Larson in class of his own in North Wilkesboro All-Star Race

Larson gave the 23 other Cup drivers in what he described as an “old-school ass whipping” by comfortably winning his third All-Star Race in Sunday night’s 200-lap race around the revived North Wilkesboro Speedway, leading 145 laps, and taking home $1 million dollars.

  • Kyle Larson
  • Bubba Wallace
  • Rest of race recap
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Full race results

Larson’s strategy winning move came on lap 18 when crew chief Cliff Daniels had him pit for fresh tyres while the top half of the field stayed out including leaders Suarez and Hamlin, and despite receiving a speeding penalty for speeding on pit road that sent him to restart the race in the rear in 24th place, by lap 55 he was overtaking Daniel Suarez for the lead and pulled a 12-second lead by the time the 100-lap competition break came around.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet (1st), and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet (2nd), lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 21, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace attempted to match Larson’s pace in the final 100 laps but Larson maintained a four-second lead over the 23XI Racing driver to take himself with his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to a third All-Star Race win at a third different track, the first two coming at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019 and Texas Motor Speedway in 2021.

Larson said: “So much fun there. That was an old-school ass whipping, for sure. We had a great car on the long run there and was just thinking for sure there was going to be a caution. I got out to a big lead, and I could see everybody’s cars were driving like crap in front of me, but I cannot thank this 5 team enough.”

Larson was able to hook the bottom of the track including the apron in turns three and four while most of the other cars’ handling difficulties meant they lacked the capability to replicate his line with Wallace coming close, running a lane higher out of turn four.

While there was a lack of traditional short-track bumper banging, it was a real drivers race, with most only using seventy percent throttle at most around the track and having to control the amount of slipping and sliding, making it a real test of car control and tyre management.

A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Larson swept the weekend by also winning Saturday’s Truck Series 250-lap race, where he had to pass Bubba Wallace inside of 20 laps to go and hold him off in an overtime finish to take the chequered flag.

Larson equals Jeff Gordon, now Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with three All-Star wins. It’s Hendrick Motorsports 11th All-Star win, the most all-time.

Bubba Wallace adds to a string of recent strong performances by coming up deservingly in the runner-up spot.

Wallace was also on the same strategy as Larson, having pitted on lap 18 and found himself in eighth by lap 75 before a phenomenal charge up to second passing cars on older tyres except Larson in the closing laps before the competition break at lap 100.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet (front), and Bubba Wallace, the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota (behind), pits during qualifying heat #2 for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Wallace was unable to match Larson’s pace in the final 100 laps but was able to keep the rest of the field at bay including his 23XI Racing teammate Tyler Reddick who finished 3rd, making it a Toyota 23XI two-three finish.

Wallace said: “If this was any other race, I’d be excited, but for a million dollars to come up short and walk home with nothing. Tail tucked between our legs, but all in all, just continuing to ride the momentum train. Just have to keep it going. Now we show back up to home turf (for next Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway) and really got to keep the momentum going there and get ourselves deeper into the Playoffs.”

Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota, drives during the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Studios)

Rest of race recap

The inside groove at North Wilkesboro was king during the race. Chris Buescher who started outside pole, was unable to find a gap to fall into the inside lane of cars at the start of the race, and fell back to 11th as a result of being trapped on the outside.

A caution came out on lap 16, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. boldly came down the race track in front of a faster Erik Jones who spun him around as a result.

Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 STP Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Polesitter Daniel Suarez, who won heat race one on Saturday to secure the pole for Sunday’s All-Star Race, led the opening 55 laps of the race but chose not to pit on lap 18 for tyres, which saw Larson pass him easily on lap 55 on fresher tyres.

William Byron and Kyle Busch had such poor handling race cars, that both were forced to pit under green during the opening 100 laps to make adjustments, and went down a lap and two laps to the leader respectively as a result.

Despite everyone pitting for tyres and fuel during the competition break on lap 100, now that Larson had taken the lead, there was no looking back for the Californian, who led the rest of the race in dominating fashion.

Coca-Cola 600

This Sunday as part of Memorial Day Weekend in the United States, the NASCAR Cup Series will race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of it’s crown jewel events following IndyCar’s Indy 500, the Coca-Cola 600; a 400 lap (600 mile) race around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The green flag flies at 6pm ET. Follow ThePitCrewOnline’s twitter @PitCrew_Online for live updates and reporting of the Coca-Cola 600.

Featured Image: Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, celebrates with the one million dollar check in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Full race results

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Bubba Wallace
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. Chase Briscoe
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Daniel Suarez
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Ty Gibbs
  10. Joey Logano
  11. Ross Chastain
  12. Christopher Bell
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Martin Truex Jr.
  15. Josh Berry
  16. Chris Buescher
  17. Austin Dillon
  18. Kevin Harvick
  19. Brad Keselowski
  20. William Byron
  21. Austin Cindric
  22. Kyle Busch
  23. Noah Gragson
  24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


The Track of Dreams: North Wilkesboro All-Star Race Format and Lineup

NASCAR is returning to the legendary 0.625-mile North Wilkesboro Speedway as part of its 75th anniversary to run its All-Star Race where the winner will take home $1 million dollars.

  • North Wilkesboro Speedway
  • Format
  • Heat races
  • All-Star Open lineup
  • All-Star Race lineup
  • Drivers to watch
  • Notable paint schemes

Located in the heart of NASCAR country, Wilkes County, NASCAR, Marcus Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Incorporated and the local community have spent the last year restoring North Wilkesboro Speedway to its former glory while making it a venue fit for a modern day NASCAR Cup Series race after the track was abandoned by NASCAR in 1996 in pursuit of furthering national expansion efforts beyond the Southeast into it’s schedule to grow regional markets.

NASCAR has now come home though, returning to its roots in what many are calling the ‘Field of Dreams of Racing’.

Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet sits on display at North Wilkesboro Speedway in NASCAR’s return to Wilkes County (Zack Albert/NASCAR Studios)

New grandstands have been built, a freshly repaved pit road has been put down, and the cracks in the asphalt filled in. Surrounding this though still is much of its history, with old signage including the original scoreboard have remained in place and the original walls and buildings also kept wherever possible including the famous NASCAR Winston Cup Series wall.

The track has been described as a cheese grater by the drivers who have teared around the half mile track of dreams so far this week such as in the CARS Tour Late Model race on Wednesday, the NASCAR Truck Series 250-lap race on Saturday, and during the various practice sessions.


Sunday night’s All-Star Race will consist of 200 laps with a break at 100 laps while the 100-lap All-Star Open race being run prior to decide the final three spots to make up the 24 car field for the All-Star Race.

A general view of NASCAR Cup Series drivers (Back Row L-R) Ryan Blaney, Josh Bilicki, Erik Jones, Noah Gragson, Aric Almirola, Corey LaJoie, Ross Chastain, Ty Gibbs, Bubba Wallace, Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Austin Cindric, Martin Truex Jr., (Front Row L-R) Chandler Smith, Harrison Burton, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, William Byron, Justin Haley, AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Preece, JJ Yeley, and Tyler Reddick pose on track for a photo at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The green flag for the 100-lap All-Star Open will fly at 5:30pm ET while the All-Star Race will begin at 8pm ET.

In the All-Star Open there will be a competition break around lap 40. The top-two finishers will advance to the All-Star Race as well as the fan vote driver (the driver from the All-Star Open who received the most fan votes to advance to the All-Star Race).

For the All-Star Race, there are three sets of sticker tyres allocated to each team in addition to the sticker set they start on. Strategy will come into play in when to and when not to take tyres due to the high falloff with over a second a falloff being seen in the lap times in a matter of laps around the historic half mile.

To complicate matters further, only one additional set of sticker tyres can be used following the competition break.

Eligibility to be locked into the All-Star Race is if a driver is a previous champion of the sport or previous All-Star Race winner that is currently competing full-time, or has won a Cup Series points paying race in the 2022 or 2023 season.

The Grand Marshals for the  All-Star Race will be seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty and three-time Cup cahmpion Darrell Waltrip who combined have won 25 Cup races at North Wilkesboro, Petty 15 to Waltrip’s 10.

The Honorary Starter will be Ray Evernham, three-time Cup Series champion crew chief.

The Honorary Pace Car Driver will be Jeff Gordon, four-time Cup Series champion driver who won the very last Cup race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1996.

The track itself sees 13 degrees of banking in both turns one and two, and three and four ,with the a downhill frontstrectch and an uphill backstretch.

Heat races

The starting lineup for the All-Star Race was decided in Saturday night’s two 60-lap heat races with heat race one determining the inside row lineup and heat race two the outside.

Daniel Suarez won heat one in damp conditions to start on pole for the All-Star Race while Chris Buescher led every single lap of heat two that a saw a switch onto rain tyres on lap 25, to start alongside the Mexican.

Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, leads the field during qualifying heat #2 for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

All-Star Open Lineup

Friday’s Pit Crew Challenge won by the Ty Gibbs No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Team determined the starting lineup for the heat races as well as the All-Star Open, with Gibbs securing the pole for the All-Star Open due to not being locked into the main event.

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 19: Pit crew members of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leaps into action
during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race Qualifying Pit Crew Challenge at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The All-Star Open lineup is as follows.

Position Driver
1st Ty Gibbs
2nd Josh Berry
3rd Corey LaJoie
4th Harrison Burton
5th Justin Haley
6th Michael McDowell
7th Todd Gilliland









Ryan Preece

Aric Almirola

AJ Allmendinger

Josh Bilicki

Ty Dillon

Chandler Smith

Ryan Newman

Noah Gragson

JJ Yeley

All-Star Race Lineup

The first 21 of 24 positions with the final three to come from the All-Star Open are as follows.

*Josh Berry won the All-Star Open with Ty Gibbs being the runner up. Noah Gragson won the Fan Vote. All three advance through to the All-Star Race. Berry, Gibbs, and Gragson, will start 22nd, 23rd, and 24th respectively.

Position Driver
1st Daniel Suarez
2nd Chris Buescher
3rd Joey Logano
4th Austin Dillon
5th Chase Briscoe
6th William Byron
7th Christopher Bell














Brad Keselowski

Denny Hamlin

Bubba Wallace

Ryan Blaney

Martin Truex Jr.

Chase Elliott

Kyle Busch

Kevin Harvick

Kyle Larson

Austin Cindric

Ross Chastain

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Tyler Reddick

Erik Jones

Drivers to watch

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson have both won two All-Star Races, in 2007/2018 and 2019/2021 respectively and with Kyle Larson winning the 250-lap NASCAR Truck Series race at North Wilkesboro in dominating fashion leading over half the laps, he is one of the favourites to make it a third All-Star Race win.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson was joined by four other Cup regulars for Saturday’s truck race, in Chastain, Bell, Wallace and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Byron.

They all saw action at the front, most notably Bell and Larson charging through the field together to the front in stage one, Larson and Byron duelling for the lead in the final stage, and Larson passing Wallace, who was on older tyres inside of 20 laps to go, and holding him off in an overtime finish, to go onto the win the race.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 1 Pristine Auction Toyota, leads the field during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The more in-race track time the better prepared a driver will be for the All-Star Race due to having to rely on old data, and sim time prior to this week.

Ryan Blaney is the reigning All-Star Race winner having won the 2022 All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway in an overtime finish.

Chase Elliott won the 2020 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway that was accompanied by all car having fluorescent light bars attached to the rear of the cars that made it quite the spectacle around the colosseum.

Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet, race during qualifying heat #1 for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Ryan Newman all have one All-Star Race win, all having come at Charlotte Motor Speedway where the event was held in 1985 and then from 1987-2019.

Notable paint schemes

Erik Jones is piloting the No. 43 STP LEGACY MOTOR CLUB Chevrolet that is throwing it back to Richard Petty, who won 15 times at North Wilkesboro in the Cup Series, including eight time while racing STP colours.

Erik Jones, driver of the #43 STP Chevrolet, exits the track during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick is throwing back to his 2001 Atlanta scheme when he was promoted to the Cup Series by Richard Childress Racing following the tragic passing of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. It is Harvick’s final full-time season before retiring.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Busch Light Ford, drives during Heat Race No. 1 for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell is racing the No. 34 Ford that is throwing it back to Mark Martin’s 1990 Cup win at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Follow ThePitCrewOnline’s twitter @PitCrew_Online for live updates and reporting of the All-Star Open and All-Star Race.  

Featured Image: Erik Jones, driver of the #43 STP Chevrolet, exits the track during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR 2023 Season Preview: Always Forward

NASCAR is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and is meshing the old with the new, bringing back the iconic and beloved North Wilkesboro Speedway for its All-Star Race, while introducing its first ever street course in downtown Chicago this summer. There has also been exciting changes made to the rulebook including the introduction of wet weather tyres for short oval tracks. With a revised Next Gen car coming off its maiden voyage last season, and plenty of significant driver changes, this year’s NASCAR season is set to bring the thunder.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – December 14th 1947, Founder’s Day: NASCAR’s early leaders meet in the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. Seated (L-R): Bob Richards, Freddie Horton, Jack Peters, Ed Bruce, Chick DiNatale, Harvey Tattersall Jr., Tom Galan, Alvin Hawkins, Bill Tuthill, Bill France Sr., Mildred Ayres, Joe Littlejohn, Jimmy Cox, Eddie Bland, Joe Ross, Sam Packard, Bill Streeter, Lucky Sauer. Standing (L-R): Larry Roller, Fred Dagavar, Bob Osiecki, Jimmy Quisenberry, Ed Samples, Marshall Teague. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)

Discussing the 75th anniversary, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said: “I think anyone who is involved in this sport at all, whether you work at NASCAR, or you work at a race team or for a racetrack, or our fans, it’s just a moment in time for us to take a step back and really celebrate and honor the past which is what we’re going to do. And I think the unique thing is we also need to celebrate what’s happening today in this sport and then a look forward. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re talking about this, our “75th” and we have a tagline, “always forward”. That’s going to represent what we’re going to do.”

  • Schedule changes
  • Driver changes
  • Driver updates
  • Rule changes
  • Safety changes
  • 75th anniversary

Schedule changes

North Wilkesboro Speedway

North Wilkesboro Speedway returns to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule for it’s All-Star Race, after being removed from the schedule following the conclusion of the 1996 season after NASCAR had to replace some Southeast tracks in order to expand further into new markets across America such the Midwest. Wilkes County historically, was NASCAR’s heartland for both team and fans with much of their fanbase still found there and in the surrounding region today.

NASCAR have rightly brought one of NASCAR’s most legendary tracks back into the limelight where it will shine again on May 21st. It makes North Wilkesboro Speedway officially the oldest track on the schedule, having being opened in 1947. It saw on-track racing again last August including Late Model racing, after being closed since 2011. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will also have a 250-lap points-paying race on May 20th.

Chicago Street Course

NASCAR is in with the old and new this year, introducing it’s 220-mile street course in the downtown Chicago area. Chicago continually proves to be one of NASCAR’s largest market, with a much needed return to the region after cutting Chicagoland Speedway from the schedule in 2021.

The new street course debuted virtually in iRacing in 2021.

Atlanta Motor Speedway

The July Atlanta race has been converted into a night race with all races since the 2021 reconfiguration, where it was turned into a superspeedway, taking place in the daytime. They have not had a night race in the Cup Series there since 2014.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Panasonic Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

World Wide Technology Raceway & Bristol Motor Speedway

The 300-mile race at World Wide Technology Raceway returns for a second year after the Cup Series’ inaugural race there last season, where Joey Logano took his second points-paying win on his way to his second Cup Series championship.

We will also see a third rendition of the Bristol Dirt Race, hoping to capitalise on last year’s dramatic race ending that saw Chase Briscoe collide with Tyler Reddick on the final lap allowing Kyle Busch to beat both to the finish line.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Mars Crunchy Cookie Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Auto Club Speedway

NASCAR is taking its 75th anniversary tagline “Always Forward” to the construction site as well as it will sadly be the last race for Auto Club Speedway on February 26th in its two-mile configuration before being temporarily taken off the schedule to be reconfigured into a half-mile track on the same site with the race venue not set to return to the NASCAR schedule until after 2024.

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 27: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Menards/Quaker State Ford, leads Daniel Hemric, driver of the #16 Poppy Bank Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #43 FOCUS factor Chevrolet, in a five-wide salute to the fans prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Wise Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 27, 2022 in Fontana, California. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Driver changes

Kyle Busch

By far the biggest driver change this season is the switch of two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch from leading Toyota team Joe Gibbs Racing after racing for “The Coach” for 15 years, to Richard Childress Racing’s Chevrolet team.

Busch was unable to secure new sponsorship with Gibbs after M&M’s announced in the 2021 off-season that they were pulling out of the sport. Busch replaces RCR hotshot Tyler Reddick after he controversially signed a contract with Denny Hamlin’s 23XI Racing to drive for them starting in 2024 without consulting with Childress. This resulted in Childress removing Reddick from his seat early as he was due to race for RCR still for the 2023 season.

Kyle Busch returns to Chevrolet after starting his Cup Series career with them in 2004 with Hendrick Motorsports until 2008 when he went to Toyota’s JGR. It is a huge loss for Toyota, having lost their most successful NASCAR driver, with Busch winning the first Cup Series race with them in 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and having won the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series championships with them.

Tyler Reddick

Luckily for Reddick, Denny Hamlin, who ironically drives for JGR, had the contract brought forward to have him race for him this season instead of having to sit the year out. This became possible after 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch announced he would no longer be racing full-time after not being able to return to race for 23XI Racing following a serious injury he received during qualifying for the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway last July. Kurt Busch remains a key part of the 23XI Racing operation.

Ty Gibbs

Ty Gibbs, the grandson of Joe Gibbs, replaces Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing and will compete full-time this season after he filled in for Kurt Busch last season competing in 15 Cup races for 23XI Racing. Ty Gibbs won last year’s Xfinity Series Championship after controversially spinning out teammate Brandon Jones at Martinsville Speedway the week before, preventing him from having the chance to make the Final 4 at Phoenix to compete for a championship.

Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, embraces the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 05, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Tragically, Ty’s dad Coy Gibbs, a much beloved long-time member of the Joe Gibbs Racing family, suddenly passed away the day after he watched his son win the championship and be loudly booed by fans. Ty Gibbs has been through an incredibly difficult time but is now all set to go for the 2023 season.

Ryan Preece

Ryan Preece returns to the Cup Series full-time after he was left without a ride after the 2021 season. He replaces Cole Custer who’s performance was mediocre at best across his three seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, only bagging one victory at Kentucky Speedway in 2020. It’s not all doom and gloom for Custer however, as he will still race part-time for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

Jimmie Johnson

Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, to the world’s excitement announced in the off-season he had become a co-owner at Petty GMS Motorsports, now renamed to Legacy Motor Club, and would also race on a part-time schedule for them including the Daytona 500 and the Chicago street course.

Jimmie Johnson will also compete in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race as part of NASCAR’s Garage 56 program alongside the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button and 2010 Le Mans 24 winner Mike Rockenfeller.

Drivers Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller, and Jenson Button pose for a photo after a press conference announcing the NASCAR Garage 56 driver lineup for entry in 2023 Le mans before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 28, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

AJ Allmendinger

Kaulig Racing have promoted AJ Allmendinger to a full-time Cup ride this season alongside Justin Haley after competing part-time only in the Cup Series after the 2018 season when he then raced for JTG Daugherty Racing and joined Kaulig’s Cup program the following year. He brought Kaulig success when he won the Cup Series race at the Indy Road Course in 2021. This was his second Cup win after earning his first at Watkins Glen in 2014.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, the 13-time Xfinity Series winner, replaces Ty Dillon at Legacy Motor Club after competing for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity series from 2019-2022. Gragson is another fresh driver like Ty Gibbs that we could see some outstanding performances from this year. The Las Vegas native has already competed in a handful of Cup races for Beard Motorsports and Kaulig Racing over the last two seasons.

Ty Dillon

Ty Dillon, while having one of his strongest season performances last year, including at Talladega and the Bristol Dirt Race, did not perform consistently enough compared with teammate Erik Jones but has found himself a new home at Spire Motorsports with new teammate Corey LaJoie, joining the teams ambition to become a more competitive car this year. Ty is more motivated than ever to prove to everyone he belongs in the Cup Series and at the front. He will also race a part-time schedule for his grandfather Richard Childress in the Xfinity Series racing the infamous No. 3 car.


Josh Bilicki

Ty Dillon replaces Josh Bilicki who will now race part-time for Live Fast Motorsports who have switched from Ford to Chevrolet. It will be Bilicki’s seventh year in Cup.

Zane Smith

Zane Smith will run a select number of races this year for Front Row Motorsports with six of his seven starts replacing Todd Gilliland, who is good friends with the 2022 Craftsman Truck Series Champion, forcing Gilliland to find new rides for those races in order to compete full-time this season and be eligible for a championship run. The two will race alongside each other as teammates for Front Row for the Daytona 500.

Austin Hill

Austin Hill will attempt six Cup Series races with Beard Motorsports for 2023 including the Daytona 500 and Chicago street course.

Driver Updates

Kevin Harvick

In the off-season Kevin Harvick announced that 2023 would mark his final season in the NASCAR Cup Series before retiring following a 23-year run in the Cup Series. He will join the FOX Sports Booth NASCAR alongside former Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer.

Harvick has accomplished a lot, including taking the 2014 Cup Series championship, winning the 2007 Daytona 500, and helping take the sport out of a tragically difficult time when he took over the Richard Childress Racing seat, making his Cup debut in 2001, following the passing of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. after a serious crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick, a highly respected voice in the garage, will surely continue to voice his opinion about all things NASCAR this season too.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford Ecoboost 400 and championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16th, 2014 in Homestead, Florida (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Joey Logano  

The Team Penske driver from Connecticut, will attempt to go back-to-back for Cup championships this year after becoming a two-time Cup champion last season. He took four wins on his way to his second title, in addition to winning the inaugural LA Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race at the start of the season, including the inaugural World Wide Technology Raceway Cup race and winning the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. The 2015 Daytona 500 winner earned his first Cup championship in 2018.

2022 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano poses for a photo on the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge on December 01, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Harrison Burton

Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver and now NBC Sports commentator Jeff Burton, comes off his rookie season with only two-top 10’s with him struggling to be seen in his first campaign in the Cup Series. Driving for the famed Wood Brothers, who have a technical alliance with Team Penske, Burton will be expected to step up this season and deliver a more competitve performance.

Harrison Burton, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Rule changes

Wet weather tyres

There is a whole roster of rule changes that aims to improve the racing and keep the cars on track. No more exciting is the addition of wet-weather tyres being permitted at several tracks of one mile or less including the LA Coliseum, Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, and Richmond Raceway.

Officials tested wet weather tyres at Martinsville’s 0.526-mile short track in March 2021 and June 2022. Windshield wipers will also be required on the cars for these tracks but only starting with the Phoenix Raceway race in March.

Stage breaks

Road course races will no longer have mandatory caution periods during stage breaks. Instead, the race will continue under green at the stage break with stage points being given out as normal at the end of the stage-ending lap. With the removal of mandatory stage break cautions, this brings back the prospect of having entire green-flag races with only organic strategies influencing them.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 CommScope Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Echopark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 27, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Loose wheels

Loose wheels became a thorn in teams’ sides last season. Thankfully, there will no longer be any four-race crew chief suspensions for loose wheels. Instead, pass through penalties under green or being sent to the tail end of the longest line under yellow will be given out with however NASCAR have said: “If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty, plus a two-race suspension for two crew members.”

Choose rule

Drivers will now be able to choose which lane they restart on during races at superspeedways and dirt tracks. This adds Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Speedway, and the Bristol Dirt Race to the list of eligible tracks.

Hail Melon move

Ross Chastain’s “Hail Melon” move at Martinsville Speedway last season, where he wall-rided around turns three and four like it was an EA Sports NASCAR video game to gain enough positions to qualify for the championship 4 in Phoenix, has been clamped down by NASCAR due to safety concerns.

There will be a time penalty handed out to anyone who tries to make the move. Still, it became one of NASCAR’s most iconic moments in history becoming the most viewed moment of NASCAR in a matter of days via social media.


Little has changed to the playoff structure despite calls from fans to have it changed, such as cycling the championship 4 race destination, other than making it so that drivers will no longer be required to be in the top 30 in points to be eligible for the playoffs.

Damaged Vehicle Policy

Teams will now be see a seven-minute repair clock instead of five for working on the car on pit road under the damage vehicle policy.

Safety changes

Safety became a huge talking point last season after serious concussions caused by crash impacts fell upon the drivers Kurt Busch, while qualifying at Pocono, and Alex Bowman during the Texas Motor Speedway race, as well as serious car fires experienced by Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski due to rubber build up in the wheel well. In addition, many drivers complained of hard impacts during crashes throughout the season with driver such as Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Noah Gragson concerned for their own safety.


This season, teams will use new centre and rear clips on the car chassis, with both sections modified to better absorb rear impacts.

NASCAR stated: “The improved 2023 design features the removal of some bars, a reduction in the thickness of some tubing and adding pivot points called “triggers” in the structure to encourage deformation while protecting both the oil tank and fuel cell.”

Data collection

NASCAR are mandating new incident data collection systems on all Cup cars for 2023. Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR’s Vice President of safety engineering said: “It is a completely new system from the ground up. This will give us more data channels, will give us dedicated GPS data as far as the speed of the vehicle, and we’ll have a lot of those things all synchronized in time.”

Some drivers will also voluntarily wear mouthpiece sensors this season, continuing from 2022, which provide vital information about the driver’s bodies during the crashes as well as the race in general.


The SFI-approved foam that surrounds the driver’s head has been improved to better protect the drivers from injury, addressing the most significant heights, positioning and gaps that best protect the driver’s head in a crash.

75th anniversary

Longtime NASCAR executive Mike Helton, talking about the 75th anniversary 2023 season said: “It’s kind of indicative going into 2023, [that] our 75th anniversary, with the uniqueness of the LA Coliseum for the Clash and then the Chicago Grant Park race because it all signals we’ve been doing this for 75 years, but one of the ways we figured out how to do it for 75 years was to stay fresh and current.”

NASCAR 75th Anniversary Icon Logo (Photo by NASCAR)

NASCAR President Steve Phelps furthered the sentiment by saying: “Our fans have told us again and again and again, they want schedule variation. So, whether we’re going to North Wilkesboro for the All-Star race, or to the Chicago street course, in our 75 years we’ve never raced on the street ever, so you’re talking about milestones.”

NASCAR 2023 has the most diverse schedule ever seen for a season in decades, with arguably the most competitive driver line-up to date. In the modern era, and most certainly in the playoff era, it’s not just an exciting time to be a NASCAR fan on it’s 75th anniversary, it’s the best time to be a NASCAR fan.

We cannot wait to cover the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season for you here at ThePitCrewOnline!

Featured Image: NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary logo (Photo by NASCAR)

©2014-2024 ThePitCrewOnline