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.
There’s about as many full-time Xfinity drivers to make up an entire overcrowded class in high school. But what if we broke them up by skills, proficiency, and how much they’re being helped by their parents? Because if there’s one thing public schools do well, it's preparing kids for the caste system of society.
Chevrolet Ford Toyota
# DRIVER (team) Drivers in Italics are Rookies
GIFTED & TALENTED: THE SMARTEST OF THE SMARTEST KIDS, THE WINNINGEST OF THE WINNINGEST DRIVERS
00 COLE CUSTER (Stewart-Haas) Last year’s champion rebuilt his career with a trio of wins, including one in the championship finale. Will he make it back to Cup? That likely depends on sponsorship, but I hope he does, as Nascar could always do with a 00 in the Cup Series (ok, ok, I just want another Buckshot Jones throwback scheme).
1 SAM MAYER (JR Motorsports) 2023 was a breakout year for Mayer, who posted his first four Xfinity Series race wins. This could be the year he shows if he is worthy of being poached by the Wood Brothers for Cup, or if he’s merely a lowly Front Row Motorsports poaching-candidate.
21 AUSTIN HILL (RCR) Last year was another solid season for Hill, but can he make “the leap” to be a TRUE championship contender? Well, considering how much he seemed to loathe his teammate, I’d say “yes”.
16 AJ ALLMENDINGER (Kaulig) The Dinger is back in the Xfinity Series! Was it a raw deal that he lost his full-time Cup ride? Well, considering that he still gets to do something most of us only dream of, merely at a slightly lesser-level, I’d say “nah”.
8 SAMMY SMITH (JR Motorsports) The Double-S moves from Joe Gibbs Racing to JR Motorsports, Pilot/Flying J sponsorship in tow. Yes, it’s “tow”, not “toe”, unless his sponsorship was for some kind of nail fungus removal cream.
STANDARD: GOOD KIDS TRYING THEIR BEST, GOOD DRIVERS TRYING THEIR BEST
81 CHANDLER SMITH (Joe Gibbs) He REALLY wanted out of Kaulig Racing, and he got his with. Now we’re left with two important questions: Can Smith prove he’s worthy of racing for a team that could get him a coveted top-flight Cup ride down the line, and will he run a Kenny Wallace FILMAR Racing throwback paint scheme?
9 BRANDON JONES (JR Motorsports) A winless year looks bad for any driver with experience, but even worse when you’re on arguably the best team in the series. On the plus side, he’ll still get to make stilted Menards commercials with Dale Jr.
48 PARKER KLIGERMAN (Big Machine) Big Machine is a single-car team, but they DO have an alliance with RCR (they’re even based on the RCR campus in Welcome) and Parker’s shown he can win in the right situation. And if he doesn’t, he can always go back to talking about IndyCar on TV…for some reason.
2 JESSE LOVE (RCR) Jesse Love lit up the ARCA series last year, and will get a great situation this year in the always-stout RCR Xfinity program. And most importantly of all, he seems to come from money (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
97 SHANE VAN GISBERGEN (Kaulig/Trackhouse) SVG has a tall order to fill in 2024—proving he was not just a one-race wonder while making his full-season US debut AND adjusting to a brand-new country. Hey, SVG—when in doubt, order a la carte and bring your own soda with you, they won’t kick you out!
LEG-UP: KIDS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE, DRIVERS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE
27 JEB BURTON (JAR) Jeb’s shown he can compete when he has good enough equipment—unfortunately those opportunities have been few and far between. At least he probably has lots of old MBNA t-shirts to wear.
11 JOSH WILLIAMS (Kaulig) Its a BIG step-up in equipment from DGM to Kaulig for Dale Jr’s favorite competitor. But he COULD prove the doubters wrong just like Landon Cas--er, scratch that one.
31 PARKER RETZLAFF (JAR) Parker’s shown he can compete for top-tens, but his equipment may be holding him back from competing for wins. On the plus side, running for Jordan Anderson means PLENTY of fawning press releases.
5 ANTHONY ALFREDO (Our Motorsports) The Our team is likely stuck in the mid-pack, but with the right situation (fuel mileage gamble, rain threat, etc.) Double-A could challenge for a win. And now I want pasta.
98 RILEY HERBST (Stewart-Haas) He is what he is.
REMEDIAL: THE KINDS OF STUDENTS YOU SEE IN TUTORING ADS, THE KINDS OF DRIVERS YOU SEE IN 28TH PLACE
THE RSS TRIO (28 KYLE SIEG, 29 BLAINE PERKINS, 39 RYAN SIEG) You can throw a blanket over these three, which includes The Official Underdog of Nascar. Not much to say here except I hope they have some strong runs and I hope they’re not run into by Riley Herbst.
51 JEREMY CLEMENTS (Clements) This family-owned car HAS won before, but mostly runs near the back. Its like a heart-warming father and son story, if the son was in his thirties and still struggling.
43 RYAN ELLIS (Alpha Prime) & 44 BRENNAN POOLE (Alpha Prime) The Alpha Prime cars seem to blend together, both on and off the track. Its great to see a new-ish team competing on a full-time basis with multiple drivers, and I hope they can do their Petty-esque numbers right (Pettys in the 1960s, not now).
4 DAWSON CRAM (JD Motorsports) I dunno, I just miss those red FlexSeal cars.
42 LELAND HONEYMAN (Young’s) The Young’s team is making a go of it in the Xfinity Series…and that’s about all I know about this situation.
91 KYLE WEATHERMAN (DGM) This year’s forecast? How about we stop all the lame weather man jokes for a while.
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