With the next generation of stock cars in NASCAR coming up in 2022 we have so many new and existing owners looking to make a splash in the NASCAR Cup series. Yesterday Trackhouse Racing Team owner Justin Marks gave a big tease that the team is more than likely looking to expand to a two-car operation in 2022.
With this news, we now have the possibility of possibly four more cars entering the Cup field in 2022. This includes the already mentioned Trackhouse expansion, a second 23XI Racing car, Kaulig Racing, and possibly a JR Motorsports Cup entry. While the JR Motorsports move to Cup has not been confirmed, it has yet to be said that they will stay in Xfinity strictly.
All this growth is amazing for the sport, but it presents a self-made problem for NASCAR and its charter system. With only 36 charters, there aren’t enough to go around, but it seems that these teams are willing to risk heading into the season without a charter. Without charters, teams will have to make the field on qualifying time next season.
Now, there are only 36 charters, but 40 spots are available each week. These four extra cars could be hoping to be able to make the field each week just based on field size. This season, Ryan Preece and JTG Daughtry Racing have run the whole season without a charter, and have been able to do so thanks to the entry lists not getting full. Next season if these 4 teams decide to fill the entry list, some cars will be eliminated.
A team like JTGDR is going to be hit hard by this, but considering they aren’t even committed to racing a full season this year, the chances are they won’t attempt a second car in 2022. Trackhouse, 23XI, Kaulig, and possibly JRM are all probably assuming that with their equipment, any team that challenges them to make the 40-car field will be sent home. A fair assumption to make, but again it’s risky.
Teams like Rick Ware Racing who have no intentions of being competitive have faced a lot of scrutiny from fans, media, drivers, and other owners. They currently hold four charters and refuse to relinquish them in the hopes of driving up the price and selling them for ridiculous rates. This is the reason many teams have come out and said they will attempt to run without charters.
The charter system aside, there are a lot of obvious good things that come from team expansion. The growth of the sport, but also adds the potential for more parity and busting up some of the bigger teams that have had field days in the sport for many years. Even more importantly, more jobs and opportunities for drivers in the sport.
There is a long list of names that are currently prospects for Cup rides. You have Kurt Busch who has been linked to the second 23XI car. A.J. Allmendinger was strongly hinted at as being Kaulig’s top choice for their upcoming Cup team. Trackhouse currently doesn’t have a driver favored since this news is so fresh, but they have a plethora of solid options.
Drivers expected to be considered ranked:
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Ryan Preece
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Justin Haley
- Brett Moffitt
- Kaz Grala
- Ryan Newman
- Ty Dillon
- Justin Allgaier
- Aric Almirola
- Daniel Hemric
- Jeb Burton
- Josh Berry
- Noah Gragson
- Shelden Creed
This list does not include names like Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger due to their links to other teams at the moment. If there are some Xfinity drivers or Cup drivers that will be available in the offseason like Harrison Burton or Michael McDowell, they are not included due to them being in other team’s development programs or heavily rumored to be returning to their 2021 teams.
All these names are realistic candidates, but I think John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Haley, and Josh Berry may be spoken for. JHN seems to be fully entrenched in the Toyota camp and may wait for one of its seats to open. Justin Haley might be heading to the second Spire Motorsports team in 2022, but he’s yet to sign a contract so he’s fair game. Berry’s availability is largely up to Dale Earnhardt Jr. If JRM has an open spot for him in Xfinity next season, I believe he will stay loyal to Jr.
Matt DiBenedetto is also a name that’s still up in the air in terms of his availability. With Brad Keselowski leaving it may open the opportunity for him to either move to Penske or remain with the Wood Brothers. If DiBenedetto does become a free agent, then he’ll more than likely be high on Trackhouse’s list.
The rest of the options are all going to be available, but I think if I had to pick one it would be Ryan Preece. He’s been running very well in mediocre to underfunded equipment and is competing for a playoff spot. It’s a long shot he makes the playoffs but being where he is in the points running on a team without a charter this season is impressive.
Ryan Newman is an interesting name to watch with Trackhouse because he is hands down the best veteran driver on the market excluding Kurt Busch. If Brad Keselowski kicks him out of the 6-car, then a team like Trackhouse might want to bring in a veteran to help lead a young Daniel Suarez that is inching close to reaching his potential.
Every driver on this list will probably be brought up at one point and each of them has their merit making them worthy of getting the ride. I hope that the bottom three will still be racing in Xfinity because I think they need more development, but I’m sure they will be considered for cheap deals.