Motorsport News

5 Cup Drivers on the Hot Seat for 2024

Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric

NASCAR fans, it’s finally here.

Racing is back, and with that came a couple new changes in the driver’s seat in the NASCAR Cup Series ahead of the Busch Light Clash on Sunday, Feb. 4.

However, for all the drivers that remained in their rides, five of them stand out as drivers that really need to step it up for 2024. There are several drivers waiting in the wings who could be more than ready to race on Sundays in 2025 in place of drivers who underperform in 2024.

Some might be more far-fetched than others, but we’ve seen crazier things happen in NASCAR (After all, who could have predicted Spire Motorsports buying Kyle Busch Motorsports’ truck team?).

5. Austin Cindric

Let’s address the elephant in the room: The likelihood of Austin Cindric losing his ride is slim to none. His father Tim is the president of Team Penske, and he likely won’t be out of a ride come 2025. However, Cindric could get the Cole Custer treatment and get sent back down to the Xfinity Series to “redevelop” if he continues on the path that he has since joining the Cup Series.

The 2020 Xfinity Series champion was promoted to the Cup Series full-time in 2022. Originally supposed to drive the famed Wood Brothers Racing No. 21, the departure of Brad Keselowski allowed Cindric to take over Penske’s flagship No. 2.

The promotion started off as good as it could have gotten, as Cindric won the 2022 Daytona 500, locking himself into the playoffs and locking up Rookie of the Year by virtue of no other rookies qualifying for the playoffs. He followed that up with a pole at Auto Club Speedway. In all, his 2022 campaign ended with five top fives and nine top 10s en route to a 12th-place points finish. Not quite a flashy stat line, but it was a solid outing for a rookie.

2023, however, saw a regression for the team. No wins or poles, just one top five and five top 10s for a dismal 24th-place finish in points. Meanwhile, teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano both made the playoffs, with the former winning the title.

Last year, I called out Blaney as someone in danger of losing his ride from underperformance. So what did he do? He said, ‘watch this,’ and won the 2023 championship. Now it’s clear that both Blaney and Logano will be with Penske long-term — likely the rest of their careers. And while Cindric will likely be the same thanks to his dad’s ties, his place within the organization — not Blaney’s — is up in the air.


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