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2024 NASCAR Cup Series Season Preview

It’s time for drivers to start their engines. NASCAR is back, and the 2024 season is here. It unofficially started two weeks ago with the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum exhibition race, which was won by Denny Hamlin, who I predicted would win that race. Now, the season officially begins on Sunday with the Daytona 500.

This season, the schedule has a couple of changes. The spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be back on concrete after being on dirt for the last three years. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Brickyard 400, NASCAR is going back to racing on the oval at Indy after racing on the road course the past couple of years. After racing in the streets of Chicago for the first time last year, the street course race in Chicago is back (hopefully, there’ll be no rain this year). The NASCAR Cup Series will race for the first time at Iowa Speedway this year. The final race of the regular season will be the Southern 500 at Darlington on Labor Day weekend instead of Daytona, which will have the next to last race of the regular season.

Now, let’s take a look at the top storylines for 2024.

Ryan Blaney and Team Penske: Blaney enters the season as the defending Cup Series champion. He will be looking to improve on a season where he won just one race in the regular season, won two of the last six races, and finished second in the final race to win the championship.

Blaney’s Penske teammate, Joey Logano, will be looking to get back in championship form after an uncharacteristic year last year. Austin Cindric will be looking to make his third season in the Cup Series his best yet. Team Penske will be going for their third straight championship after Logano and Blaney won the last two. Can they win three championships in a row?

Chase Elliot: Elliot will be looking to have a comeback year after not winning a race and missing seven races last year. I believe that Elliot will win races this year and have a good season.

Kyle Larson: Larson will be an interesting driver to watch this year. This year, he will be racing in the Indianapolis 500. It will be interesting to see how Larson does in the Indy 500. But the question is, will preparing for the Indy 500 be a distraction for Larson, and will his performance in the Cup Series suffer as a result?

Rookie battle: This year will feature three rookies: Josh Berry, Carson Hocevar, and Zane Smith. Berry replaces the retired Kevin Harvick in the four-car for Stewart-Hass Racing. He filled in for Elliot last year when he was out and should have a good rookie season. Hocevar and Smith moved up from the Truck series, and both have made starts in the Cup Series. They have been impressive in their Cup starts and are rising stars. This will be a good rookie battle.

Stewart-Hass Racing: SHR has two new drivers, Berry and Noah Gragson, who replace the retired Aric Almirola in the ten-car. Last year, SHR struggled and didn’t have the success that they’d had in the past. With two new drivers, can they find success again?

Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing: RFK improved greatly from the previous season last year. Chris Beuscher won three races, and Brad Keselowski and Beuscher both made the playoffs last year. I think that RFK will continue their last year's success, and Keselowski will finally win as an owner/driver.

Championship Prediction: Predicting who the champion will be in any sport at the start of the season is hard. With that being said, my championship pick is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is still competitive and can win races. He has come close before and can get the job done. Denny Hamlin wishes the best active driver who hasn’t won a championship, and he finally gets it this year.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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