Race Weekend Central

4 Burning Questions: Motorsport at the 2028 Olympics?

1. Austin Hill is the latest silly season domino to fall. What’s next?

After rumors that Austin Hill could potentially be the favorite to replace Justin Haley at Kaulig Racing in 2024, it was announced Aug. 17 that Hill will be back in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for 2024 after signing a multi-year deal with Richard Childress Racing.

With that, the Kaulig sweepstakes are wide open once again.

At the Cup level, the following teams have undecided plans and are currently at the center of silly season:

  • No. 31, Kaulig
  • No. 42, Legacy Motor Club
  • No. 77, Spire Motorsports
  • No. 10, Stewart-Haas Racing
  • No. 21, Wood Brothers Racing

Ryan Preece of SHR and AJ Allmendinger of Kaulig are expected to return, but there is still a possibility that Allmendinger might drop back down to the Xfinity Series.

Harrison Burton currently drives the No. 21 for WBR, but he stated that he doesn’t have an idea about plans for 2024.

SHR’s No. 10 hinges on Almirola and Smithfield, and if the pair leaves, the car might be open to a number of Ford’s developmental drivers.

John Hunter Nemechek had been floated as a possible option for the Legacy’s No. 42 if Martin Truex Jr. were to return to Joe Gibbs Racing (he did), and without a full-time driver in the car, that announcement could potentially be the closest of the five.

Ty Dillon currently drives Spire’s No. 77, but he may not be back for another year. Carson Hocevar made his Cup debut in a substitute role with the team at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in June, and he has been rumored to be one of the drivers in the mix.

Once another one of these seats are filled, it will be easier to predict the remainder of the moves.

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Truckin' Thursdays: 3 Drivers Who Deserve a Better Look in 2024

2. Motorsport is rumored as an addition to the 2028 Summer Olympics. Would it work?

Anyone who watches multiple disciplines of motorsport has probably thought about this question at some point: Who is the greatest driver in the world?

In just five years’ time, it’s possible that the question may finally have an answer. While nothing is official yet, motorsport is one of the disciplines being considered for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

On paper, it would be incredible to see the world’s best drivers going head-to-head against each other for an Olympic gold on one of, if not the largest international stage.

But when looking beyond the ideal, dream scenario, there are more questions than answers.

From stock cars to sports cars to open-wheel cars and more, there are plenty of disciplines within motorsport itself. What cars would be used in a hypothetical Olympic event, and at what track would the event be held? Depending on those two questions, certain drivers and disciplines would have an advantage over the others unless multiple gold medals are awarded for several competitions.

How would the qualifying process work, as well? Only so many competitors can be included from each country, and that’s another slippery slope that would lead to animosity if certain disciplines were chosen over others. And if there is a single qualifying race for each country, that would — once again — favor one discipline over others depending on what cars are used.

A lot of the above problems would be rectified by awarding gold medals for separate disciplines, but which disciplines should be included, and which would be miffed at getting snubbed?

In short, the idea of motorsport at the Olympics would excite race fans all over the globe. But are there too many question marks and hurdles to make it a reality? It appears that we’ll find out in a few weeks’ time.

3. Is Stewart-Haas Racing fourth on the Ford totem pole?

After a dominant performance by Michael McDowell and Front Row Motorsports at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Aug. 13, Ford now has five wins on the season and three in a row. Team Penske, RFK Racing and FRM have combined to lead the charge for the Blue Ovals.

The powerhouse team that’s not on that list? SHR, the only four-car team under the Ford banner in the Cup Series.

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Did You Notice?: The Worst Slump of Stewart-Haas Racing's Existence?

In fact, only seven organizations have failed to win a Cup race this season, and SHR is the only one that has more than two cars (Kaulig, Legacy, Live Fast Motorsports, Spire, Rick Ware Racing and Wood Brothers are the others).

Kevin Harvick was on his way to a win until a late caution at Phoenix Raceway on March 12, and the No. 4 team currently sits sixth in the standings, the highest for a team without a win.

But in less than three months’ time, Harvick won’t be with the team. And beyond the No. 4 team, Chase Briscoe, Preece and Almirola all sit outside the top 20 in points with nine top 10s in a combined 74 starts; McDowell and Todd Gilliland alone have combined for nine top 10s at FRM this season.

Yes, that’s right. FRM is combining to beat the non-Harvick SHR teams in average finish and top 10s this season.

And while Penske, RFK and FRM have their 2024 lineups set in stone, only Briscoe and Josh Berry are confirmed for next year at SHR. The team already has to find new sponsors for the No. 4 car, and if Almirola and Smithfield leave at season’s end, nearly half of the 2024 races for SHR are blank.

Briscoe won at Phoenix Raceway last March, so it’s clear that all four of SHR’s teams can sporadically contend for wins or run up front when capable, but that hasn’t been the case for much of this year.

SHR isn’t fourth on the Ford totem pole at the moment, but if its results continue to spiral into next season without Harvick, it will be.

4. Will Alex Bowman return to form in the final 12 races of the season?

Alex Bowman finished fifth at Indy for his first top-10 finish since Richmond Raceway April 2.

Bowman suffered a back injury from a sprint car crash April 25, and although he returned to Cup Series action at the Coca-Cola 600 May 29, it had been a run of disappointing results for the No. 48 team until last weekend.

That’s to be expected, however, as a back injury is difficult for any racer to recover from. After all, Denny Hamlin recorded career lows in top fives, top 10s and average finish after suffering a similar injury early in the 2013 season.

Bowman currently sits 80 points behind the cut line and would either need a win at Watkins Glen International or Daytona International Speedway to make the playoffs. If a win isn’t in the cards for the team in the next two weeks, the goal should be closing out the season as strong as possible.

Indeed, the week prior to Bowman’s top five at Indy was Michigan International Speedway, and Bowman was one of the quickest cars until a mid-race crash knocked him out of the running after leading 19 laps. Two weeks prior at Pocono Raceway, Bowman was running fourth in the closing laps before getting aero-spun off the nose of Hamlin’s car.

The No. 48 team seems to have found something in the last month, and that should only continue as Bowman gets more races under his belt.

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.

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4 Comments
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janice

motorsports in olympics……now the olympic committee is grasping at straws for viewership. the cost would be out of the world.

DoninAjax

Lawn bowling would be more watchable! Sad, isn’t it! I’m sure the Saudis would build a track just for the one event. The drivers can use high-power lawn mowers that NA$CAR inspect for the Yunick effect.

Shayne

The greatest drivers in the world won’t start their engines until, “NBC Sports’ signature fan-favorite “Radio Style” broadcast” is implemented. I must have missed the fan favorite vote. At least the booth buffoons from NBC actually show up to the track and call the race.

Shayne

The greatest drivers in the world won’t start their engines until, “NBC Sports’ signature fan-favorite “Radio Style” broadcast” is implemented. I must have missed the fan favorite vote. At least the booth buffoons from NBC actually show up to the track and call the ra

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