With the NASCAR Cup season-opening Daytona 500 right around the corner, it’s time for predictions regarding the 2024 season. They involve everything from Ford’s and Toyota’s new cars to which drivers will be in contention for the series championship. In a Leap Year with a Cup season that has an unusual two-week break for the Summer Olympics, there will definitely be some surprises due to the schedule.
The 30thn Brickyard race returns to the 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis, Iowa Speedway makes its debut in NASCAR’s premier series, and the Chicago Street Course race returns. Also, for the first time since the current playoff format was adopted the regular season will end Labor Day weekend at Darlington and the playoffs will begin at Atlanta.
And, if our predictions come true (and why wouldn't they), a case can be made for maybe as many as 21 different race winners vying for the 16 Playoff spots—now wouldn't that be fun!
A boring season isn’t in the cards.
Advantage Chevrolet on Short Tracks
Even though this is the third year for Chevrolet with its current Camaro, don’t expect the General Motors brand to have the upper hand over Ford’s new Dark Horse Mustang and Toyota’s Camry XSE.
Even though the two new cars may have a few issues to work out at the beginning of the season, each car’s character lines should channel air flow in a way that will benefit them on the intermediate tracks and superspeedways. However, Chevrolet will have the advantage on the short tracks.
One Ford engineer admits that if they had known NASCAR’s new short-track package ahead of time there are a few things they would have done differently on the new Mustang.
Team Penske: No Repeat for Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney produced his second consecutive multi-race winning season in 2023 and will turn in a repeat performance in 2024. However, it won’t be good enough for a second consecutive championship.
Blaney will make the playoffs, but he will be eliminated before the championship four are determined. It will be a Team Penske teammate that will keep him from repeating.
Hendrick Motorsports: At Least 2 Wins for Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott will return to victory lane.
After a frustrating season due to a snowboarding accident that sidelined him for six weeks with a broken leg. Then a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600, the Dawsonville, Ga., driver experienced his first winless season since 2017.
This year Elliott will rebound with at least two victories.
William Byron and Kyle Larson combined for 10 victories last year and both Hendrick divers made it to the championship four. They will once again be Hendrick’s top performers this season, but only one of them will make it to the season finale at Phoenix as a title contender.
Alex Bowman would prefer to forget 2023. Not only did he experience his first winless Cup season since 2018, he also missed three races due to a broken back he suffered in a Sprint Car race. This year Bowman will remain healthy, but winless.
Joe Gibbs Racing: All 4 Cars Will Make the Playoffs
Ty Gibbs (pictured) did exactly what he should have done in his first full-time season in Cup, he used it as a learning year. However, he also showed why his second full-time season in Cup will bring him his first victory in the series. Last year, Gibbs recorded four top-five and 10-top finishes and led 112 laps.
Martin Truex Jr. struggled in the playoffs last year after winning the regular season championship. Inconsistency will plague his team once again this year. He will visit victory lane, but he won’t be a title contender.
Denny Hamlin will win a couple of the Crown Jewel races, but he will once again fall short of that elusive series championship.
Christopher Bell will win a race and make the playoffs, but no championship crown in his future this year.
23XI Racing: Tyler Reddick Will Return to Championship 4
This year, 23XI Racing is in its new state-of-the-art facility, but it’s the experience Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace take into 2024 that will make the difference.
Reddick will win two races again this season and make it into the championship four. He made it into the Round of 8 last year but was eliminated from the title run at Homestead.
Wallace made it into the playoffs last year via points, but this year it will be a victory that carries him into the title run.
RFK Racing: Wins for Both Keselowski, Buescher
Even though Brad Keselowski failed to win a Cup race for the second straight year in 2023, with his consistency and Chris Buescher’s three victories in the regular season, both drivers reached the playoffs.
This year, in Keselowski’s third year as co-owner, he and Buescher will visit victory lane.
Trackhouse Racing: Ross Chastain Slips a Notch
Ever since the current NASCAR Cup car was introduced in 2022, Ross Chastain has won two races annually. He will win again in 2024, but only one event.
After a frustrating, winless 2023 season, Daniel Suarez and his new crew chief will produce Suarez’s second Cup victory.
Trackhouse Racing’s alliance with Spire Motorsports has Zane Smith driving his first full-time Cup season in a car fielded by Spire Motorsports. The 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion won’t win a race in his rookie Cup season.
Shane van Gisbergen is driving in seven Cup races this year. Don’t expect him to be a repeat winner in the Cup race on the Chicago Street Course. His full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is with Kaulig Racing.
Stewart-Haas Racing: Another Winless Season
Rebuilding years are always tough and with SHR’s drivers averaging 30 years old, the Kannapolis, N.C-based operation finds itself in that type of season.
Josh Berry, 33, moves from Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to Ford in Cup, succeeding retired NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick.
After a suspension last year for an inappropriate post on social media, 25-year-old Noah Gragson returns to Cup, replacing Aric Almirola, who chose to compete part-time in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Of SHR’s other two drivers, 29-year-old Chase Briscoe and 33-year-old Ryan Preece, Briscoe is the only one with a Cup victory. His win came in 2022 at Phoenix.
A rebuilding year, coupled with a new car translates into another winless season for SHR.
Richard Childress Racing: Kyle Busch Makes in 20 in a Row
Kyle Busch will keep his victory streak alive, making 2024 his 20th consecutive season with at least one win. He will make it into the Round of 8 in this year’s playoffs.
Since 2018, Austin Dillon has demonstrated a pattern of winning a race in even numbered years and going winless in odd numbered years. It sounds crazy, but Dillon will return to victory lane this year. However, RCR’s title hopes rest with Busch.
Front Row Motorsports: Todd Gilliland Gets Upset Win, Playoff Berth
When it comes to road courses and superspeedway, Michael McDowell can always pull off a surprise victory. However, don’t expect to see McDowell in victory lane this year. He won the road course at Indianapolis last year and that event is gone from the schedule this year. The Indianapolis event is back on the oval.
Todd Gilliland’s only top-five finish in two years of Cup racing came on the same road course. However, don’t be surprised if Gilliland pulls off an upset win at Iowa Speedway.
JTG-Daugherty Racing: No Wins in 2024
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will give JTG Daugherty Racing its best shot at victory in the superspeedway races. However, the single-car team will fall short of securing a win this season.
Kaulig Racing: Win from a Surprising Source
For the first time since 2019, Daniel Hemric (pictured) will compete full time in the Cup Series.
However, it will be part-time entrant A.J. Allmendinger who will secure a road course victory for the second straight year and the third time in the last four years.
Hemric will end the season still winless in the Cup Series.
Spire Motorsports: Corey LaJoie a Win and Playoffs
During the last five years, Corey LaJoie has sniffed at victory lane, but this year he will secure his first Cup win thanks to Spire Motorsports’ expansion.
This year, Spire is operating three Cup and three Craftsman Truck Series teams out of the Mooresville, N.C., shop that once housed Kyle Busch Motorsports. Spire purchased KBM’s truck operation late last year as well as the facility that housed it.
LaJoie’s teammate Carson Hocevar will struggle in his rookie Cup season as he learns the nuances of racing in NASCAR’s premier series.
Zane Smith’s inaugural full-time NASCAR Cup season is in a Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, but his multi-year deal is with Trackhouse Racing.
Legacy Motor Club: Big Things Ahead at LMC
With a new approach and a new manufacturer, Erik Jones and John Hunter Nemechek will each win a race this year.
After the team announced early in 2023 it would be a Toyota operation in 2024, Chevrolet shut the organization’s drivers out of its tech center and halted the flow of information to the team. That won’t be an issue this year.
Both Legacy drivers are quite familiar with Toyota protocol. Jones was a Toyota camp member 2013-2020. Nemechek has been with Toyota since 2021.
Wood Brothers Racing: Burton Close, But No Cigar
Since joining NASCAR’s Cup Series full time in 2022, Harrison Burton has struggled with consistency. In two years, he has produced only one top-five finish. That came in his rookie season and last year was dismal as well as he had only two top-10 finishes and a dozen in the top 20.
He won’t give the Wood Brothers team its 100th victory this season, but he will consistently finish in the top 15.
Rick Ware Racing: Growth, but No Wins
With full-time driver Justin Haley and part-time competitor Kaz Grala, Rick Ware Racing is taking a step in the right direction. However, a victory isn’t in the cards for this team in 2024.
2024 Cup Champion Will Be... Joey Logano
Joey Logano will claim his third NASCAR Cup championship in 2024.
His anger at being eliminated from last year’s playoffs in the first round will fuel his passion to give Roger Penske his third consecutive Cup title.
Logano may have a sluggish start until he becomes accustomed to Ford’s new Dark Horse Mustang, but his team will peak when it counts.