Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing Team, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
With three top free agents having already announced multi-year contract extensions with their current NASCAR Cup Series teams, is silly season already over?
After a chaotic NASCAR Cup Series silly season for 2023 throughout the 2022 campaign, things looked like they could be equally as crazy for 2024 throughout the 2023 season, with so many good drivers without contracts beyond the end of the year.
But even before the 2023 season got underway, three of those drivers have already signed multi-year contract extensions to remain with their current teams.
Trackhouse Racing Team re-signed Daniel Suarez, who had originally signed a one-year extension last summer to stay behind the wheel of the No. 99 Chevrolet in 2023, to a multi-year extension, and they re-signed Ross Chastain to a multi-year extension to keep him behind the wheel of the No. 1 Chevrolet “long-term”.
Suarez joined the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned team when they entered the Cup Series in 2021. Chastain joined the organization last year after they acquired Chip Ganassi Racing and expanded to two cars.
Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports announced a multi-year contract extension for Alex Bowman, who had been the only one of the team’s four drivers without a deal to compete through at least 2025.
Bowman, who was under contract through 2023, is now signed through 2026, with Ally Financial having also signed to continue serving as the primary sponsor of the No. 48 Chevrolet through 2028. Bowman has competed full-time for Rick Hendrick’s team since 2018.
Given the fact that three of the sport’s top pending free agents have already re-signed with their current teams, is NASCAR Cup Series silly season already over?
While it’s far from over, given the fact that there are still openings at some of the sport’s top teams, it doesn’t appear that there will be nearly as many changes as we saw this past offseason.
The key opening is at Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick has already announced that the 2023 season will be his last, leaving the No. 4 Ford without a driver for next year. There is a chance that Stewart-Haas Racing could have two open seats if Aric Almirola, who initially planned to retire last year, decides to hang it up this time around.
Joe Gibbs Racing also face some uncertainty. Martin Truex Jr. contemplated retirement last year, but he ultimately decided to return. Will he make the same decision this year? Then there is Denny Hamlin, whose longtime primary sponsor, FedEx, has not yet committed to 2024. Could he end up in a situation like that of Kyle Busch with MM’s last year?
The other top teams, including Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Trackhouse Racing Team, Richard Childress Racing, Legacy Motor Club, and 23XI Racing, all appear pretty much set, though there is always a chance for a surprise move (or expansion, in the case of some of the smaller teams).
For the most part, it appears that this year’s silly season will be rather mundane compared to last year’s. But that’s also what we said last year.