Our NASCAR predictions are locked in for the 2024 Cup Series season. Who will win, who will fall short, and what is there to come?
NASCAR Cup Series action kicks off its 76th season with this weekend’s annual Busch Light Clash exhibition race. For a third consecutive year, the series will make its return to the makeshift Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum quarter-mile in the populous California city. The race will take place on Sunday, February 4th on FOX for cable viewers and on both MRN and Sirius XM for radio listeners.
Many storylines look to carry over from the 2023 season. Ryan Blaney will aim to become the first back-to-back NASCAR Champion since Jimmie Johnson’s fourth and fifth consecutive in 2009 and 2010. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin targets his first title as he enters his 19th full-time season. Rookies bring their packed potential as Josh Berry, Carson Hocevar, and Zane Smith aspire for success amongst the world’s greatest talents. Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, and John Hunter Nemechek return to the organization’s pinnacle league. A driver like Martin Truex Jr. enters a season that could be his final. Teams like Stewart-Haas Racing and Wood Brothers Racing hope for massive rebounds as RFK Racing and 23XI Racing intend to back up last year’s upward trajectory.
It is time for wonder, speculation, and forecast for what is to come. Some of the following predictions are bold, and some predictions are not. Certain will have you shaking your head while others will have your approval.
Here are twenty NASCAR predictions for the 2024 Cup Series season.
1. The final Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles.
Too much of a good thing can see its downfall. The Los Angeles market may be sturdy, but the initial restriction of racing action to fans was a sour one that should not have occurred from the get-go. The series will continue its push for new fans, but a new avenue will be explored as this weekend sees the final Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The door can open for a chance at regional short tracks or a different venue in a populous city to showcase the NASCAR Cup Series.
2. Chase Elliott wins Daytona 500.
A leg injury, race suspension, playoff absence, and winless season made Chase Elliott’s 2023 a thing of the past. Following a shoulder surgery in mid-November and a fresh break in the off-season, the 2020 Cup Series Champion will make a bang in the seasonal opener at Daytona International Speedway by claiming the 66th running of the Great American Race. Elliott has yet to win at Daytona in Cup, but he did find victory 2016 Xfinity Series opener.
3. Trends of Ryan Blaney.
Netflix’s “NASCAR: Full Speed” docuseries released on January 30th featuring nine drivers contesting for last year’s title. Ryan Blaney, the defending Series Champion, will have a large part in the feature with victories and memorable mic’d-up moments. His personality will be one to resonate with younger viewing audiences, and his trends on social media will take a significant boost making the once-timid driver a breakout star for the sport. Additionally, 2024 will come with multiple wins and another run at the Championship.
4. A breakout season for Ty Gibbs.
Last year’s “Rookie of the Year,” 21-year-old Ty Gibbs, found his groove in the second half of the season with strong runs at Watkins Glen International, Bristol Motor Speedway, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. This year will see not only his first Series victory but two or more as the future Champion continues his craft to excellence.
5. Gibbs vs. Busch II.
Although the aforementioned Ty Gibbs will see an increase in speed and performance, the positional step will bring out his aggressive racing style. Feathers, at times, were ruffled last year between him and then-Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch, who returns for his second season with Richard Childress Racing. The two at different career stages and close competitiveness on track could turn the pairing into a classic rivalry.
6. Viewership stability.
Last year saw 28 of 38 NASCAR Cup Series weekends take a decline in viewership from the 2022 calendar year. Additionally, the Series saw a decline of 3.7% across the overall season. Whether marred by rain, Chase Elliott’s playoff absence, cable declines, or other various factors, 2023 will have some needed positives. The Netflix documentary, the return to the Chicago Street Course race, the switch from the Indy Oval, and Iowa Speedway’s debut are some hopeful changes to help the number game.
7. Rick Ware Racing uptick.
Last year, Rick Ware Racing signed former Kaulig Racing driver Justin Haley to a multi-year deal. Also signed for a part-time schedule is Kaz Grala, and another driver or more will be shared with the second full-time charter. Will they find victory? Likely not, but their consistency and seasoned racing experience will add a sturdy layer to the company as they continue their organizational efforts.
8. Hailie Deegan makes Series debut.
Hailie Deegan will start her first full-time season in the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season driving AM Racing’s No. 15 Ford. The team has a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and shares a manufacturer partnership with the aforementioned Rick Ware Racing. An opportunity in RWR’s second charter for a one-off race could very likely come this year at a track like Talladega Superspeedway or Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
9. Another playoff without Alex Bowman.
A difficult take to write, but Alex Bowman will come up short of the playoffs in 2024. A concussion in late 2022 and a back injury in early 2023 were a partial culprit in weaker statistics having only 15 top ten’s in his last 50 starts. This ranks three and six fewer than Kyle Larson’s and William Byron’s seasons last year, respectively, and ten fewer than Chase Elliott’s last 50 races. Until proven otherwise, and with the competition as tightly contested as ever, the prediction will sadly stay intact.
10. Kyle Larson wins successful Brickyard 400.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval will make its return to the Series schedule for the first time since 2020. After priorly lacking racing product and tire strength, the race will be a massive hit with drivers vying for position and a high-numbered attendance. Kyle Larson, who will finish top five in IndyCar’s historic Indianapolis 500, takes the checkered flag on the NASCAR side.
11. Bubba Wallace returns to victory lane.
Statistics and performance continue to climb for Bubba Wallace. The 23XI driver led a total of 285 laps with a 10th place points finish ranking ahead of Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick. However, the year came without a win as his teammate, Tyler Reddick, found first twice. This year will see Wallace claim his third career win in the Series and his first since the fall Kansas Speedway race in 2022.
12. 23XI Racing’s third entry.
Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan had Travis Pastrana and Kamui Kobayashi make individual starts during the 2023 season. The team will see an expanded schedule of up to six races for the coming year with the return of Kobayashi at a road course. Additional driver predictions include Xfinity Series drivers Aric Almirola, Sheldon Creed, and Chandler Smith. Legacy Motor Club started races with Mike Rockenfeller last year and, with the team’s manufacturer change, could see him driving a Toyota once more. Lastly, if interest is high, Daniel Riccardo will get his chance to drive in NASCAR’s premier league.
13. Ross Chastain’s victorious year.
Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain closed 2023 with a win in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway; his second including a June victory at Nashville Superspeedway. The wheelman will ascend to a five-race winning season in a year that will tie or best that of his competitors. A year it will be as “Melon Man” propels himself to a prime shot at the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
14. One of three Spire drivers makes Playoffs.
Spire Motorsports enters what will be their biggest season yet. Numerous personnel changes, acquiring Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Craftsman Truck Series team, and adding a third full-time Cup Series charter set up what could be a year full of first-times and accomplishments. Corey Lajoie aside rookies Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith bring a powerful lineup of talent, and one of these three will either win a race or point themselves into the 2024 NASCAR Playoffs.
15. Three-time for Erik Jones.
In May of last year, Legacy Motor Club announced their switch of manufacturers to Toyota from Chevrolet. Both Erik Jones and now-teammate John Hunter Nemechek have raced for the OEM and will race under the leadership of seven-time Cup Series Champions Jimmie Johnson and Richard Petty. Although John Hunter Nemechek will go wineless, Erik Jones will find success taking his third Southern 500 and making the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs.
16. International return.
Senior Vice President of Racing Development and Strategy, Ben Kennedy, alongside a team of NASCAR personnel have brought incredible innovation to the sport. Although NASCAR has made prior appearances in different markets, the Cup Series has never seen a points-paying event outside the United States. Rumors quietly turned last year about a possible return to Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a former home to Xfinity Series races. Whether there, another Canadian track, or a race in Mexico, an international market for a points race will be announced for the 2025 season.
17. Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst swap for 2025.
2022 and 2023 saw disappointing results from Wood Brothers Racing. With competition as tight as ever before, and if the statistics do not see better results, Harrison Burton will be released from his tenure as driver of the iconic No. 21 Ford. However, his established relationship with Ford will see a full-time ride in the Xfinity Series with Stewart-Haas Racing, and it will come as a swap with Riley Herbst. The Las Vegas native brings massive sponsorship and continued improvement behind the wheel as change will be needed for the team.
18. A win for SHR.
With Kevin Harvick’s retirement, Josh Berry will take over driving duties of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Also joining the team sees Noah Gragson take over the No. 10 after Aric Almirola’s step away from full-time competition. The two join No. 14 and 41 of Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece, and the group looks for a strong year after a lackluster 2023. Parody through the field is greater than ever, and with various company changes made in the off-season, at least one driver from the quartet will find victory.
19. Martin Truex Jr.’s retirement, JHN’s leap.
Yes, the 50/50 prediction everyone continues to guess. 2017 Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2024 season. With his choices being made on a year-by-year basis, and with prior rumblings of potential retirement, his 19th year of Cup competition will come as his final partaking as a full-time driver in the Series. In turn, the seat will go to John Hunter Nemechek after a single year competing with Legacy Motor Club.
20. Tyler Reddick captures coveted Championship.
A driver marred with mixed luck during last year’s season was Tyler Reddick. Despite nearly matching in statistics from 2022, the former back-to-back Xfinity Series Champion ended the year with two victories and his best points finish of 6th. To wrap up our 2024 NASCAR predictions, Tyler Reddick will best that of team owner and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, and Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott to claim the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Four Bonus Predictions
Brad Keselowski will return to victory lane for the first time since Talladega Superspeedway in April of 2021 and so will teammate Chris Buescher. Last year’s Chicago Street Course victor and Supercars talent Shane van Gisbergen will not win in Cup, but his performances will be consistently strong as he excels in his full-time Xfinity schedule. Big news will be announced for another Supercars veteran of Brodie Kostecki with an expanded 2025 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Lastly, Josh Williams will prove his abilities with impressive runs driving part-time for Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Cup program.
What are your NASCAR predictions for the 2024 season? Leave yours in the comments below. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.