2018 Free Agency Tracker
Announced rides for 2018:
Joe Gibbs Racing #20: Erik Jones (Kenseth said he didn’t think he would have the option to return to the team and a few days later on July 11th it was announced that Erik Jones who currently drives for the team with a Joe Gibbs alliance, the #77 for Furniture Row will drive the #20 for JGR, next season)
Hendrick Motorsports #88: Alex Bowman (After months of speculation since, Dale Jr. announced his retirement the name that has been constant was Alex Bowman when, it came to possible replacements. On July 20th, Mr. H and Dale Jr. made it official — Bowman would drive the 88 car for the 2018 season)
Team Penske #2: Brad Keselowski (As we got to June people wondered if one-time cup champion, Brad Keselowski could be leaving Team Penske. He resigned with the team on July 25th after he asked Ford for more support for his Truck team, Brad Keselowski Racing)
Team Penske #12: Ryan Blaney (Ever since Blaney signed with Wood Brothers we have wondered when, Team Penske would bring him over and it will finally happen in 2018)
Wood Brothers Racing #21: Paul Menard (While, the Wood Brothers lose Ryan Blaney to Team Penske they immediately found a driver in Paul Menard. The veteran driver brings a 22 race sponsor in Menards with, the other 14 races to be sponsored by Long-time WBR sponsor, Motorcraft & Quicklane)
Hendrick Motorsports #5: William Byron (The current NASCAR XFINITY rookie and current XFINITY chase points leader was a contender to replace Kahne since, it was known that the 2 top sponsors on the 5 car would leave Kahne at the end of this season. The man who was found by Kyle Busch and looked at as a protégée to Kenseth ended up moving over to JR Motorsports in hopes to race for Hendrick. Well, now he will. August 8th — a day after Kahne was formally released by Hendrick they announced Byron as the new driver of the 5)
Open/possibly open rides for 2018:
#10 Stewart Haas Racing: Danica Patrick (current driver) is in the final year of her contract and has no sponsorship for next season. She likely would need at least an 18-race sponsor to step up in order for her to return — because Stewart-Haas could run Mobil 1, Haas Automation, and maybe Aspen Dental on the car for the other 18. Top drivers to replace her if she can’t return — Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Darrell Wallace Jr., or downsize to a 3-car team — which Gene Haas (Co-Owner of Stewart Haas) says he doesn’t want to do.
#27 Richard Childress Racing: Paul Menard (current driver) will not return in 2018 as he and sponsor, Menards are heading to-Wood Brothers Racing next season. Childress said; “We will announce plans for this 3rd car at a later date” — meaning they plan to stay at 3 cars. Top drivers to replace him: Ty Dillon or Matt Kenseth.
#41 Stewart Haas Racing: Kurt Busch’s 2018 team option on his contract was not picked up by, Stewart Haas Racing on August 1st. Putting him as a free agent for 2018. But, many believe he will return to the team as long as he will take a pay cut if sponsorship can not be found. Top drivers to replace him if he can’t return: Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Darrell Wallace Jr., or downsize to a 3-car team — which Gene Haas (Co-Owner of Stewart Haas) says he doesn’t want to do.
#77 Furniture Row Racing: Erik Jones (current driver) is leaving and joining, Joe Gibbs Racing for next season. The sponsor, 5-Hour Energy has to stay with Furniture Row or leave the sport. Top drivers to replace him: Matt Kenseth, Darrell Wallace Jr., or downsize to a 1-car team.
Matt Kenseth: The 2003 NASCAR Cup champion is out at Joe Gibbs Racing and is looking for a fresh start at a new team, at age 45. He has been linked to several high-caliber teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart Haas Racing, and Furniture Row Racing. He could bring Long-time revival sponsor, DeWalt with him if he gets a ride. Likely ride: #77 for Furniture Row Racing.
Kurt Busch: The man who is the 2004 Cup champion and 2017 Daytona 500 winner has an unlikely future due to Stewart Haas Racing not picking up his 2018 team option on his contract plus, Monster is possibly leaving as a sponsor of Busch’s team at the end of the season. But, if Monster leaves he probably could find a sponsor to step up and replace them. If he doesn’t, he might still be able to stay with SHR as long as he would take a pay cut. Likely ride: #41 for Stewart Haas Racing.
Kasey Kahne: The driver who won this year’s Brickyard 400 announced on August 8th that him and Hendrick Motorsports would part ways at the end of this season. Kahne loses 2 of his top primary sponsors which, is why him and his team parted ways. There are rumblings that he will be with a team associated with Hendrick in 2018. Likely ride: #10 for Stewart Haas Racing, or joining new cup team for 2018, GMS Racing.
Danica Patrick: She is committed to running a full season, somewhere, next season. But, Stewart Haas Racing is questioning her lack of performance and doesn’t see sponsors making offers. Likely ride: #13 for Germain Racing. Now, the likely ride being the #13 for Germain — only happens if Ty Dillon replaces Paul Menard in the 27 for RCR. Plus, Germain Racing picks there drivers based on what sponsor, GEICO wants. If she returns next season, I would only imagine it will be in the 13 car.
Aric Almirola: The driver who missed a few races due to a back injury is not under contract with, Richard Petty Motorsports for next season. Richard Petty said “he is confident Smithfield (Aric’s primary sponsor) will return.” But, if Smithfield doesn’t return things could get interesting at RPM. Likely ride: #43 for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Chris Buescher: The 2015 NASCAR XFinity champion plans to be back in the #37 for JTG Daugherty Racing as Roush Fenway says they plan to stay at 2 cars for next season. He will likely return. Likely ride: #37 for JTG Daugherty Racing.
Darrell Wallace Jr.: Drove a few races for Richard Petty Motorsports as he was subbing for injured, Aric Almirola. He needs sponsorship in order, to find a ride at NASCAR’s highest level. Likely ride: #9/44 for Richard Petty Motorsports.
Possible new teams:
GMS Racing: The newest and fastest team around has been upgrading and performing very fast. But, would they promote there team to Cup too quickly? That is a big question, for the team, team owner, and all the key people — within GMS Racing. If they come to Cup — Spencer Gallagher would be the driver. Number would probably be 96. Sponsor would be Allegiant Travel. But, that is a lot of effort when, they are making there debut season in XFinity this year. Chance it happens: 45%. UPDATE: Since, Kahne and Hendrick have parted ways sources, tell us here at “NASCAR NEWS” that he will drive for a team affiliated with Hendrick in 2018 — which GMS Racing will be if they decide to move up to Cup. Chance it happens — NOW: 60%