2018 NASCAR free agents: Danica Patrick latest to join extensive list
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series is in for a major shake-up next season.
In addition to Dale Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be new drivers in the iconic No. 24 and No. 43 cars, as well as other major changes across the sport.
Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola became the latest drivers without an official Cup Series ride next season joining a long list of free agents Tuesday. Neither driver has announced their plans for next season, but Darrell Wallace Jr. is expected to drive the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car after sponsor Smithfield Foods announced Tuesday it was joining Stewart-Haas Racing, leaving Almirola without a job.
Here are the other major changes for next season in order of announcement date.
2018 NASCAR replacement drivers
Erik Jones will wheel the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, replacing veteran driver Matt Kenseth.
Alex Bowman will replace Earnhardt in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Ryan Blaney will be in Team Penske's third car, the No. 12, as part of a multi-year contract extension.
Paul Menard will replace Blaney in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford.
William Byron will take Chase Elliott's car No. 24 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kasey Kahne. Elliott will keep his current team and move to the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
2018 NASCAR free agents
The musical chairs in NASCAR's Cup Series currently leaves four open rides (not including Wallace to the No. 43).
The Nos. 10 (formerly of Patrick), 27 (Menard), 41 (Kurt Busch), and 77 (Jones) teams are currently without drivers but there are plenty of free agents looking to fill the spots.
Kenseth, Busch, Kahne, Patrick, Almirola, Greg Biffle (didn't race in 2017), and Casey Mears (didn't race Cup in 2017) are all looking for a team next season.