Like Christmas sales, the NASCAR Silly Season seems to begin earlier each year.
Before the season even began, sponsor M&M’s announced that they would not be renewing their sponsorship for the Joe Gibbs Racing number 18 car. And Aric Almirola announced that he would be retiring from full time driving of the Stewart-Haas Racing number 10 car at the end of the year.
While the future of JGR driver Kyle Busch is still up in the air, the big story of the 2022 NASCAR season is the number of drivers who have signed new contracts for the coming year and beyond.
Tyler Reddick shocked the racing world with his announcement that at the end of the 2023 racing season he would be leaving Richard Childress Racing and the number eight car and moving to 23 XI Racing.
The Cup Series got a second shock with the announcement that Aric Almirola isn’t’t retiring after all and will return to Stewart-Haas Racing and the number 10 car.
Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, 23XIRacing’s Bubba Wallace, Petty GMS Racing’s Erik Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr, JTG Daugherty’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and William Byron, and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez have signed contract extensions for at least the next year with some extending multiple years.
In the Camping World Truck Series – which is changing sponsors next season – points leader Zane Smith has announced that he will be returning to Front Row Motorsports in the number 38 truck and will have some opportunities to race in the Xfinity and Cup Series races.
Ty Dillion, driver of the Petty GMS Racing number 42 car has announced that he would not be returning to the team for the 2023 season. Petty GMS has announced that the current driver of the JR Motorsports number nine car in the Xfinity Series Noah Gragson has been signed to driver the number 42 car next season. JRM has not yet made an announcement of a new driver for the number nine car for next season. Gragson has been a part time driver of the number 16 Kaulig Racing Cup Series car this season.
Although he has a multi year contract with 23XI Racing, Kurt Busch’s future has come into question after a qualifying crash at Pocono that resulted in a concussion has cost the driver six races and is now out of the playoffs due to the injury.
Meanwhile, two time Cup Series driver – the only multi year champion among current drivers – Kyle Busch is dealing with some sleepless nights over his Cup Series future. Toyota is adamant about keeping Busch in one of their cars and preferably at JGR, but is team owner as adamant about holding on to his driver? The team states that they are working hard to find a new sponsor and sign the driver but that sincerity comes into question when announcements are being made almost daily about other drivers signing contract extensions.