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  • Ryan Hendrix

NASCAR Season Preview

With the Daytona 500 just around the corner, the 2023 Nascar season is upon us. If you haven’t been keeping up with all the news coming out over the off-season, there is plenty different about this new year. From new drivers, new teams and even new tracks this is all you need to know about before the green flag waves at Daytona this Sunday.

DRIVER CHANGES:


Kyle Busch to the #8 RCR Chevrolet -


Two time Cup series champion Kyle Busch has moved on from his iconic #18 Toyota he drove for many years at Joe Gibbs Racing. He moves on to drive for Richard Childress in the famous #8 replacing our next driver.


Tyler Reddick to the #45 23Xl Toyota -


Young star Tyler Reddick decided to take his talents over to the Michael Jordan owned 23Xl camp. He announced this move midway last season which left his former owner Richard Childress angry. That debacle almost left Reddick without a ride this season but luckily the two sides were able to agree on a buyout and Reddick gets a fresh opportunity.


Ty Gibbs to the #54 JGR Toyota -


Moving up from the Xfinity series where he won the 2022 title is Ty Gibbs. Grandson of owner Joe Gibbs he has been their top prospect for years now. Now driving in cup full time he replaces Kyle Busch and replaces the #18 with the #54.


Aj Allmendinger to the #16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet -


Also going full time cup after competing for a Xfinity title the past two seasons is Aj Allmendinger. He stays in the same car he was driving in part time last season. Known as a road course specialist, watch for “The Dinger” to make the playoffs this season.


Noah Gragson to the #42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet -


Completing our trifecta of Xfinity series stars going to cup is Noah Gragson. He moves on to the newly renamed Legacy Motor Club to drive for Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson. Seen as a raw talent, having two 7-time champion owners will help him settle in.


Ty Dillon to the #77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet -


A lesser known move was Ty Dillon going to drive for Spire after getting ousted from his ride at Legacy Motor Club. Mostly seen as a back of the pack team he will try to carve out his niche in the cup series like his brother Austin Dillon has in the #3.


Ryan Preece to the #41 Stewart Haas Ford -


Replacing Cole Custer in the #41 is Ryan Preece. Preece has been full time for cup in the past most notably driving the #37 for JTG Daughtery. He has had some success but has never been able to crack through to the playoff level of competition. Getting a fresh start driving for Tony Stewart may do him wonders.


Todd Gilliand to a part time schedule -


Just announced last week was that #38 Front Row Motorsports driver Todd Gilliland will be sharing his ride with defending truck series champion Zane Smith. Dissapointing news for Gilliland despite struggles in the ride last season. Reasons for the change are cited as sponsorship troubles. On the other side however, this is a wonderful opportunity for Smith who will also drive in the Daytona 500 in the #36 car as an open entry.


Jimmie Johnson unretires -


One of the top 5 in NASCAR history and 7-time cup series champion Jimmie Johnson has come out of retirement to drive a part time schedule in the #84 for Legacy Motor Club which he has an ownership stake in. He plans to drive the big races like the Daytona 500 and the Coke 600.


Daytona 500 exclusives:


This tier is for drivers who are in a new car but only for the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500.


Travis Pastrana #67 23Xl Toyota

Chandler Smith #13 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

Connor Daly #50 TMT Chevrolet

Zane Smith #36 Front Row Motorsports Ford

Austin Hill #62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet


NEW TRACKS:


Chicago Street Course:


The biggest new track of the season is when the cup cars go racing on the streets of Chicago on Fourth of July weekend this summer. In an effort to bring more NASCAR to the Midwest, they will try their first ever street course race the way F1 and IndyCar does it. Should be an exciting event.


All Star Race at North Wilkesboro:


Appealing to the older generation is the return of the famous short track in the Appalachian Mountains, North Wilkesboro. After falling into disrespair for many years, track revival efforts showed the surface is still ready to be raced on. Now NASCAR will give it a test run in a non points paying race like the All Star Race. With the event selling out within an hour, safe to say the excitement is high.


NEW TEAMS:


Legacy Motor Club:


While not truly a new team, it is the closest we have this year. With Jimmie Johnson buying stake in the program, Petty GMS rebranded into Legacy Motor Club. It will continue to field the #43 and #42 full time and add the #84 for part of the year.


FINAL THOUGHT:


While this season may be similar to the last with the teams still running the same NEXTGEN car as 2022, there are subtle changes that can help the product. One is that if a wheel falls off the car, the crew chief won’t be suspended 4 weeks anymore. And remember Ross Chastain sending it off the wall at Martinsville? That’s now outlawed as well. Overall however, NASCAR should have another good season that brings in younger fans.


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