Who’s going to replace Dale Earnhardt JR next season?
That question is probably in the back of every NASCAR’ fan’s mind and while there have been several names thrown into the hat for who will replace NASCAR’s most popular drivers, but no definite decision has been made as of yet for who it will be. With that being said, speculation is always fun and that’s why we bring you the top-five best options to take over JR’s ride in 2018.
As always, leave a comment below to let us know what you think of the list and who you believe should take over for Dale JR next season.
Out of nowhere, right? Yes, Hamilton coming to NASCAR doesn’t seem like a possibility, especially since Hamilton stated this week in an interview that he wanted to focus on Formula One for now, but he does have connections to the sport that would make the move possible. In fact, former Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon, told Hamilton only two years ago that he would set him up in a ride if he wanted.
Not the best pick by any means necessary , but Bowman filled in for Dale Earnhardt JR last season and had a pretty strong showing in this year’s clash before he let the win slip away in the closing laps of the race. He also put JR’s car on the pole at Phoenix last year, which ultimately allowed him to race in The Clash to start with. Unfortunately for Bowman, another huge downside to him taking the ride is the lack of sponsorship opportunity.
Whether Bowman is the future or not, he is an unproven commodity and Rick Hendrick needs someone that can jump into the #88 car and win immediately. While wins may be in the future for Bowman at the Cup level, he has too many downsides to take over for JR right now. Maybe another time and maybe for another team, but it would be a huge mistake to put him in JR’s seat and expect immediate success.
Rumors have already been running wide about the reason Brad Keselowski hasn’t signed an extension with Penske Racing yet and the likeliest reason for this probably has to do with Keselowskii wanting to take over Dale JR’s ride. If it is Keselowski i that ends up taking over for JR in 2018, Hendrick will have another former champion under his roof, a man that brings sponsors to the table and the chance to win immediately.
Unfortunately for those that are hoping for this to happen, Penske is going to do everything he can to keep Keselowski in the #12 car and unless Hendrick is willing to put up some pretty big numbers for Keselowski to make the change, it probably wont happen. Furthermore, there would probably be a learning curve for Keselowski, who hasn’t driven a Chevrolet since winning at Talladega in 2009.
Matt Kenseth came to JGR after failing to capture a second championship with Roush Fenway Racing for the better part of a decade. Unfortunately for Kenseth, he still hasn’t claimed his second title and he’s entering his sixth season with JGR and Toyota With all that being said, the best place for Kenseth to win a championship and continue to stay competitive is at Hendrick Motorsports.
What helps the situation is the fact that Dale JR and Matt Kenseth have been buddies for years and Kenseth also has a lot of upside when it comes to sponsorship potential. He already has some pretty strong sponsors at JGR and its not out of the realm of possibilities that his move to Hendrick could bring a suitor that bother Kenseth and Hendrick are happy with.
This kid is the next big thing. Sure, he’s had a learning curve in The Xfinity Series before knocking off twin victories at Iowa and Daytona , and very well could face the same curve in The Cup Series, but as long as he stays consistent and in top equipment, there is no reason why he couldn’t bring the #88 to new heights. The only downside here is the fact that sponsors have a hard time coming to the table for young drivers, but Dale JR could take care of that.