The 2017 NASCAR Cup season has only been over for eight days, but already teams are moving into high gear to get ready for 2018.
Numerous changes will occur, including a number of drivers having new homes when the Daytona 500 rolls around in mid-February. There will also be drivers who aren’t coming back, like the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Danica Patrick, whose last Cup race will be the Daytona 500. And who knows where Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth will wind up.
On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte spoke about many of the changes in personnel for next season, including newcomer William Byron, Alex Bowman replaces Earnhardt, Erik Jones switches to Joe Gibbs Racing, Aric Almirola replaces Patrick, Bubba Wallace replaces Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports and several others.
“It’s just the cycle of the sport and it will play itself out,” Kyle Petty said. “In a few years we won’t be talking about Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon except for what they did for the sport, but not that we miss them, we appreciate what they did for the sport but now we have guys like Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, guys like that.”
Dale Jarrett agreed with Petty:
“Most of the time we get to see our top drivers perform for a long period of time and maybe for longer than most other sports. … We generally get to see drivers get close to 20 years at the top of their sport.
“The sport isn’t going away by any means. This is things that have happened over the years, but over the last three years, we’ve lost a lot of the faces. But I’m really looking forward to these young new drivers coming on and who’s going to take the sport and run with it now.”
For more, check out the video above, as well as this video below that focuses on how the young drivers and things such as stage racing and the playoff format will force some of the sport’s longtime veterans to revise some of their strategy on-track.
“When you take out the veterans that have a certain way to race on the race track and replace them with very young (drivers),” Letarte said. “I think the way the races go down and how the competitors attack each other on the racetrack is going to change as well.
“It’s not just who is going to win these races, but how they’re going to win these races? What moves now and what level of aggression have become acceptable? I think that we learned this year that is a moving target every race, if not every year.”