A look at Cup driver uniforms for 2023

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It won’t be long before cars are on track for the Feb. 5 Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Before the action takes place there, check out the driver uniforms for the 2023 Cup season.

Listed below are the drivers, based on their car numbers. Driver uniform pictures are not yet available for AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Erik Jones, Ty Gibbs and Ty Dillon. The rest of the drivers with chartered teams are displayed here.

 

1 – Ross Chastain

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

2 – Austin Cindric

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

3 – Austin Dillon

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

4 – Kevin Harvick

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

5 – Kyle Larson

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

6 – Brad Keselowski

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

7 – Corey LaJoie

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

8 – Kyle Busch

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

9 – Chase Elliott

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

10 – Aric Almirola

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

11 – Denny Hamlin

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

12 – Ryan Blaney

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

14 – Chase Briscoe

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

17 – Chris Buescher

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

19 – Martin Truex Jr.

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

20 – Christopher Bell

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

21 – Harrison Burton

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

22 – Joey Logano

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

23 – Bubba Wallace

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

24 – William Byron

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

31 – Justin Haley

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

34 – Michael McDowell

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

38 – Todd Gilliland

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

41 – Ryan Preece

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

45 – Tyler Reddick

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

48 – Alex Bowman

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

51 – Cody Ware

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

78 – BJ McLeod

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

99 – Daniel Suarez

2023 NASCAR Production Days
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

 

Who’s the next new winner in the Cup Series?

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Among the surprising developments in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season — and there were many — is the fact that five drivers rolled into a Cup Victory Lane for the first time.

Rookie Austin Cindric started the points season with a stunner by winning the Daytona 500. Chase Briscoe scored at Phoenix. Ross Chastain (COTA), Daniel Suarez (Sonoma) and Tyler Reddick (Road America) all recorded their first Cup victories on road courses.

What does 2023 hold for drivers looking for a breakthrough victory? Although strange things are possible in NASCAR’s new world, it doesn’t seem likely that the new season will see as many as five first-time winners.

Approaching the start of the season, the three top candidates to join the list of Cup winners might be Ty Gibbs, Ryan Preece and Noah Gragson.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Things to watch for in 2023

Preece replaces Cole Custer in the No. 41 car at Stewart-Haas Racing, a team that has been sagging a bit but remains a threat to win almost every week. Preece has raced in Cup 115 times without a win, but the move into a full-time ride at SHR clearly gives him his best shot.

A veteran of numerous racing series, Preece has won twice in Xfinity and twice in trucks. And he’ll have the extra surge that comes from trying to cash in on a long-time-coming opportunity.

Gibbs will draw unusual amounts of attention in his first full season in Cup. He replaces Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing in one of the sport’s best cars, and he’ll be expected to perform more quickly than the average rookie.

Gibbs won the Xfinity Series championship last season but created a string of controversy along the way, most prominently by wrecking teammate Brandon Jones on the last lap at Martinsville, preventing Jones from a win that would have put him in the Xfinity Championship Four.

Gibbs’ aggressive racing style might be more difficult to sustain at the Cup level.

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

Gragson will be the season’s wild card. His offbeat personality and fast-forward driving style made him a star in the Xfinity Series, where he won 13 times. He moves to the Petty GMS team to start his full-time Cup career. Petty GMS has been a second-level team but won last year’s Southern 500 with Erik Jones and could be on the upswing with Gragson’s talent and the addition of new co-owner Jimmie Johnson.

Spire Motorsports’ two drivers — Corey LaJoie and newcomer Ty Dillon — are looking for first wins. LaJoie has had one top-five finish in five mostly-full seasons. Dillon has had two top fives in 202 starts.

Harrison Burton had one top-five finish in his rookie season with Wood Brothers Racing last year. The next victory for the Woods, who are winless since the 2017 season, will be the team’s 100th in Cup.

Todd Gilliland, another rookie last year, had one top-five run for Front Row Motorsports and returns to that team this season.

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Season scorecard: A new mix for the new year

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Deep into December, the start of the 2023 NASCAR season seems far away, but shops have been busy getting cars and plans ready for the new year.

Some teams have new faces in new places. The biggest change for the new year will be Kyle Busch sitting in the No. 8 Chevrolets at Richard Childress Racing after winning championships with Joe Gibbs Racing. Ty Gibbs replaces Busch but will drive JGR’s No. 54. Ryan Preece moves into the No. 41 at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Tyler Reddick joins 23XI Racing.

A look at Silly Season as the calendar approaches 2023:

Cup Series

No. 1: Ross Chastain, the surprise driver of 2022, returns to keep the fire burning — and the watermelons smashing — at Trackhouse Racing.

No. 2: Austin Cindric, Daytona 500 winner and rookie of the year, returns to Team Penske.

No. 3: Austin Dillon returns in Richard Childress Racing’s flagship number.

MORE: NBC Power Rankings: The best of one-hit wonders

No. 4: Kevin Harvick will seek a return to playoff power.

No. 5: Signed by Hendrick Motorsports through 2026, Kyle Larson drives toward a second championship.

No. 6: Now firmly established as the boss at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Brad Keselowski will look to boost RFK’s profile in his second season there.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie returns, and why not put his face on his car hood for Daytona again?

No. 8: After a long and successful run at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch joins Richard Childress Racing. What will happen? Just watch.

No. 9: Chase Elliott might be in this car for the rest of his career. He’s signed through 2027.

No. 10: Aric Almirola announced his retirement but made an abrupt U-turn and will return to this car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Bring the bacon.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin tries again to nab that first championship.

MORE: Sometimes you just gotta laugh…some NASCAR funnies

No. 12: Ryan Blaney, “Mr. Almost But No Point Wins in 2022,” is back with Team Penske.

No. 14: A return to Stewart-Haas Racing for one of the surprise drivers — Chase Briscoe — of 2022.

No. 15: Several drivers will share this ride for Rick Ware Racing.

No. 16: AJ Allmendinger jumps back into Cup full-time for Kaulig Racing.

No. 17: Chris Buescher scored RFK Racing’s first win this season.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. considered retirement for a while but will be back with JGR for at least another year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell was Mr. Magic in the 2022 playoffs. He’s back for another shot.

No. 21: Harrison Burton returns for another season in the iconic Wood Brothers car.

No. 22: The champ, Joey Logano, won’t be leaving the Penske ride.

No. 23: Bubba Wallace is back.

No. 24: William Byron remains at Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 31: Justin Haley makes another run for Kaulig Racing.

No. 34: Michael McDowell returns to Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: Todd Gilliland back at FRM for his sophomore season.

MORE: Spiders? Snakes? What scares NASCAR drivers?

No. 41: Ryan Preece takes over this ride from Cole Custer in 2023.

No. 42: Noah Gragson, fresh from a sensational season in Xfinity, moves up to Cup with the new and improved Petty GMS team, now co-owned by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson plans to run a part-time Cup schedule with the team — car number not yet known.

No. 43: The King’s car will carry Erik Jones again.

No. 45: Tyler Reddick drives from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI in one of Silly Season’s biggest moves.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse returns.

No. 48: Alex Bowman expected back full-time after missing several races late in 2022 with concussion-like symptoms.

No. 51: Cody Ware and possibly other drivers will be in this ride.

No. 54: Ty Gibbs will drive this car, while Joe Gibbs Racing parks the No. 18 for the 2023 season.

No. 77: Ty Dillon moves from Petty GMS to race for Spire.

No. 78: Josh Bilicki will drive part-time for Live Fast Motorsports.

No. 99: Daniel Suarez, now a Cup winner, is back for Trackhouse.

Xfinity Series

No. 00: Cole Custer returns to the Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing after three years in Cup.

No. 1: Sam Mayer returns to JR Motorsports for a second season.

No. 2: Sheldon Creed returns to Richard Childress Racing.

No. 4: Bayley Currey is back at JD Motorsports.

No. 6: Brennan Poole is on board at JD Motorsports.

No. 7: Justin Allgaier returns to JR Motorsports for another shot at an elusive title.

No. 8: Josh Berry looks to reach the playoffs again for JR Motorsports.

No. 9: Brandon Jones departed Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for JR Motorsports.

No. 10: Landon Cassill is back with Kaulig Racing.

No. 11: Daniel Hemric returns with Kaulig Racing.

No. 16: Chandler Smith moves into the Kaulig Racing vacancy left by AJ Allmendinger.

No. 18: Sammy Smith driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

No. 19: Ryan Truex will run a part-time schedule for Joe Gibbs.

No. 20: John Hunter Nemecheck driving for JGR.

No. 21: Austin Hill returns to Richard Childress Racing and also will run six Cup races for Beard Motorsports.

No. 24: Connor Mosack with Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 25: Brett Moffitt on board with AM Racing.

No. 26: Kaz Grala runs Xfinity full-time for Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 34: Jesse Iwuji and Kyle Weatherman possible drivers here.

No. 39: Ryan Sieg back for another season.

No. 44: Jeffrey Earnhardt will drive full-time for Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 45: Ryan Ellis and Saga Karam on board at Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 48: Parker Kligerman will run Xfinity full time for the first time since 2013.

No. 51: Jeremy Clements back with his family team.

No. 78: Garrett Smithley will race full time for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

No. 98: Riley Herbst returns to this ride and will have Cole Custer as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

 

 

Dr Diandra: The best driver of 2022

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NASCAR’s elimination playoff format means that the driver with the best statistics — arguably the “best driver of 2022” — doesn’t always win the championship.

Races unfinished

Drivers involved in a lot of crashes also failed to finish a lot of races. But not all accidents end drivers’ races. Comparing accidents and spins to DNF (did not finish) totals helps gauge how serious those incidents were.

Ross Chastain and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were involved in the most accidents for a single driver with 15 caution-causing crashes each. The difference is that Chastain had only five DNFs (33.3%), while Stenhouse had nine (60.0%).

Ty Dillion tied Stenhouse for the most DNFs in the series with nine DNFs and 10 accidents.

Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon and Corey LaJoie tied for third place with eight DNFs each. Reddick had 10 accidents, while Dillon and LaJoie were each involved in 11 crashes.

No driver avoided DNFs entirely. Among full-timers, Michael McDowell had the fewest DNFs in 2022 with two. Justin Haley and Ryan Blaney tied for second with three DNFs each.

In 2021, only Denny Hamlin finished every race running. This year he had five DNFs, with four in the first nine races.

This year’s 225 DNFs are up significantly from 179 in 2021. and the most DNFs since 2017. I’ll be watching in 2023 to see if the rise in DNFs continues, or if this was a one-time phenomenon due to the first year with a new car.

Wins

“Best driver” doesn’t necessarily mean most wins.

This year’s champion, Joey Logano, didn’t have the most wins. That’s not at all uncommon in NASCAR. With 19 different winners in 2022, no driver dominated the season the way Kyle Larson did in 2021 with 10 wins.

The winningest drivers in 2022 were: Chase Elliott (five wins) and Logano (four wins). Christopher Bell, Larson and Reddick tied for third with three wins each.

Top-five and top-10 finishes

While wins matter more than good finishes, the number of top-five and top-10 finishes show how close a driver got to taking home the checkered flag. Running up front means being there to take advantage of other drivers’ mistakes and misfortune.

In 2021, Larson had the most top-five finishes (20) and the most top-10 finishes (26). This year, good finishes were much more spread out.2022's best drivers in terms of top-five and top-ten finishes

Chastain deserves a special shoutout for having 13 more top-10 finishes than he earned in 2021.

Also deserving of a shoutout, but for different reasons: Hamlin had the same number of wins this year as last, but nine fewer top-five finishes. William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. also had nine fewer finishes in the top five.

Logging laps

While Truex didn’t make the championship race, he did tie Elliott for the most lead-lap finishes in the season with 29, or 80.6% of starts. Blaney, Byron and Kevin Harvick each had 28 lead-lap finishes.

Elliott led the most laps in 2022 with 857. He’s followed by Logano (784), Byron (746), Chastain (692) and Blaney (636).

I remain slightly wary of metrics that purport to measure quickness because so much of a car’s speed depends on where in the field it’s running. Lap traffic, or even being far back in the field, can slow fast cars. That’s especially true at short tracks.

For completeness, however, the next two tables show the drivers’ numbers of fastest laps and those with the best rank in green-flag speed according to NASCAR’s loop data.

Two tables showing the drivers with the most fastest laps and the highest rank in green-flag speedChampion Logano ranked 11th in fastest laps with 319, and eighth in overall green-flag speed with an average ranking of 9.281.

Best Finishes

The tables below show drivers’ rankings throughout the season for average finishes and average running position.

Two tables comparing 2022's best drivers in terms of average finish and average running position

Elliott ranks first in both average finish and running position. Chastain takes second for best average finish and fourth for best average running position, while Blaney is second for running position and fourth for finishing position.

Logano finished 2022 third in both metrics.

Passing

NASCAR defines a quality pass as a pass for position inside the top 15. Interpreting the meaning of the number of passes is a little tricky. A driver who runs up front a lot doesn’t make many quality passes because he doesn’t need to.

I focus instead on the percentage of quality passes: the fraction of all green-flag passes that qualify as quality passes. A higher percentage means that the driver is efficient: The passes mean something.

Elliott scores first in percentage of quality passes with 63.4%, just edging out Bell, who has 63.3% quality passes. Larson is third with 61.2%.

Who was the best driver in 2022?

I combined the metrics I think matter most for determining the best driver in the table below. I color-coded drivers who appear in the top five in more than one metric to make it easier to see patterns.

A table showing the top five in each of the metrics discussed in the hopes of identifying 2022's best driver.

This table confirms that the NASCAR playoffs format did a good job identifying the top four drivers in the series. Elliott, Logano, Chastain and Bell are well-represented in the top five in each metric.

The table also shows that Larson and Blaney contended strongly in 2022. With a slightly different distribution of luck, one (or both) might have found their way to the Championship Four.

Logano’s consistency is also evident, even though he doesn’t rank first in any of these metrics and fails to make the table in top-five finishes or quality passes. It’s not uncommon for the driver with the most wins not to win the championship. And this year has been anything but common.

But overall, it’s hard not to argue that Elliott had the statistically best year. He led the series in wins, laps led, average finish, average running position and percent quality passes. If his playoffs had been comparable to his regular season, he would have taken the trophy.

But they weren’t and he didn’t. That may have ended the 2022 season on a down note for the No. 9 team, but they can look forward to 2023 knowing they have a strong base on which to build.

While skill is reproducible, luck isn’t.

Dr. Diandra: 2022 by the numbers – Penalties

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NASCAR’s 2022 penalties fall into three categories.

  • The most common pre-race penalties are failing inspection, switching to a backup car or making unapproved adjustments.
  • In-race penalties are issued to drivers and crew on pit road (such as speeding and too many crew members over the wall) and on-track penalties such as yellow line violations and running over the choose box.
  • Post-race violations may stem from an incident during the race, like a loose wheel, or they may arise from post-race inspections, either at the track or at NASCAR’s Research & Development Center.

Penalties can significantly impact a driver’s race. With racing as close as it was in 2022, every penalty matters. That’s why I pulled together every penalty issued by NASCAR in the 2022 season to determine who made the most — and the fewest — mistakes.

Method

NASCAR issued a total of 808 penalties in the 2022 season, but not all of those penalties are mistakes.

Crew chiefs often choose to pit before pit road is open when the penalty for doing so is less important than getting the car to the pit box. That may be because the car is damaged, or the driver is running so far back in the field that it won’t make much of a difference.

I eliminated all pitting before pit road is open. I also axed any penalties issued on the same pit stop. If you pit while pit road is closed, it doesn’t make much difference if you send more people over the wall than allowed when the car arrives.

Following the same rationale, I removed penalties issued on pit road where the offending car went to garage.

Different sources often cite different penalty numbers, depending on what they include. The graphic below shows my breakdown of the 2022 Cup Series penalties.

A diagram showing the breakdown of the 808 total 2022 penalties in the Cup Series

Once the 406 intentional penalties are subtracted, that leaves 402 unintentional penalties.

Of the unintentional penalties:

  • 102 (25.3%) were levied pre-race. That’s down from 2021, when there were 128 pre-race penalties.
  • 273 (68.0%) were imposed during races. That continues a downward trend from 317 last year and 337 the year before
  • 27 (6.7%) were imposed after races.

Of the 402 unintentional penalties, 188 (46.8%) are attributable to drivers. The crew gets the blame for 204 (50.7%). I couldn’t definitively pin the remaining 10 penalties on either group.

Pre-race penalties

Unapproved adjustments comprised 67.6% of all pre-race penalties. Going to a backup car and inspection failures tie for a distant second with 10.8% each.

No team incurred more than five pre-race penalties. On the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Dillon had no pre-race penalties.

The table below compares 2022 pre-race penalties with prior years. Recall that the 2020 season was interrupted by COVID, which changed the practice, qualifying and inspection timelines.

A table breaking down the 2022 penalties for pre-race violations

Inspection failures significantly declined this year, no doubt aided by the uniformity of single-source parts. Unapproved adjustments continued rising. Two rained-out practices at Atlanta likely kept the backup car count a little lower than it might be otherwise.

In-race penalties

I consolidated in-race penalties to maintain a manageable number of categories. For example, ‘equipment related’ includes penalties for throwing or tossing equipment, equipment over the wall too early, equipment interference, etc.

Drivers incurred 163 (59.7%) of the 2022 in-race penalties, as shown in the pie chart below on the left. The remaining 101 in-race penalties assessed to crew members are shown on the pie chart on the right side.

A pie chart showing the 2022 penalties incurred by drivers. A pie chart showing the 2022 penalties incurred by crew members

Speeding on pit road comprised the largest driver contribution, with 122 citations. Speeding accounts for almost 75% of driver penalties.

The top pit-road speeder in 2022 was B.J. McLeod, who was nabbed 11 times in just 29 races. Of full-time competitors, Corey LaJoie notched eight speeding penalties and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. seven. Rounding out the top five were Truex with six and Daniel Suárez with five.

The only full-time drivers who didn’t garner a single speeding on pit road penalty this year are series champion Joey Logano and Chase Elliott.

Equipment-related penalties account for more than one-third of the total penalties incurred by pit crews. Crew member(s) over the wall too soon comes in second, and too many crew members over the wall follows in third place. Note that tire violations in this graph do not include loose wheels.

Kyle Busch’s No. 18 team was the most penalized during race with a total of eight penalties. Ty Dillon’s No. 42 team had six in-race penalties while the teams of Suárez (five), Cody Ware and Denny Hamlin each had five.

Joe Gibbs Racing had the most crew penalties with 19 across four cars. Hendrick Motorsports, with the same number of cars, had only eight crew penalties.

Post-race penalties

There were only 27 post-race penalties; however, post-race penalties tend to carry heavier consequences: fines, points penalties and suspensions.

I counted 15 loose-wheel penalties in 2022, although additional loose wheels were caught before they became penalties. It will be interesting to see if that number goes down next year as familiarity with the new wheel increases.

The series also racked up four behavioral penalties, two disqualifications, three L1-penalties and three L2 penalties.

Totals

The graph below shows the total penalties — pre-, in- and post-race — for drivers who ran all 36 races and finished the season in the top 30. If you’re interested in more detailed information, you can find it in my post on buildingspeed.org.

Busch and Hamlin make the top of this list, with 18 total penalties for Busch and 16 for Hamlin. Both JGR drivers had four speeding penalties. Busch’s crew had four equipment penalties while Hamlin’s had three. Both drivers had a loose-wheel penalty during the season. Both were disqualified at Pocono. But where Busch accounted for only four of the team’s 18 penalties (22.2%), Hamlin generated six of 16 (37.5%).

The least-penalized drivers of 2022 are the teams of Logano, Blaney and Chase Briscoe. Each team had four penalties.

Logano’s crew got one penalty and the other three were pre-race penalties due to needing a backup car twice and one case of unapproved adjustments. Logano had no driver penalties in 2022.

Blaney, however, had three speeding penalties. His team takes the blame for a loose wheel. Briscoe’s team split the penalties evenly between driver and crew.

Elliott finished the year with five penalties total.

These numbers show that making mistakes definitely hurt a driver’s chances of winning. But not making mistakes doesn’t guarantee success, either.