How the driver market is shaping up for 2022

  • Several drivers, especially in Cup and Xfinity, will move to new homes. We break down who will end up where.
  • The biggest move involves Brad Keselowski, who is leaving Penske Racing to join Roush Fenway Racing as a full-time driver and minority team owner.
  • Austin Cindric leaves the Xfinity Series to replace Keselowski in the Cup Series with Team Penske. Cindric will also compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Cup.

    NASCAR’s Silly Season is a bit of a misnomer, because for drivers out of a job after the current season, it’s no laughing matter.

    At this late stage of the overall NASCAR season — with only this weekend’s season finales in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series — drivers who don’t have firm plans or appointments for next season will likely have an even harder time securing a ride in 2022 because, frankly, almost every open seat in those three series has already been taken.

    Several drivers, especially in Cup and Xfinity, will move to new homes. Below we explain who will end up where.

    However, this list only includes drivers moving from one team to another or switching series. It does not include drivers returning to their current teams. So if your favorite driver’s name isn’t listed, he/she will return to the same team in 2022.

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    Austin Cindic will be in the cup next year with Team Penske and an early favorite for the Rookie-of-the-Year accolade.

    Logan RielyGetty Images

    Hold on to your seat, because there are many names to work through – more than two dozen, to be exact:

    • Brad Keselowski leaves Penske Racing to join Roush Fenway Racing as a full-time driver and minority team owner.

    • Keselowski will essentially replace Ryan Newman at RFR, which means Newman won’t get a lift at the moment. However, RFR officials have said a part-time Cup ride to keep Newman with the organization is still possible.

    • Austin Cindric leaves the Xfinity Series to replace Keselowski in the Cup Series with Team Penske. Cindric will also compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Cup.

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    Kurt Busch, left, and Brad Keselowski will work with different teams in 2022.

    Logan RielyGetty Images

    • Kurt Busch leaves Chip Ganassi Racing to join 23XL Racing full-time, becoming a teammate of Bubba Wallace.

    • Harrison Burton, son of former Cup driver and current host Jeff Burton, moves from an Xfinity Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing to a full-time Cup ride with Wood Brothers Racing, replacing Matt DiBenedetto.

    • DiBenedetto, meanwhile, has no announced plans for 2022, but continues to look for an open drive in one of NASCAR’s three major series.

    • 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell hopes to stay with Front Row Motorsports, but no announcement of a new contract has yet been made. McDowell’s current contract expires at the end of the current season.

    • No announcement has been made as to whether Anthony Alfredo, McDowell’s teammate at Front Row Motorsports, will return to the team next season or whether he will leave.

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    AJ Allmendinger will compete in both Xfinity and Cup in 2022.

    Logan RielyGetty Images

    • AJ Allmendinger returns for a second full-time Xfinity Series season with Kaulig Racing, but will also add several starts to the Cup Series, including for Kaulig Racing.

    • Myatt Snider moves from Richard Childress Racing to Jordan Anderson Racing – a team that will maintain a relationship with RCR – in the Xfinity Series in 2022.

    • Austin Hill moves from driving a truck for Hattori Racing Enterprises to RCR and the Xfinity Series in 2022.

    • Ty Dillon will return to the Cup Series full-time in 2022 as GMS Racing expands to the Cup Series for the first time. Dillon competed in a part-time mix of Cup and Xfinity races in 2021.

    • Rick Ware Racing continues to grow. The organization will shift to Ford cars and motorcycles in 2022, along with engineering alliances with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines.

    • NASCAR Whelen Euro Champion Loris Hezemans and former CART and F1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve will join forces to compete part-time in the Xfinity Series for Team Hezeberg in 2022 (with a partnership with Reaume Brothers).

    • Sheldon Creed leaves his old home in the Truck Series and will become the No. 2 Chevy driving for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series.

    • Michael Annett retires from full-time racing and leaves JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series after five years of driving.

    • Grant Enfinger leaves ThorSport Racing and returns to GMS Racing in 2022 for a full-time truck ride.

    • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. returns to JTG Daugherty Racing but will go it alone in 2022 as the team scales back to a one-car operation.

    • With JTG Daugherty Racing scaling back to just one car, Ryan Preece is looking for a new ride and team for 2022.

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    Lawless Alan (45) will drive full-time in 2022.

    Jared EastGetty Images

    • The man with one of the most colorful names in NASCAR, Lawless Alan, will switch to a full-time Trucks drive at Niece Motorsports in 2022.

    • Dean Thompson will run a full season truck schedule for Niece Motorsports. He is also going for Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

    • Nick Sanchez switches from the ARCA Menards Series and part of the Drive For Diversity to a part-time Truck Series ride for BJ McLeod Racing.

    • Daniel Hemric, who previously drove full-time for Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series in 2019, then a part-time drive with JR Motorsports in 2020 and a full-time drive in 2021 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, will remain in a full-time position in 2022. Xfinity ride but will switch from JGR to Kaulig Racing.

    • Stefan Parsons upgrades from part-time to full-time next season for BJ McLeod Racing in the Xfinity Series.

    • Colby Howard returns to the Truck Series and makes a full-time drive with McAnally-Hilgermann Racing after spending his 2021 Xfinity Series with JD Motorsports.

    • A newly renamed part-time team – Alpha Prime Racing – will debut in the Xfinity Series in 2022. But it will actually be a merger of teams for drivers Tommy Joe Martins and Caesar Bacarella. ARCA driver Rajah Caruth will also drive several races for the new entry.

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    Emmitt Smith

    Richard RodriguezGetty Images

    • Navy veteran Jesse Iwuji has partnered with NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith to form a new full-time Xfinity team in 2022, known as Jesse Iwuji Motorsports.

    • With Annett retiring from JR Motorsports, Josh Berry moves from part-time roles between JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series and Rackley WAR in the Truck Series in 2021 to a full-time Xfinity ride exclusively with JR Motorsports next season.

    • With Chip Ganassi Racing being bought by Justin Marks, who will take charge of the team almost as soon as the season ends on Sunday, Ross Chastain will move to Marks’ Trackhouse Racing in 2022 as a second full-time ride, along with returning Daniel Suárez.

    Sources: NASCAR.com and Jayski.com

    To follow car week Contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

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