January 2023: Inside the Garage, What’s Ahead for NASCAR 2023

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Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL — January 31, 2023

The 2023 Daytona 500 is less than three weeks away. The “Clash at the Coliseum II” runs this Sunday, February 5th. Race fans, it’s time to get those engines revving for another great year of NASCAR Cup Series racing. Let’s take a quick look back at 2022, at what some are calling…..

The Best Season Ever?

After a season that saw the successful debut of a new race car, a record-tying number of winners, fresh faces in Victory Lane, two ‘first-timers’ reaching the Championship 4, and a wall-ride-for-the-ages, it’s easy to become hyperbolic when discussing the 2022 season. So, let’s do just that with this question … did we just witness the most competitive and noteworthy season in NASCAR Cup Series history?

  • 19 Different Winners: The 2022 season tied the NASCAR Cup Series record of the most different winners in a single season (19) all-time; joining 1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001.
  • All-Time Record for Green Flag Passes For The Lead: There were 1,544 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL), the most ever. A green flag pass for the lead, by the way, is defined as a lead change all around the racetrack, and not just at the start/finish line.
  • Nine Races Have Set Records In GFPL: A total of nine different NASCAR Cup Series races have set records in green flag passes for the lead this season, including Circuit of The Americas (30 green flag passes for the lead), Atlanta-1 (141), Las Vegas-1 (57), Bristol Dirt (20) Darlington-1 (28), Kansas-1 (41), Charlotte (64), Nashville (47) and Las Vegas-2 (46).
  • Overall Green Flag Passing Increased Year-Over-Year: In a year-over-year comparison (2021 to 2022), the 2022 season has seen an increase in total green flag passes throughout the field of +6.36%.
  • Second Closest Average Margin of Victory: The average MOV for this season was 1.011 seconds, which is the second closest since the advent of electronic timing and scoring in 1993 (.909 seconds in 2014).
  • Highest Percentage Of Lead Lap Finishers In Modern Era: The 36 races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced an average percentage of 59.46% of the competitors finishing on the lead lap per race – the highest percentage of lead lap finishers through 36 races in the Modern Era (1972-2022).

A Season of Firsts

  • First-year with the Next Gen car, a machine that ushered in a new era of competition in NASCAR.
  • First purpose-built racetrack inside a football stadium (L.A. Memorial Coliseum), a bold schedule vision in which more than 70% of ticket buyers were attending their first NASCAR race and one that kicked open the door for further innovation (see: Chicago Street Race in 2023).
  • Five first-time winners, a Modern Era record (Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, and Tyler Reddick).
  • First season with three graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program winning a NASCAR Cup Series race (Kyle Larson, three wins; Bubba Wallace, one win; Daniel Suarez, one win)

The first and last wall ride into the Cup Series Playoff Final. NASCAR on NBC’s social video of Ross Chastain’s move on the final lap at Martinsville earned more than 50.4 million impressions and 27.9 million video views. NASCAR recently outlawed the moving, saying it is too dangerous to repeat at any sanctioned track.

Deuces are Wild

And a second full of twos. Joey Logano,  the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, won his second NASCAR Cup Series championship (2018 and 2022), becoming the 17th different driver to win multiple championships and just the second active driver to win multiple Cup titles (Kyle Busch).

Logano book-ended his 2022 season with a win in the season-opening Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum and a victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix / NASCAR Photo

Busch Light Clash at the LA Coliseum

After a successful debut last season, the NASCAR Cup Series opens its 2023 campaign with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum for a second straight time. Ford driver Joey Logano kicked off the NASCAR Next Gen era with a victory in his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Mustang to become the first driver to win the Clash at a facility other than Daytona International Speedway.

The Los Angeles Coliseum ready for the 2023 Busch Light Clash / NASCAR Photo

Clash Television Schedule

Saturday, February 4th Broadcast
6 p.m. ET Practice (Group 1, 2, 3) FS1
8:30 p.m. ET Qualifying FS1
Sunday, February 5th
5 p.m. ET Qualifying heat No. 1 FOX
5:15 p.m. ET Qualifying heat No. 2 FOX
5:30 p.m. ET Qualifying heat No. 3 FOX
5:45 p.m. ET Qualifying heat No. 4 FOX
6:10 p.m. ET Last-chance qualifying race No. 1 FOX
6:35 p.m. ET Last-chance qualifying race No. 2 FOX
7:05 p.m. ET Pre-race concert FOX
7:50 p.m. ET Driver introductions FOX
8 p.m. ET Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum FOX

 

What’s New in 2023

As NASCAR celebrates its 75th anniversary season, you may need a program to keep up with the changes for the new year of stock car racing. Kevin Harvick is still in the number four Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang, but only for one more year. The Closer announced this would be his final season behind the wheel. Expect Harvick to step into the broadcast booth when he hangs up his driver’s suit.

Kyle Busch drops the one from his car number as he moves from the 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing to the number eight of Richard Childress Racing. After long-time sponsor Mars candy, the makers of M&M’s, decided to end their sponsorship at the end of 2022. Gibbs let the winningest active driver escape after 15 years with the organization. Making room for Gibbs’s grandson, Ty, to move from the Xfinity series into a full-time Cup ride.

Jimmy Johnson is back in NASCAR. After trying his hand in the IndyCar series, Johnson returned to his roots with a splash. Buying an interest in Petty GMS Racing. The team was rebranded as Legacy Motor Club. This season will be the first in NASCAR history that a team with the Petty name has not competed in Cup competition.

Michigan’s Erik Jones remains with the team driving the iconic 43, and Noah Gragson climbs behind the wheel of the 42, replacing Ty Dillon. Johnson will pilot the number 84 in select races this year, beginning with attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500. Dillon landed in the Number 77 Spire Motorsports ride for 2023.

Ryan Preece finally gets a ride in a top-tier car. He will replace Cole Custer in the No. 41 at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2023. While Custer will move back to the Xfinity Series.

Tyler Reddick moves to the number 45 car after RCR sold the remaining year of his contract to 23XI racing. Reddick takes over for Kurt Busch, who is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms sustained in his crash at Pocono. Busch hopes to drive a limited schedule once he is cleared to drive.

For the first time since 2018, AJ Allmendinger will be back in the Cup Series full-time, driving the No. 16 entry for Kaulig Racing during the 2023 campaign.

Two New Venues Added for 2023

NASCAR announces changes to their Cup Series schedule, bringing the excitement of premier series racing to the streets of Chicago and returning to the famed North Wilkesborough Speedway.

The NASCAR Chicago Street Race will transform DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, and select surrounding thoroughfares into a 12-turn, 2.2-mile course. The start/finish line and pit road will be located along South Columbus Drive directly in front of Buckingham Fountain.

The street race will pass through the famed Grant Park, as well as approach the northern edge of Soldier Field, one of the most notable and recognizable sports venues in the country – and the site of the only other Cup Series race to take place in Downtown Chicago, in 1956.

NASCAR’s annual All-Star Race (Sunday, May 21) will be hosted by North Wilkesboro Speedway – the first time the track will welcome the Cup Series since 1996.

Lastly and most importantly for local NASCAR Cup Series fans. Michigan International Speedway will host a NASCAR Cup Series race for the 55th straight year. The FireKeepers Casino 400 will run on Sunday, Aug. 6, as part of NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary Season.

Get ready, race fans. It could be The Best Season Ever.