tragedy would sideline Johnson the remainder of the year at mid-season. He looks to return to action (part-time) in 2024 with the team's No. 84 Chevrolet. Johnson's exact schedule and number of starts have not been announced at the time of this writing, but we do know of at least three starts (Texas, Charlotte and Kansas) due to some sponsorship disclosures. The veteran driver was having difficulty adjusting to the new Cup Series car last year before he'd have to step out last July. His three starts all ended with DNF's, so Johnson has a lot to prove in terms of performance in the upcoming season.                      
  40. David Ragan – Ragan had been a part-time driver since his retirement at the end of 2019. However, he took a year off from competition in 2023 to recharge his batteries. Ragan returns to part-time racing in 2024, but this time with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. He'll pilot the team's No. 60 Ford in a limited schedule that has yet to be announced at the time of this writing. Ragan had been tackling just the superspeedway events over the past few seasons, and to good effect. He nabbed two Top-10 finishes in four starts for former boss Rick Ware in 2022. Ragan is a skilled superspeedway performer, so we're certain that will be a big part of his focus in the upcoming season. He presents good fantasy value as a streaming option in weekly lineup leagues during those superspeedway events. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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