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DIVEBOMB’s NASCAR 2023 Season Awards

Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Image Credit - Sean Gardner/Getty Images

One of the most exciting seasons in NASCAR history recently came to a conclusion, with Ryan Blaney taking the championship in exciting fashion, battling it out with Kyle Larson in the final laps, and ultimately rising up to above and beyond, taking his first NASCAR Championship.


In this article, the NASCAR staff will be handing out imaginary awards to the best drivers, pit crews, crew chief, and teams for the 2023 season. These awards aren't given only based on wins and popularity, but strength and actual performance.


Regular Season Most Valuable Driver: #24 William Byron, Hendrick Motorsport

Byron won five races in the regular season in 2023; Image Credits - Nigel Kinrade Photography

Even though I mentioned that these awards aren't only given based on wins and popularity, William Byron had one of the most well rounded seasons in the history of NASCAR. He ended the regular season with 13 top ten finishes, 9 top five finishes, and 5 wins.


In addition, he only had three DNFs, and only five races finishing outside the top 20. I debated Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Larson as worthy winners of the regular season most valuable driver, but every week of the season, people were asking the question: “Who could beat out William Byron?”


The feeling of inevitability when you are squaring up against him, the ability to make the correct decisions, and always being in the fight for top ten, top five, and race wins. Despite not winning the regular season championship, or the Cup Series Championship, Byron has proved exactly why he deserves to be a part of the conversation for the 2024 Championship. That is why William Byron is my pick for the 2023 NASCAR Regular season Most Valuable Driver.


Best Pit Crew: #5 Pit Crew, Hendrick Motorsport

This is not an easy pick, as there are a lot of pit crews deserving recognition. The #24 team has been the most consistent crew, limiting major mistakes, especially on money stops. The #10 crew also had a lot of great performances, delivering great pit stops week in, week out.


On the other hand, the #11 crew continue to perform at top level, consistently bringing sub-12 seconds pit stops, helping Denny Hamlin overtake opponents on pit road, assisting Hamlin to multiple wins.


However, the best pit crew is undoubtedly the #5 team of Hendrick Motorsport. Throughout the season, the #5 pit crew has kept Larson in a lot of the races, including the Championship four race, where the crew boosted Larson ahead of Blaney and Byron in the final pit stop, although Larson was inevitably overtaken by Blaney in the final laps of the race.


The #5 crew has been clutch in money stops, while committing little to no mistakes through 36 races. They absolutely deserve the title of the best pit crew.

The #5 Pit crew at work; Image Credit - Hendrick Motorsport

Most Improved Driver: #17 Chris Buescher, RFK Racing

The most improved driver of the season is undoubtedly Chris Buescher of RFK Racing. After years of missing the playoffs since his rookie season, into his eighth season in the Cup Series, he finally made a return to the playoffs, and is establishing himself as one of the top Ford drivers and a contender for the championship.


After being fairly average for most of the season, he burst onto the scene by securing back-to-back wins in Richmond and Michigan, later securing his third of the season in an overtime thriller at Daytona.


In the playoffs, he went on a run all the way to the round of 8. Although he was eliminated, Buescher finished the season strong with a fifth place finish in Phoenix, which secured him seventh in the overall standings. He made one hell of a turnaround compared to his previous season, and definitely deserves the title of most improved driver.


Best Overall Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

This season, Joe Gibbs Racing has one of the most impressive lineups. Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. led the way for JGR, picking up eight wins throughout the season, while all making the playoffs.


On the other hand, Ty Gibbs did a great job throughout the year, securing four top-five finishes throughout the 2023 season, and came close to a win on multiple occasions. A solid season for the rookie, where he finished 18th in the final championship standings.


Hamlin and Truex Jr made it to the round of eight, while Christopher Bell made it all the way to the final four, but suffered an unlucky brake failure, leading to his retirement. Still, this was yet another extremely successful year for JGR, and they will be looking to send one of their drivers to the top spot in 2024.

Ty Gibbs impressed in his rookie season; Image Credits - David Rosenblum/NKP

Rookie Of The Year: #54 Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing

In the first year of the rookie Ty Gibbs, he secured great results with the #54 car. As a rookie, he only suffered four DNFs and five finishes outside the top 20 in the regular season, while securing seven top-ten finishes, and two top-five finishes. He has shown flashes of potential, while staying out of trouble for most of the time.


He would need to improve his consistency to become a true postseason contender, as he experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout his first postseason in the Cup Series. However, the future is bright for the rookie, and he definitely is worthy of being called ‘Rookie of the year.’


Postseason Most Valuable Driver: #12 Ryan Blaney, Team Penske

We close off the awards list with the postseason most valuable driver, and it is undoubtedly the champion Ryan Blaney. Throughout the entire postseason, he only had one DNF, one finish below 20th place, and closed off the final three races of the postseason with two second places, and a win in Martinsville.


He also took a win in Talladega, and two other top-ten finishes in Darlington and Las Vegas.


He showed his skills, and is a championship caliber driver, with clutch time performances when it was time for him to perform. His comeback in Phoenix also showed he has the mentality of a winner, never giving up and giving it all till the end, which led him to winning his first championship.


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