NASCAR Silly Season: Hendrick Motorsports

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series hits mid-season, it brings about a fair amount of speculation referred to as “Silly Season.” This is where the NASCAR community starts to make their guesses on who they think will be racing where in the upcoming year.

A lot of the focus has been on Hendrick Motorsports lately, primarily on Kasey Kahne and the No.5 car and the No. 88 car, currently piloted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. We all know Jimmie Johnson signed a contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports through 2020, and Chase Elliott signed one through 2022, so they’re staying put. That leaves room for a lot of gossip when it comes to Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earlier this year, Dale Jr. announced that he would be retiring after the 2017 season. For him, it’s not so much a speculation of where he’ll go, but who will fill his shoes once he retires. Dale Jr. has been the face of NASCAR for the past 15+ years, so there has been a lot of talk about who will take his place and if they will live up to his name.

Now as for Kasey Kahne. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you know Kahne and the No. 5 team have been seriously underperforming the past few years. Many people have their guesses on why that is, but that’s a story for a different day. Kahne has a contract with Hendrick Motorsports through 2018.

While many fans expressed thoughts that Kahne will leave the organization after this season, the team put that to rest when they reassured fans that his contract still had another full season left.

The predictions on who will be in both the No. 5 and the No. 88 car are the same for the most part, so I will cover them in depth below:

  1. Alex Bowman – Probably the most wanted and most highly anticipated choice for the No. 88 car is 24 year old Alex Bowman. Bowman took Dale Jr.’s spot in the No. 88 car last season after Dale was sidelined for a concussion. Bowman outperformed expectations when he posted three top 10’s and won a pole in Dale’s place. Not to mention, he ran at the front of the pack surprisingly often and even fought for a win a few times. Dale Jr. even said that he knows fans want Bowman in the car, and that he wants him in the car as well, so he will do his best to make sure he ends up there. However, there has also been speculation that he might end up in the No. 5 car, so fans will have to wait and see.
  2. Brad Keselowski – Keselowski, currently the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite car for Team Penske, is a top performer in his organization. His contract with Team Penske, however, is up after the 2017 season, and they have yet to announce a renewal. This leaves a lot of fans wondering if he will be an unexpected choice to take over the famed No. 88 or the No. 5. There hasn’t been much word from either side on this particular shake-up, so it’s doubtful, but stranger things have happened.
  3. William Byron – Young Byron is the center of an abundance of speculation. Presently, let’s cover his place in Hendrick Motorsports. Byron ran one season in the Camping World Truck Series last year, where he posted an impressive 7 wins, 11 top fives, and 16 top tens. He could have won the championship had it not been for a blown engine late at Phoenix. Byron currently drives the No. 9 Liberty University/Axalta Chevy for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, after agreeing to a multi-year contract with Rick Hendrick. He currently has two wins, 5 top fives, and 9 top tens. It’s possible that Byron could advance to the Cup series after a year in Xfinity, replacing Dale Jr. or Kasey Kahne.

Those are some of the most popular predictions for Hendrick Motorsports’ “Silly Season”, with Bowman reigning supreme for the No. 88 and Byron for the No. 5. Undoubtedly, Hendrick Motorsports will experience an interesting shake-up in the upcoming seasons. It will be exciting to see the success for them in the next few years.

Have your own guess on who will go where? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or reaching out to us on social media!'
Kayla Sturm

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