July is here, and for any racing fan that means one thing: Silly Season is in full swing. Rides are open on some big teams, including the biggest seat in NASCAR. The No. 88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be available at the end of the season due to Earnhardt’s retirement and there is more than one driver who would like to be Hendricks Motorsport’s next driver.

Will experience or youth be prized this Silly Season?

The pool of potential drivers that each team will pull from is a deep one indeed. There are veterans like Matt Kenseth, who has been driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota for some time now.

Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. started racing in NASCAR together and have grown their careers to superstardom on tracks across the country. Kenseth recently lost his ride with Joe Gibbs racing and is currently in the market for a team that can value his experience and talent, making him an excellent possibility for the No. 88 car. Brad Keselowski is another veteran that may be looking to become Earnhardt’s successor. Keselowski has been driving the No. 2 Penske Ford and most likely will continue to do so, however, his contract is up at the end of the season and no formal announcement has been made regarding a return.

On the other hand, with the shuffling of drivers and seats going on at this time of year, there is also the possibility that a young, hungry driver will be sitting in Earnhardt’s seat when the dust settles.

Both Kyle Larson, who is currently driving the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet and Ryan Blaney, who has been driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, are at the end of their contracts. Their hunger for winning and their youth could be just what Rick Hendricks is looking for on his team, which already has a solid veteran in Jimmy Johnson.

NASCAR has been a favorable place for the young lions of racing to have a place to grow into superstars.

NASCAR is about to begin a new era

NASCAR is standing on the brink of a new era. For the first time since 1976 there will not be a Dale Earnhardt in the field. Dale Earnhardt Sr. left a gaping hole when he passed away, a hole that Dale Earnhardt Jr filled in his own way.

Now, however, there will be another empty space and the driver that steps into the No. 88 car will have an opportunity to help define a new era for the sport.

Whether experience and skill, or youth and hunger are prized this Silly Season, only time will tell which is more valuable to teams this year. Several big teams are looking to confirm contracts and solidify their teams; however, no seat is more coveted than that of the No. 88 Chevrolet being vacated by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The driver that steps into that seat just may have the opportunity to drive NASCAR into the future.

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