Spade Racing’s 2024 Season Previews: A School of Thought PART 1 Cup Drivers

It’s a 4-part preview for the 2024 season as Nascar goes “back to school”.

1.) Cup Series Driver Preview: The 36 Types of Drivers

2.) Cup Series Team Rankings: Making the Grade

3.) Xfinity Series Team & Driver Preview: Breaking Down the Class

4.) Truck Series Team & Driver Preview: Jocks to Watch

All information is as accurate as possible at time of writing—drivers, sponsors, owners, and bad jokes subject to change.

The Nascar Cup Series is seeing a sea-change in its status quo, with former “young guns” establishing themselves as savvy veterans before our eyes.  So much like a typical overcrowded high school classroom—and with apologies to Life in Hell—let’s break down the 36 full-time (or close to it) drivers in the 2024 season.

Predicted Regular Season Finish Car #—Driver (Team) Top Sponsors: Spiel, Who He Is

(Chevy, Ford, Toyota)

William Byron
#1. 24—William Byron (Hendrick) Raptor/Axalta, Liberty U:  Six wins last season finally established Dub-B as a true Nascar superstar—now he just needs a championship to ice it.  And, preferably, a less-problematic school sponsoring him. Who He Is: Mr. Popular

#2. 12—Ryan Blaney (Penske) Menards, BodyArmor:  The king of the quiet races and seasons snuck up on a championship last year, and nothing shows any evidence of him slowing down—even his facial hair crept up on us. Who He Is: Quiet Kid Who Gets Into Harvard on a Scholarship

#3. 20—Christopher Bell (Gibbs) DeWalt, Rheem:  Ding.  Dong.  Ding.  Dong.  Hear that?  Its the changing of the guard at Joe Gibbs Racing. Who He Is: Younger Brother of a Really Popular Kid who Becomes Popular and Successful in his own Right.

#4. 5—Kyle Larson (Hendrick) HendrickCars, Valvoline:  Back from controversy with a plum ride and, let’s be honest, the most iron-clad sponsorship in racing, unless Mr. H develops multiple personalities. Who He Is: Valedictorian.

#5. 9—Chase Elliott (Hendrick) Napa, Unifirst:  Don’t call it a comeback, but 2024 will be Chase’s return to victory lane, multiple times.  So, uh, I guess that’s a comeback. Who He Is: Guy Who Nearly Failed Out Last Year who Returns with Nearly Straight-A’s.

#6. 22—Joey Logano (Penske) Pennzoil, Hunt Brothers:  He wins, he contends, and he irritates people.  Yeah, we all knew a guy like that in high school, didn’t we? Who He Is: Squeaky-Clean Dude Other Parents Compare their Kids To.

#7. 48—Alex Bowman (Hendrick) Ally:  Back from injury to return to race wins as the Hendrick brigade goes on. Who He Is: Guy who Comes Back from Broken Leg to win Athlete of the Year (also Kid Who Wears Same Shirt Every Day).

Denny Hamlin
#8. 11—Denny Hamlin (Gibbs) FedEx, Interstate:  Whether good, bad, or just crazy, Denny always seems to be at the center of it, doesn’t he?  He’s like Jimmy Spencer but talented. Who He Is: Mr. Drama.

#9. 1—Ross Chastain (Trackhouse) Busch Light, Jockey:  The Trackhouse team keeps getting stronger and Ross is the main beneficiary.  Oh, and he raises watermelons. Who He Is: 4-H Club President.

#10. 8—Kyle Busch (RCR) Cheddars, Lucas:  Is RCR back or is Austin Dillon really just that bad?  In a word, YES. Who He Is: More-Successful Best Friend of The School’s Richest Kid.

#11. 54—Ty Gibbs (Gibbs) Interstate, Monster:  Ty Gibbs gets a lot of crap, but I see this as the year for his first win AND establishing himself as a regular contender.  I guess you could say, I Get Him. Who He Is: Most Improved Student.

#12. 45—Tyler Reddick (23XI) The Beast Unleashed, Jordan:  Arguably the only thing holding T-Red back is the fact that he races for a satellite team.  Hey, he’s just like… Who He Is: That One Kid Who Lives Like a Half Hour Drive from the School.

#13. 17—Chris Buescher (RFK) Fastenal, FifthThird:  Last year was the breakout season.  This year he’ll win, but it’ll be a struggle otherwise. Who He Is: Guy Working on One Project All Year Long in Shop Class (turns out its a submarine).

#14. 6—Brad Keselowski (RFK) Castrol, Solomon’s:  A better year for his own team, but he’s still winless.  On the plus side there’s all those weird social media awards RFK always wins. Who He Is: Future Business Leaders of America President.

#15. 23—Bubba Wallace (23XI) Dr Pepper, McDonalds:  Look, I am sick and tired of all the Bubba Wallace hate.  Why are people so prejudiced against people who happen to not like green olives? Who He Is: Guy Who Doesn’t Like Green Olives.

Chase Briscoe

#16. 14—Chase Briscoe (SHR) Mahindra, HighPoint:  Stewart-Haas is definitely in a slump, but Chase sneaks his way out of a crowded field to make the playoffs on points., Who He Is: Dude with Brother in Foreign Exchange Program in England and/or Italy.

#17. 19—Martin Truex Jr. (Gibbs) Bass Pro, Auto-Owners:  He just barely misses out on a playoff berth.  Then, perhaps, retirement? Who He Is: Guy who Shows up in Full-Camo.

#18. 99—Daniel Suarez (Trackhouse) WWX, Kubota:  Another close call with the playoffs for the man of many sponsors. Who He Is: Foreign Exchange Student.

#19. 3—Austin Dillon (RCR) Dow, Bass Pro:  A spirited run to a near-miss at the playoffs helps some forget that he is regularly outperformed by his teammate. Who He Is: Cowboy hat wearer who drives a foreign car.

#20. 4—Josh Berry (R) (SHR) ???:  Stewart-Haas is in trouble, but some past Cup experience helps the Berry Man win Rookie of the Year. Who He Is: The New Kid.

#21. 2—Austin Cindric (Penske) Discount Tire, Menards:  A year of mediocre performances but hey, at least he can get you a great discount on a furnace. Who He Is: Kid who Works Full-Time at the Nearest Hardware Store.

Zane Smith

#22. 71—Zane Smith (R) (Spire) WeatherTech, ???:  There’s always that one driver who keeps posting finishes from about 15th-20th every week, isn’t there? Who He Is: Anonymous Guy who Actually DOES have a Girlfriend at Another School.

#23. 21—Harrison Burton (Wood Bros.) Motorcraft, QuickLane:  Not much of anything to say here, really. Who He Is: Dude you see Every Day but Can’t Remember his Name.

#24. 41—Ryan Preece (SHR) Haas, Haas Tooling:  Unfortunately he’ll still be best-known for last year’s Daytona crash. Who He Is: Guy Recuperating from Car Crash Last Summer.

#25. 42—John Hunter Nemechek (Legacy) Family Dollar, Allegiant:  Legacy continues to struggle, but at least they have two veterans driving full-time now. Who He Is: Kid who Moved Away Two Years ago…but now He’s Back.

#26. 43—Erik Jones (Legacy) Dollar Tree, Advent Health:  Another tough year but its still better than running JGR leftovers.  Oh, wait… Who He Is: That One Guy Who’s Really into One Band.

#27. 34—Michael McDowell (Front Row) Love’s, SpeedCo:  After coming close to a road course win, its back to mediocrity and small wins at FRM. Who He Is: Oldest Kid in Class.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

#28. 47—Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG-D) Kroger, what Kroger sells:  He’s still by far the best driver JTG-D has running this year.  Um, unless he’s fired. Who He Is: Kid Who’s Already an Assistant Manager at the Grocery Store.

#29. 10—Noah Gragson (SHR) ???:  It’ll be an uphill battle for The Grag, but at least he seemed to have learned his lesson. Who He Is: Reform School Transfer.

#30. 77—Carson Hocevar (R) (Spire) Zeigler, ???:  He impressed in a substitute role last year, but running full-time for a lower-level team is another thing altogether. Who He Is: Friendly Guy with Unpronounceable Last Name.

#31. 31—Daniel Hemric (Kaulig) LeafFilter, Celsius:  Seriously, how did he even get this ride? Who He Is: Rich Kid with Nice Car and Cool Clothes.

#32. 51—Justin Haley (RWR) FOE, ???:  They have an alliance with RFK, which is nice. Who He Is: Winner of the 2019 Spelling Bee.

Corey Lajoie

#33. 7—Corey Lajoie (Spire) Celsius, Gainbridge:  He’s a funny guy, but he’s just not there with on-track performance. Who He Is: Class Clown.

#34. 16—Dinger & Co (Kaulig) ???:  This car will likely be piloted by AJ Allendinger at plate tracks and road courses and whoever can bring sponsorship elsewhere. Who He Is: Twins who Run in Different Social Circles.

#35. 15—Mostly Kaz Grala (RWR) ???:  …and if they can’t afford to get a race with Kaulig, they’ll run THIS car. Who He Is: Four or Five People you Constantly Confuse for Each Other.

#36. 38—Todd Gilli-something (Front Whatever) Speed etc., Who Cares:  If he holds onto this ride all year I’ll be surprised. Who He Is: Kid who just Moved Away. updated four times weekly

Visit the store

Buy the book 100 Stock Car Racing What Ifs Unauthorized

Does this track have lights?

A MOXOC Media production