Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing shook up NASCAR Silly Season on July 12 by announcing that he will depart Richard Childress Racing after the 2023 season. This will create a vacancy in the No. 8 Chevrolet, and there are several options for potential replacements.
A pair of Xfinity Series championship contenders — Austin Hill and Noah Gragson — stand out as the top options, especially with their ties to RCR. Hill drives the No. 21 entry for the organization, and he is well within reach of Rookie of the Year honors after winning races at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gragson, for comparison, drives for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, and he has seven career wins combined in the past three seasons. He is also currently in the midst of a part-time Cup Series run with Kaulig Racing. The Matt Kaulig-owned team has a technical affiliation with RCR, which helps with the monumental task of fielding five entries across two series.
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Gragson has been a hot topic of conversation throughout the year. He is in the middle of his fourth full-time Xfinity Series season, and he is back in the playoffs after adding two more wins to his career total.
While he has drawn criticism for turning into Sage Karam at Road America, he has also created conversations about how he could be a Cup Series driver as soon as 2023 based on his skills behind the wheel and his ties to major sponsors such as Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee. RCR won’t have an opening next season, but there could be a seat waiting if the organization opts to move forward with Gragson.
Childress Compared Hill to a NASCAR Legend
Hill is only a rookie in the Xfinity Series, but he stands out as a solid replacement for Reddick for multiple reasons. He has won in both the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series, and he has shown particular strength on superspeedways.
Another reason why he could be the top option for RCR is an interview that Richard Childress did after the Alsco Uniforms 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 9. He celebrated Hill’s second win of the year and compared the young driver to a NASCAR legend.
“He’s really, really impressed me. Solid,” Childress told NBC Sports after the win. “Nothing shakes him up. No matter how close they’re on his bumper, what’s happening to him, or whatever, he don’t get shook. That’s what it takes. I knew another driver like that. He did pretty well too.”
Childress did not specifically name Dale Earnhardt, but reporter Dave Burns picked up the reference. He added that the other driver was “pretty good at Atlanta” while other members of the broadcast specifically asked if that was a reference to the Hall of Famer. Earnhardt, who won seven Cup Series championships, achieved considerable success at Atlanta Motor Speedway with nine trips to Victory Lane in 46 career starts.
A Family Reunion Could Turn Heads
Hill and Gragson are both up-and-coming options that could make the leap to the Cup Series after Reddick joins 23XI Racing. There is also another driver who currently competes full-time in the Cup Series.
Ty Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, would be an intriguing option for multiple reasons. He could drive for RCR once again for the first time since the 2018 Xfinity Series season, and he could become a teammate of older brother Austin Dillon, who has spent his entire Cup Series career with RCR.
Dillon is currently competing for Petty GMS Motorsports. He is the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro, and he has the immediate goal of reaching the playoffs in the remaining seven regular-season races.
Dillon does not yet have a contract for the 2023 season, per Spotrac, but it’s likely that he returns to Petty GMS Motorsports once again. He told media members ahead of the Coca-Cola 600 that there are discussions taking place behind the scenes. Though his future beyond 2023 remains a question.