Race Weekend Central

4 Burning Questions: What Are the Plans for Busch and FedEx in 2024?

With Kevin Harvick retiring at season’s end, who does Anheuser-Busch sponsor in 2024?

Replacing Kevin Harvick is one of the many challenges that Stewart-Haas Racing will face next year, and it also has to prepare for the possibility that Busch Light won’t return as a sponsor for the team.

As first reported by Sports Business Journal, Anheuser-Busch (the parent company of Busch Light) is reportedly in talks with Trackhouse Racing Team and Ross Chastain for a deal in 2024.

A-B leaving SHR after the end of Harvick’s tenure wouldn’t be a surprise. The company first started sponsoring Harvick through its Budweiser brand in 2011, and he took the sponsorship with him to SHR in 2014. And unlike Mobil 1 — which makes semi-frequent appearances with Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe in addition to Harvick — A-B is a sponsor with closer ties to Harvick than SHR itself.

And with the lucrative Busch Light sponsorship potentially up for grabs next season, a driver with the beer’s namesake tried throwing his hat into the ring after the report was posted on Twitter.

There are 10 months left until the 2024 offseason begins, so an announcement won’t be expected for several months. But with A-B expected to sponsor a car in 2024, look for several teams and drivers to begin courting the company in the upcoming months.

See also
Kevin Harvick Won't Be the Next NASCAR Iron Man. Who Will?

Is FedEx reducing its sponsorship in 2023 a concerning sign for next season?

In an era that has seen the downfall of season-long sponsorships that were once common in the mid-2000s, FedEx has been one of the longest holdouts.

It hasn’t sponsored Denny Hamlin in every race per se, but it sponsored him in 31 of the 36 races in 2021 and 30 of the 36 races in 2022.

This year has been different, however, as FedEx has been nowhere to be found in races that they traditionally sponsor.

Sport Clips first sponsored Hamlin in the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. And while it’s a non-points race, it’s the first time in Hamlin’s career that FedEx wasn’t the sponsor for it.

Sport Clips again appeared at Auto Club Speedway in February, while FedEx was on the car for the Daytona 500 and the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last Sunday (March 5). However, the FedEx colors won’t be seen again for at least another month.

SHINGRIX was announced as Hamlin’s sponsor for the upcoming weekend at Phoenix Raceway, the following weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the seventh race of the season at Richmond Raceway on April 2. The only race in-between Atlanta and Richmond is at Circuit of the Americas, where Interstate Batteries will adorn Hamlin’s No. 11 for the first time in his career.

When including the exhibition race at the Clash, FedEx hasn’t been on the hood for six of the first eight races of 2023, the same amount as the entirety of 2022.

And did I mention the contracts for both Hamlin and FedEx expire at the end of the 2023 season?

It would be unlikely to see neither sign an extension, and while FedEx may simply be deciding to cut back on sponsorship, it’s also possible that they’re selling the sponsorship out to other companies more often.

Like A-B, any Hamlin or FedEx extensions will likely be announced a few months down the road.

Has Chandler Smith already established himself as a Xfinity Series title contender?

He didn’t win the race, but Chandler Smith sure turned heads on Saturday (March 4), as he won the pole and led 118 laps in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas before finishing third, all while outrunning Kaulig Racing teammate Kyle Busch.

Smith, a five-time winner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has made just six career starts in the Xfinity Series.

But it certainly doesn’t feel like six, as Smith has immediately caught on to racing in the series. He opened his rookie season with a solid 12th-place finish at Daytona and then followed it up with a fourth-place finish at Auto Club after running in the top 10 all day.

Last weekend was where everything (almost) came together, as Smith was two laps away from a win before dealing with a tight condition that allowed Austin Hill to sneak by for his second victory of the season.

Had Smith won, he would’ve joined AJ Allmendinger as the only drivers to win for Kaulig at non-superspeedways in the Xfinity Series; all other drivers scored their wins at either Daytona or Talladega.

To have that dominant of a race this early in his Xfinity career — for a team that traditionally hasn’t dominated 1.5-mile tracks — speaks volumes for Smith’s ability behind the wheel. The first win is a matter of when, not if. And if he continues to put up these performances, a deep playoff appearance and a Championship 4 spot aren’t out of the question.

See also
Eyes on Xfinity: Looking Back at Hottest Starts in Series History

The No. 19 team gambled on the final restart at Las Vegas. Why not others?

Pit strategy for overtime restarts is often a “damned if you, damned if you don’t” situation for the leaders.

With that said, it was somewhat surprising to see only one driver stay out for track position: Martin Truex Jr.

After all, going for track position was the winning move in the overtime restart at Las Vegas in March 2022, as the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson took two tires and snookered the top three of Busch, Truex and Chastain, who all took four.

But given that last Sunday presented the exact same scenario as 2022, the crew chiefs all knew the winning decision was to take two tires.

Anyone that took four was well out of striking distance for the lead. Truex was the only one to gamble, but in hindsight, the gamble only would’ve paid off if enough teams decided to stay out with them.

And enough teams saw that two tires did the trick last year. If teams chose to stay out, they would also have no idea whether their competitors would be taking two or four tires until after the fact. If everyone took two, then 1-2 rows of cars on old tires might’ve done the trick. But if everyone took four, anyone on old tires was going to be a sitting duck.

Easy to say all of this in hindsight, of course, especially when considering how the last two finishes in the spring played out. But if the Cup field is presented with an overtime restart at a track that has never had a two-lap shootout with the Next Gen car, get ready for conventional pit strategies to go out the window.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

If the earlier article about the dire state of Fed X’s Financial condition is accurate & I have no reason to believe it isn’t. Then it’s NASCAR sponsorship is low hanging fruit for cost cutting. Looking at it objectively, they really don’t need it. They already get plenty of eyeballs with the number of trucks rolling down the highways, with those big Fed X logos on both sides of their trailers.

Judging by Hamlin’s comments about Bush’s financial demands on Gibbs, & if his are more modest. Then they should have little trouble putting together individual sponsors to cover his coming season. Regardless of what I personally think of him, he still has the star power & performance to attract sponsors.

What it might do is to hasten his decision to be fulltime hands on at 23VI, & run selected races in a third car over there.

Bill B

That’s what I want to see, him put all his chips in and drive for his own team instead of playing it safe and stay with Gibbs.


He will always stay tied to Gibbs unless he switches to Chev or Ford.

Bill B

Yeah I know that Toyota pretty much means Gibbs. Still, on any given week, the Gibbs cars are most likely the best bets amongst the Toyotas. I want him to risk his sure thing Gibbs car and take his chances with his (some weeks) dubious 23XI car. In other words, do the dirty work of building HIS team up.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bill B
Share via