Things to watch in 2023
After the calendar flips to a new year, it’s now just a few weeks before another season of NASCAR, the longest running sport, kicks into gear.
As NASCAR continues to test new playing fields and new approaches to the 75-year-old sport, there is much to look forward to heading into the 2023 season.
NASCAR Power Rankings: What to Expect in 2023
1. Daytona 500 – Despite new wrinkles, new territories and the constant flow of drivers moving from team to team, the Great American Race should always be the most anticipated event of any NASCAR season. Over the years, many have become classics; only a few were duds. A packed field of cars roars out of turn four at Daytona International Speedway to start another points season fueling the fire for another year.
2. Chicago Street Race – Maybe it’s exciting. It might be disappointing. It’s probably somewhere in the middle. But if it does happen, the July 2nd race, a big departure for NASCAR, will draw a lot of attention. NASCAR drivers racing along the shores of Lake Michigan, with Chicago skyscrapers towering above them? A country definitely not discovered.
3. North Wilkesboro All-Star Race — Fans of one of NASCAR’s oldest tracks never gave up hope that racing would return to North Wilkesboro Speedway after the Cup Series left in 1996. The series was gone and largely forgotten by much of the racing community. In May, it returns in a big way, hosting the annual All-Star Race of the Cup Series, whose recent history is not filled with happiness. Wilkesboro should change that.
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4. Kyle Busch and RCR – This strange pair is the most watched team as the new year opens. Once combatants in a brief garage-area scuffle, Busch and team owner Richard Childress will try to recreate the magic that produced six Cup championships for RCR when Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel of the 3 Chevrolets. Busch leaves behind ten more years of success at Joe Gibbs Racing.
5. Ross Chatain’s next chapter – Chestnut entered the Cup scene like an exploding watermelon last year, winning twice, troubling a team of drivers with questionable aggression and challenging for a championship that would have been very unlikely. No longer the New Guy and with a reputation for controversy, this year could be very challenging for Chastain.
6. James Johnson returns – The seven-time champion, now part owner of Petty GMS, plans to return to the track in part of the Chevrolet team roster. His first race back is expected to be the Daytona 500, a race he has won twice.
7. 20 winners? – The 2022 season produced 19 different winners, tying the all-time record for a single Cup season. Could 2023 be as productive?
8. Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson reach the Cup – The two biggest stars in the Xfinity Series move to full-time Cup racing and try to make an early mark.
9. NASCAR at Le Mans — NASCAR will have a major on-track presence in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s greatest endurance race, for the first time since 1976. Hendrick Motorsports will run a Camaro through the “Garage 56” program the event on June 10-11 race. Championship team leader Chad Knaus is leading the effort. The driver line-up has not been announced, but winning sports car driver Mike Rockenfeller is expected to anchor the team. Former Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are considered possibilities.
10. Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing – Reddick had a breakout season last year with three wins for Richard Childress Racing. Along the way, he made some of the biggest news of the year by announcing that he would be moving to 23XI Racing for the 2024 season. There was immediate speculation that some kind of deal would be worked out for Reddick. early arrival – for the 2023 season – at 23XI. That happened, and his progress with one of the sport’s rising teams will be a big story this year.
Honorable Mentions: The season-opening Clash returns to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a second run. … Kevin Harvick will be racing into the final year of his contract with Stewart-Haas Racing in his final full-time season as a driver as well. … Martin Truex Jr. will try. and Ryan Blaney to bounce back from a season in which neither won a points race.
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