Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Way-Too-Early NASCAR Silly Season Mock Draft

NASCAR Silly Season seems to start earlier and earlier every year.

It unofficially kicked off last week when Michael McDowell signed with Spire Motorsports for 2025 and beyond in the NASCAR Cup Series. But that was merely the first domino to fall.

Rumors appear to change by the day, but let’s take a first crack at nailing down Silly Season for the 2025 season, ranging from teams that are already set for next year to teams that will see massive changes.

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No Changes

Hendrick Motorsports

All four drivers are locked in.

JTG Daugherty Racing

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recently signed an extension with the team. Some of the ownership players could change and Kroger could leave, but the team itself should look the same.

Spire Motorsports

With McDowell’s signing, Spire now has all three seats filled. The McDowell announcement said Corey LaJoie and Carson Hocevar would be back as well. Zane Smith is leaving, but he is signed with Trackhouse Racing and was only on a loan to Spire for this year.

Could-Be Changes

23XI Racing

Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace will of course be back, but the team could purchase a third charter. Corey Heim seems like the easy choice, but maybe Denny Hamlin wants to finally drive for his own team. Or perhaps 23XI could swipe a current Ford driver or one of the Legacy Motor Club drivers.

Joe Gibbs Racing

The only moving piece at JGR could be Martin Truex Jr. The 2017 Cup champion has mulled over retirement for a few years now, so the only way the JGR lineup could change is if he doesn’t come back for 2025. Maybe Hamlin or Christopher Bell could leave, but I see no reason for them to just yet.

If JGR wants to elevate someone from the NASCAR Xfinity Series should Truex retire, Chandler Smith appears ready. Perhaps Gragson goes there so JGR can keep Bass Pro, but that feels unlikely.

Legacy Motor Club

The team could be in the market for a third charter. It already runs a part-time third entry for Jimmie Johnson. Should it land a third charter, Legacy could be in the Heim sweepstakes.

Also, we don’t know the contract status of John Hunter Nemechek or Erik Jones. I don’t see why either would leave or the team would get rid of either, but crazier things have happened. Maybe Legacy wants to promote Heim but can’t land a third charter so it has to send one of its current drivers packing.

Rick Ware Racing

Justin Haley signed a multiyear deal last year, but if RFK Racing scores a third charter, it could be that he goes there. Remember, Brad Keselowski sat in on the negotiations with Haley.

For the No. 15, RWR has used a variety of drivers to fill the seat. It could go with one full-time driver next year in Riley Herbst or Kaz Grala, who both currently race it part time.

RFK Racing

Keselowski and Chris Buescher are both locked in, but perhaps the team could buy a third charter. If it does, Haley or one of the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers could come over. Cole Custer drove the No. 6 last year in relief at Phoenix Raceway, and Chase Briscoe previously drove for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Richard Childress Racing

I imagine Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon will be back, but maybe Dillon could retire and transition into a leadership role at RCR. Austin Hill or Noah Gragson could fill the No. 3 should that happen. Hill deserves promotion from the team’s Xfinity program, and Gragson has the Bass Pro Shops connection.

RCR could also purchase a third charter. It’s been running a third car part time this year for Hill and Will Brown. Hill, Brown or Gragson fill a third seat there.

Team Penske

Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano aren’t going anywhere, and Austin Cindric‘s seat is most likely safe. But lack of performance could lead to Cindric being replaced should Ford want to put another driver in the No. 2.

There Most Certainly Will Be Changes

Front Row Motorsports

McDowell is gone, so FRM has to fill the No. 34 seat. Todd Gilliland has done a great job in the No. 38, so I expect him back.

But rumors have this team expanding. It could either be purchasing two charters from Stewart-Haas Racing or be merging with SHR, which would then sell off two of its charters. It sounds like FRM could be moving into SHR’s current shop.

Should a merger or acquisition of SHR occur, expect FRM to pick up at least one of the current SHR drivers. Custer has been rumored to take over the No. 34. Herbst could find a ride there. Maybe Josh Berry‘s or Briscoe’s entire team could end up being absorbed into FRM.

Kaulig Racing/Trackhouse Racing

It sounds like some kind of merger/takeover could happen between Kaulig and Trackhouse. Trackhouse has four Cup-ready drivers under contract but only two charters. And now Zane Smith no longer has the Spire ride, so Trackhouse either has to bring him in-house, loan him out elsewhere or release him.

Acquiring or merging with Kaulig would be the surest way to a charter for each of the four drivers. The team could then put Smith and Shane van Gisbergen in the Nos. 16 and 31 cars (or whatever numbers they would become), and Daniel Hemric would either be demoted or have to look elsewhere for a Cup ride. Maybe the merger would consist of Trackhouse fielding the Cup entries and Kaulig taking care of the Xfinity teams, so AJ Allmendinger is unaffected.

If Trackhouse does move on from Smith, who is 35th in points and last among full-time drivers, the fourth car could be an all-star entry, similar to what the No. 16 is now. That way the team could field Allmendinger, Connor Zilisch and whoever else the team wants to run part time in a chartered entry.

Of course, the two teams could remain separate entities, and Trackhouse could get a third charter from SHR. But the merger between Kaulig and Trackhouse just makes too much sense given Trackhouse’s desire to grow and Kaulig’s recent struggles.

Stewart-Haas Racing

The rumor mill around SHR has been running wild. It seems almost certain it will sell at least two charters. As for the other two, SHR could sell those off as well and leave Cup entirely, or it could merge with FRM. Or maybe it goes ahead as a two-car organization, but that appears to be the least likely scenario.

Some of the SHR drivers could wind up at FRM or another Ford outfit. It sounds like multiple teams are trying to acquire the services of Gragson. Ryan Preece is probably the biggest loser if there is a transition. He’s the only SHR driver outside the top 25 in points, and he’s the only one who might be left without a seat in this game of musical chairs.

Wood Brothers Racing

The way Freddie Kraft talked about Harrison Burton in this week’s episode of Door, Bumper, Clear, it sounds like all but official that Burton will not be back in the legendary No. 21 car after three tough seasons. I have no idea where Burton would go — maybe he goes back down to Xfinity or Trucks.

Look for the Woods to get one of the SHR drivers, namely Briscoe or Gragson. Or if Penske wants one of them in the No. 2, Cindric could head over to the No. 21, a car he was originally supposed to drive.

About the author

Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

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