Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
With the 2023 NASCAR pre-season kicking off, it makes for a great time to preview the upcoming season. In this piece, we discuss the key races to watch out for, new drivers, and dark horses to win the championship. There will be 26 regular season races in 2023, commencing from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 19th. The all-star break will take place on May 21st, at North Wilkesboro, NC.
The first race to watch out for is obviously the season opener, the iconic Daytona 500. Huge crashes, bump drafting, and breathtaking final laps make for exciting races. The drivers will drive 200 laps around the Daytona oval. Daytona has been the scene of some unexpected victories, most recently when rookie Austin Cindric took his first victory in NASCAR, last season.
Another race that has got people excited about, is the Chicago Street Course. The 2.2 mile long course goes around the streets of Chicago, consisting of long straights and 90 degree turns, and provides a lot of overtaking opportunities for the drivers. This is a brand new track, and is set to be the first street race in NASCAR’s history.
There are also a couple of new drivers joining the series, with AJ Allmendinger returning to the Cup Series, having left in 2018. He will drive for Kaulig Racing, in the #16 car. Other talents coming from the XFinity series include Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson, who will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and Legacy Motor Club (also known as Petty GMS) respectively. Ryan Preece is another driver that will join the Cup Series, driving the #41 car of Stewart-Haas Racing.
This season also consists of a huge field that could all be contending for the Championship. The top dogs such as Joey Logano, Chase Elliot, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin. and more will definitely be in the spotlight. But what of the underdogs? A dark horse that could emerge out of the shadows, similar to Bell last year?
One would definitely be Ryan Preece. Despite an electrical problem limiting him to 7th place, he has shown that he has short-track overtaking skills, in the pre-season exhibition race at Los Angeles. This gives him advantages in road courses and short ovals such as COTA, Richmond, Martinsville and more. He could secure a playoff berth in any of these tracks, and don’t be surprised if he actually does.
Another would be Martin Truex Jr. After missing the playoffs by mere points, and considering retirement in 2022, the 41 year-old came back for the 2023 season, and started off with a bang. Can the 2017 champion return with a huge championship run against the top drivers? We’ll find out soon enough.
2022 has been a very exciting year for NASCAR fans, and this should be another year that will produce an enthralling championship.