Denny Hamlin and FedEx contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing are ready to expire at the conclusion of the 2023 NASCAR season. Right now, that’s become the primary focus of NASCAR’s 2024 silly season process.
Trackhouse Racing has announced multi-year contract extensions with Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Hendrick Motorsports also signed Alex Bowman in a multi-year agreement. Meanwhile, Stewart-Haas Racing has re-signed its young rising driver Chase Briscoe.
Outside of Hamlin, no other major drivers appear available as most free agents have already been re-signed. As a result, the driver of car #11 is now the main subject.
Denny Hamlin’s Future in the NASCAR Cup Series Rises to Top Silly Season Topic
Hamlin will likely return to Toyota Racing due to his co-owned team, 23XI Racing, having an affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing. If the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing car were to change manufacturers, it would require an incredible amount of movement.
However, it all depends on whether FedEx will return as Hamlin’s sponsor next season. If FedEx left the sport the same way Mars did, it would have virtually no sponsorship for the 2024 season.
The good thing for Hamlin is that he has a backup option, unlike Kyle Busch when he left Joe Gibbs Racing for Richard Childress Racing. Since he owns a team, the 42-year-old could still drive alone if that makes sense.
Hamlin reportedly said he wanted to drive for 23XI Racing for at least one season before retiring from the NASCAR Cup Series. If this were to come to fruition, could the 2024 season represent the ideal opportunity?
Outside of Hamlin, the pickings are slim. Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece are likely the only drivers available at the end of the day.
Truex seems likely to retire or stay with Joe Gibbs Racing while Almirola is of the same mind-set. That means Michael McDowell would be the best free agent in the Cup Series without a deal for the 2024 season.
It’s a good thing that NASCAR sees drivers keeping themselves and their families safe. The feeling of security makes everything easier. However, people shouldn’t expect a silly and turbulent season like previous years.
Most NASCAR organizations seem happy with what they currently have. Maybe this silly season could be about seeing drivers earn opportunities they’ve long deserved.