As the 2024 season gets closer and closer, the final pieces of the NASCAR National Series rosters are coming together, allowing for reasonable expectations to be put together for the upcoming year.
There are some drivers and teams, though, that have been building momentum throughout the end of the 2023 NASCAR season, and with a brand-new ride, or additional resources, could find themselves having a breakout season.
So, which drivers are poised to exceed expectations in 2024? Joseph Srigley, Managing Editor of TobyChristie.com has five ideas in particular, of drivers who could find themselves having the best season of their careers.
Entering his fifth season as a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Riley Herbst is poised to have a breakout season in 2024, as he returns to the No. 98 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing.
While a 13th-place points finish plagued his statline, Herbst turned things around in an incredible way to finish the year. In the final five races of the year, Herbst put together five straight top-fives — including his first career victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It’s seemingly the result of a newfound confidence for the Las Vegas, Nevada-native, after earning the respect of NASCAR Cup Series regulars at Talladega Superspeedway, while legitimately competing for the win while driving for Front Row Motorsports.
If Herbst can once again channel that confidence and take advantage of momentum earned from an off-season victory in the Trophy Truck Spec class of the Baja 1000, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver could be a constant threat for wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Things are poised to look significantly different for Matt Mills in 2024, who enters the season with the best opportunity of his career, to date, a full-time ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Niece Motorsports.
Having spent many years driving for underfunded NASCAR Xfinity Series teams, Mills wasn’t at the forefront of anybody’s mind for a top-tier ride in NASCAR, until he took a chance on himself with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2023.
In his first race driving the No. 51 Chevrolet Silverado, Mills made a definite impression by qualifying, running, and finishing inside the top five — his first career top-five finish in NASCAR’s top-three series.
Now, he finds himself with the opportunity to run full-time in a race-winning vehicle, taking over the seat of the Niece Motorsports entry that Carson Hocevar carried to victory lane on four occasions in 2023.
As far as expectations for Mills in 2024, nothing has necessarily been pinpointed. However, in theory, the Lynchburg, Virginia-native should be competing for a spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series post-season.
For the last four years, Kyle Weatherman has competed nearly full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. But, in 2024, the Wentzville, Missouri native is scheduled to run the entire 33-race schedule in the No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro for DGM Racing.
Throughout his career, Weatherman has bounced back and forth between organizations including Mike Harmon Racing, DGM Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Our Motorsports, and JD Motorsports.
Though, no matter the organization he’s competing with, Weatherman has been able to consistently exceed expectations — making the consistency he’ll gain with DGM Racing in 2024 beneficial to all involved.
Weatherman was consistently a top-15 driver when running his partial schedule for DGM Racing in 2023, and from time to time showed strength to drive into and compete for spots inside the top-10.
While it’s unlikely Weatherman and DGM Racing will be pulling into Victory Lane at any point throughout the 2024 season, but don’t be surprised if the No. 91 Chevrolet Camaro makes several appearances inside the top-10.
There’s no doubt that Dean Thompson had a tough season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2023, with 10 DNFs and a 20th-place points finish while driving the No. 5 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro for TRICON Garage.
Despite that, things weren’t all bad for the Anaheim, California-native, who managed to record a pair of top-five results on the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, as well as five top-10 finishes.
With a pair of full-season NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series campaigns under his belt, Thompson is poised to have a breakout season in 2024, based solely on the performances he was able to put together last season.
But, an important piece of the puzzle for the 22-year-old driver to succeed is distancing himself from the midfield, which has proven on multiple occasions to be a messy place within the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series field.
If Thompson can accomplish that and build upon his strengths from 2023, the TRICON Garage driver shouldn’t be a far-fetched option for a berth into the NASCAR Truck Series post-season — whether it be via points or a victory.
Spire Motorsports is entering the 2024 season as a brand-new organization, essentially.
The team is expanding its NASCAR Cup Series program to include three full-time entries, while at the same time acquiring the entirety of Kyle Busch Motorsports — the NASCAR Truck Series team, as well as the massive shop.
On top of that major-scale expansion, Spire Motorsports is bringing many top-tier personnel on board for the new season, which leaves the organization in an amazing position to have a breakout season.
In the NASCAR Cup Series, the team is committed to Corey LaJoie, the driver responsible for bringing Spire Motorsports to the midfield, for multiple more seasons, as announced last year.
Alongside LaJoie, the organization has taken on a pair of young, talented drivers in Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith, who will compete for Rookie of The Year honors against Josh Berry and Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024.
On top of driver talent, Smith is a signed Trackhouse Racing driver, meaning the two-car organization will be supporting the No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro throughout the season, which will bolster the team’s entire program, possibly allowing the team to compete for its first NASCAR Cup Series post-season berth.