Ryan Blaney made the sweep happen for Team Penske for the first time with both United States crown jewel races on Memorial Day Weekend, the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 being won by Team Penske. Blaney led 163 of the 400 laps of Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600, won stage three, and took the chequered flag to end a 59-race drought, claiming his eighth Cup Series win.
William Byron one-place short
Kyle Larson spins
Elliott hooks Hamlin
Rest of race recap
Full race results
Blaney said: “I might shed a tear. You start to get to feel like you can’t win anymore when you don’t win in a while. It kind of gets hard. So just super thankful to the 12 guys for believing in me. What a weekend with Newgarden and Roger winning at Indy and us winning the 600. I mean that’s just so cool.”
Blaney had to fend off a series of late race cautions and a fast Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron with Blaney lining up alongside Byron with 20 laps to go for what was the final restart, finishing the race over half a second in front.
Blaney replicated fellow Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden’s celebration from Sunday’s Indy 500, where Josef Newgarden passed reigning Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson on the backstretch in a one-lap shootout, by leaping into the crowd in the frontstretch grandstand to take in the moment with the fans.
Blaney’s dad, Dave Blaney, only ever NASCAR national series win came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Xfinity Series in 2006. His dad joined Ryan in victory lane.
William Byron one-place short
Byron after being up front all race long, including leading 91 laps and winning stage one, comes up one place short. Byron had the edge in the first stage and regained the lead several times under yellow throughout the race thanks to a fast pit crew and No. 1 pit stall but Blaney’s short run speed was better overall, getting by Byron for the final time inside of 30 laps to go.
Byron said: “Really happy for Ryan. He really deserves it. He’s a good dude. Cool to see him get a win. The car was great tonight. Just not quite good enough. Pit crew was phenomenal on pit road. Just needed a little bit more.”
Larson’s bid for a second Coca-Cola 600
Kyle Larson, who attended Sunday’s Indy 500 with Tony Kanaan’s Arrow McLaren IndyCar team, after completing his IndyCar test, in preparation for his 2024 Indy 500 effort, found himself out of contention when on lap 375, he spun coming off turn two taking out himself, Ty Gibbs, who had a career day running inside the top 10 for much of the second half of the race, Christopher Bell and others, ending his chances of winning his second Coca-Cola 600 again.
Larson after being in the mid-pack in the early going had been inside the top five in the latter stages of the race prior to his spin. Larson’s crash set up the final 20 lap green flag run.
Chase Elliott hooks Denny Hamlin
Deep into the second stage of the 600 Chase Elliott hooked Denny Hamlin in the right rear sending him hard into the wall on the frontstretch at speeds over 150mph in retaliation to Hamlin squeezing Elliott into the wall for consecutive laps, ending both their races and leading Chase Elliott to being given a one race ban by NASCAR on Tuesday.
Elliott, who needs a win to make the playoffs, due to being out of action for several weeks due to a fractured tibia from snowboarding earlier in the season, claimed he had lost steering of his car after hitting the wall.
Hamlin later in the race posted telemetry on social media showing that Elliott’s steering had not been damaged in any way meaning he had complete control of where to aim his race car implying he had been intentionally taken out.
A similar incident occurred last year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson when, following Laron squeezing Wallace into the turn four wall, Wallace turned down into Larson’s car at high speed on the frontstretch taking both cars out of the race with Wallace physically showing his displeasure to Larson out of the car also. Wallace received a one race ban.
It is not the first time Hamlin and Elliott have have ran into each other as in 2017, Hamlin dumped Elliott in the playoff race at Martinsville.
Rest of race recap
After qualifying was rained out, William Byron based on having the highest average score determined by championship position, last week’s race finishing position, and fastest lap, led the field to green on a grey filled sky afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Seven-time Cup Series champion and Legacy Motor Club co-owner Jimmie Johnson, who was making his second start of the season, was running 25th but lost control of his No. 84 Chevrolet coming off turn two deep into stage one sending his car to the garage.
His Legacy Motor Club teammates Erik Jones, who was running inside the top-15, and Noah Gragson, both hit a piece of debris at the end of stage one, that punctured their radiators, sending them to the garage, taking them out of contention for having a solid points day.
William Byron just held off Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney to win stage one.
There was a temporary stop to the race after a rain shower swept through the area bringing out the red flag. A quick cleanup with the jet driers and racing resumed.
Late in stage two but prior to Elliott’s incident with Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski got together coming out of turn two bringing out the caution. Busch spun out but would recover quickly finding himself in the top by stage three.
Chris Buescher took over the lead with eight laps to go in stage two and went on to win stage two.
Ryan Blaney won stage three but Byron leapfrogged Blaney on pit road to reclaim the lead for the start of the final stage. Blaney took the lead back on the restart.
With less than 80 laps to go, Tyler Reddick, who was running inside the top five, performed a phenomenal save coming off turn four after the car got away from under him.
Halfway through the final stage, Kevin Harvick, in his final full-time season, brought out a caution after spinning out off turn four before getting it straightened it out. Kyle Larson had just passed Busch for second.
Inside of 50 laps to go, Stenhouse Jr. shot Allmendinger up the track in turn 4 up into Logano sending Allmendinger for a spin and made light contact with Harrison Burton. Logano grazed the wall.
Toyota’s took the rest of the top five spots with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr, the 2019 Coca-Cola 600 winner finishing third, and 23XI Racing in Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick finishing fourth and fifth.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Enjoy Illinois 300 race at World Wide Technology Raceway this Sunday with the green flag flying at 3:30pm ET.
Featured Image: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Cherry Lime Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2023 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Sunday saw JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win the 65th Daytona 500 in a double overtime finish beating Team Penske’s Joey Logano to the caution flag as the field wrecked behind them. It was the longest Daytona 500 being 212 laps (530 miles) compared with 2020’s 209 lap race. The two Kyle’s of Busch and Larson missed out again while Travis Pastrana came home 11th in his first Daytona 500.
Rest of race recap
After starting 31st with 20 laps to go after receiving a penalty for speeding exiting pit road, Stenhouse Jr. methodically worked his way back through the field to take the lead away from Kyle Busch during the first of two overtimes.
In the final overtime, he held off Kyle Larson and inched in front of Joey Logano on the white flag lap at the time of caution as nearly the entire field wrecked behind them after Almirola turned Pastrana down into the pack.
Two minutes later, NASCAR declared Ricky Stenhouse Jr., of Olive Branch, Mississippi, the winner of the 65th running of the Daytona 500; his 12th attempt at winning the Great American Race.
It ends a 199-winless streak and earned the Mississippi native his third career win, all coming at restrictor plate tracks, including the 2017 summer Daytona race. This was Stenhouse’s first season back with his old crew chief Mike Kelly, who he won the 2011 and 2012 Xfinity Championships together with.
Stenhouse Jr. said: “everything played out perfectly for us at the end of that. It’s the Daytona 500. It’s a long race. You’re going to have good parts and bad parts, but we just kept pushing through.”
For most of the race the pack was tightly strung together two-wide 15-plus rows deep. While any aggressive maneuvers and sudden movements often came close to causing the big one, there was perpetual energy changes in the two lanes leading to 52 lead changes in the race shared amongst 21 drivers. Prior to overtime, there was only four cautions for cause.
Joey Logano had been upfront throughout the race including leading the pack for most of the final 18 laps of stage two. Logano retook the lead with 13 laps to go before losing it to AJ Allmendinger two laps later.
Logano circled around the top five for all of overtime including in the first before the big one happened when William Byron and Austin Dillon spun back into the pack in turn three after Byron had sent Dillon into a spin.
In the final overtime finish Logano was ahead of Stenhouse Jr. when the field began wrecking behind them but by the time the caution was thrown five seconds later, Stenhouse Jr. had surged back ahead.
Logano, speaking about his decisions afterwards said: “Second is the worst, man. You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push. I knew if I went to the bottom my car didn’t handle good enough. I already got pushed off the bottom once and I thought, if I go down there, I’m probably going to get wrecked, and I don’t know if I can get down there in time to throw the block [on Stenhouse] and so I didn’t want to wreck my car either.”
Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch had taken over the lead with teammate Austin Dillon in tandem inside of three laps to go, slingshotting around the Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.
The RCR camp offered Stenhouse an olive branch on the restart when a drop to the bottom lane from the top by Busch to allow Dillon in to push saw Logano’s and Stenhouse Jr.’s outside led lane out-drag them down the backstretch. Busch would be collected in the final wreck sending him tumbling down the finishing order to 19th.
Busch had a stereotypically rowdy race. In his 18th attempt to win the Daytona 500, he had to start in the rear due to going to a backup car after Thursday night’s duel crash but worked his way up to the top-10 after the first green flag pit stops. Busch was caught speeding on pit road on lap 107 and served his drive through penalty under green, consequently being caught by the pack laps later.
After being the lucky dog on lap 132, putting himself back on the lead lap, Busch worked his way up to inside the top five with 15 laps to go, only to wreck out of the Daytona 500 again when Kyle Busch spun off of Bubba Wallace’s nose in the final wreck.
‘@KyleBusch led lap 200, the advertised race length.
Kyle Larson led the opening lap of the race, pipping polesitter Alex Bowman to the line. Larson, while staying in contention, would only be at the front again in the second overtime, lining up alongside Stenhouse Jr. for the restart. Larson would finish 18th after being taken out in the final crash.
The first stint of the race was smooth sailing apart from a spinning Riley Herbst in the infield grass on lap 38, but the race stayed caution free. After the first green flag pit stops were complete on lap 45, the four Toyota’s found themselves in the top-five in 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace leading with teammate Tyler Reddick followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell. Wallace had to come to pit road from the lead after a light bump from Truex Jr. sent him into the wall and would go down a lap.
With six to go in stage one it was a JGR one-two-three in Martin Truex Jr, Hamlin and Ty Gibbs but were sitting ducks to the RFK and Stewart-Haas Racing Ford’s of Brad Keselowski, Ryan Preece, Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick. The blue ovals pounced on the final lap with Keselowski winning the stage.
Keselowski also led much of the halfway part of the race. At lap 100 Erik Jones, in his striking Guns N’ Roses sponsored No. 43, was up to fifth, and Jimmie Johnson, the two-time Daytona 500 winner who finished eighth in stage one, was up to sixth.
Lap 118 saw the first major incident of the race when Harvick gently pushed outside leader Reddick into a spin down into Blaney and Truex Jr. before careering into the turn four wall causing the field to check up behind. Blaney would whack the outside wall also but would continue after repairs while Jones would spin into Chase Elliott taking both, along with Reddick, out of the race. Wallace ironically would get the free pass following his teammate’s crash.
A six-lap shootout to end stage two saw Ross Chastain drag-race Alex Bowman to the green chequered flag to take the stage win.
Wallace would lead the start of the final stage after staying out under yellow. Wallace had no top-end pace on the restart and quickly fell back through the pack as Aric Almirola took over the lead.
A seven-car crash came just after the final scheduled green flag pit stop’s with 19 laps to go when part of the mid-field stacked up behind Keselowski leading to 14th place running Preece, the fifth car in line, spinning out from Michael McDowell’s rear contact, taking out himself and SHR teammate Chase Briscoe from the race.
Harrison Burton and Logano briefly led at the front before Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger took over the lead from Logano while Burton squeezed Busch into the frontstretch wall. The RFK Ford’s of Keselowski and Buescher took back the lead with 10 to go before an eight-car breakaway developed inside of five to go, with Busch and Dillon tucked in behind the RFK Ford’s.
A spinning Daniel Suarez coming off turn four into the infield grass helped lead to the double-overtime finish that saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win his first Cup race since 2017 and Chevrolet win their first Daytona 500 since RCR’s win with Austin Dillon in 2018.
The mayhem at the end and good incident avoidance led Rick Ware Racing’s Riley Herbst to come home in 10th in his first Daytona 500 start, despite being a part of the first overtime crash, and X-Games gold medallist Travis Pastrana finish 11th in his first Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson was forced to retire from the race after being caught up the first overtime pile-up and would finish 31st.
This Sunday sees the NASCAR Cup Series travel to Fontana, California for the second race of the season, the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway starting 3:30pm ET.
Featured Image: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
This Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500 on its 75th anniversary. 40 cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd for 200 laps (500 miles), in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves in the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day.
Starting lineup/paint schemes
Starting lineup summary
Multi-platinum American country singer Dierks Bentley will host this year’s pre-race concert starting at 1:30pm ET. Pre-race ceremonies for Sunday’s Great American Race begin at 2:45pm ET, with the green flag flying at 3:14pm ET.
For viewers in the UK, the race programme will be shown on ViaPlay Sports starting 6:30pm UK time.
Daytona 500 starting lineup
Here is how the 40-car field will lineup for the 2023 Daytona 500.
1st. On pole is Alex Bowman after setting a blistering lap speed of 181.686mph to secure his third career Daytona 500 pole. The Hendrick Motorsports driver started second in last year’s race. The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet driver will try to get Mr. Hendrick his first Daytona 500 win since Dale Earnhardt Jr’s 2014 win; NASCAR’s most popular driver from 2003-2017 and son of the late seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.
2nd. Joining Bowman on the front row will be Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson. The 2021 Cup Series champion, and last year’s Daytona 500 pole winner will be piloting the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet.
3rd. Starting third is the reigning two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano after winning the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 on Thursday night. The 2015 Daytona winner will drive the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Team Penske.
4th. Starting fourth is the 2014 Daytona Summer winner (Coke Zero 400), Aric Almirola after winning the second Bluegreen Vacations duel. Almirola was due to retire at the end of last season but was persuaded to stay on at Stewart-Haas Racing. He will drive the No. 10 Smithfield Ford.
5th. Starting fifth is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell making his fourth Daytona 500 start. While not having won a race on the Daytona oval in NASCAR’s national series, Bell did get his first Cup win at Daytona in the Daytona Road Course in 2021.
6th. The reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric will start sixth. Cindric, now in his second full-time season will pilot the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske.
7th. Starting seventh is Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney. The 2018 Daytona duel one winner and two-time Daytona 500 runner up will drive the No. 12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford.
8th. Joining Blaney on the fourth row is the 2020 Cup Series champion and 2018 Daytona duel two winner Chase Elliott. He will drive the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
9th. Starting from the fifth row in ninth place is last year’s Daytona duel two winner Chris Buescher. The Texas native will drive the No. 17 Fastenal Ford for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.
10th. Rounding out the fifth row in tenth is the 2016 Coke Zero 400 winner Brad Keselowski. Still looking for his first Daytona 500 win, Keselowski will pilot the No. 6 Nexlizet Ford.
11th. Starting 11th is the 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell. He will drive the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops for Front Row Motorsports.
12th. Starting 12th in his eighth Daytona 500 is Corey LaJoie. LaJoie has a best finish of eighth in the 2020 Daytona 500. He will pilot the No. 7 Celsius Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.
13th. Starting 13th is the 2007 Daytona 500 winner and 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. He will drive the No. 4 Busch Light Ford.
14th. Starting 14th, making his second Daytona 500 start is Todd Gilliland. He will drive the No. 38 gener8tor Skills Ford for Front Row Motorsports.
15th. Starting 15th is the 2018 and 2022 Daytona 500 runner up Bubba Wallace. Wallace won the rain shortened autumn Talladega race in 2021, becoming the first African-American driver to win a Cup race since Wendell Scott in 1963. Wallace will drive the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota for 23XI Racing.
16th. Starting 16th is the 2016 Daytona 500 runner up Martin Truex Jr. The 2017 Cup Series champion will drive the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
17th. Starting in 17th place is the reigning Craftsman Truck Series Champion Zane Smith, making his second Daytona 500 start. He will be piloting the No. 36 Wellcare Ford for Front Row Motorsports.
18th. Starting 18th is the three-time Daytona 500 champion (2016, 2019, ’20) Denny Hamlin. He will be joining Cale Yarbrough for second-all time Daytona 500 wins if he takes the chequered flag on Sunday. Hamlin will drive the No. 11 FedEx 50 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
19th. Starting 19th is Harrison Burton, making his second Daytona 500 start in his second full-time season. The son of 21-time Cup winner Jeff Burton will drive the famed Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford.
20th. Making up the tenth row in 20th, in his fourth Daytona 500 start is Ryan Preece. Preece has a best finish of sixth coming in the 2021 Daytona 500. Preece will drive the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
21st. Starting 21st is the last of the Hendrick Chevrolet’s in William Byron. The 2020 Coke Zero 400 winner was third fastest in single-car qualifying ahead of Thursday’s duels. He will drive the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
22nd. Starting 22nd is the first of the Legacy Motor Club cars in Noah Gragson, in his full-time rookie season and second Daytona 500 start. He will drive the No. 42 Wendy’s Chevrolet.
23rd. Starting 23rd is the Hail Melon man, Ross Chastain, making his fifth Daytona 500 start. He has a best finish of seventh from the 2021 Daytona 500 race. The Florida native won last year’s spring Talladega race. He will drive the No. 1 AdventHealth Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.
24th. Starting alongside Chastain in 24th is his Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez. The Mexican-born driver will be making his sixth Daytona 500 start. Suarez made history last year when he became the first Mexican to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he took the chequered flag at Sonoma Raceway. He will pilot the No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet.
25th. Starting 25th is the 2018 Coke Zero 400 and 2020 Daytona Clash winner Erik Jones. He will drive the No. 43 Guns N’ Roses Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club, who of which is co-owned by seven all-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty.
26th. Starting 26th is the 2018 spring Daytona Xfinity Series race winner Tyler Reddick. He will drive the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota for 23XI Racing.
27th. Starting 27th is the 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. He will drive the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
28th. Starting 28th in his third Daytona 500 start is Justin Haley. Haley won the rain shortened Coke Zero 400 in 2019 when his team gambled correctly to stay out.
29th. Starting 29th in his 10th Daytona 500 start is AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger, driving full-time since 2018, for Kaulig Racing, will pilot the No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet.
30th. Rounding out the fifteenth row in 30th is Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe. Briscoe finished third in last year’s Daytona 500. He will drive the No, 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford.
31st. Starting 31st is the 2017 Coke Zero 400 race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He will drive the No. 47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing.
32nd. Starting 32nd in his fifth Daytona 500 start is BJ McLeod. He will drive the No. 78 Power Slap Rumble Chevrolet for Live Fast Motorsports.
33rd. Starting 33rd is the reigning Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs, driving in his first full-time for his grandfather Joe Gibbs, making his first Daytona 500. He will drive the No. 54 Monster Energy/Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
34th. Starting 34th is Conor Daly, after dramatically qualifying his way into the Daytona 500 during the second duel race where he kept out of trouble enough to make the race. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, in his first Daytona 500 start will pilot the No. 50 BitNile.com Chevrolet for The Money Team Racing.
35th. Starting 35th in his fourth Daytona 500 is Cody Ware. He will drive the No. 51 Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford for Rick Ware Racing.
36th. Originally starting 36th is the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Busch had to go to a backup car after spinning out off of the front of Suarez’s car during the duel race . Following NASCAR procedure for going to a backup car, he will move to the back for the start of the race. The Daytona 500 victory has eluded Kyle Busch, having won the 2008 Coke Zero 400, three Daytona duels and the 2012 Daytona clash. He will drive the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
37th. Starting 37th in his eighth Daytona 500 start is Ty Dillon. Dillon has a best place finish of sixth from the 2019 Daytona 500. Dillon will pilot the No. 77 Ferris Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.
38th. Starting 38th in his first Daytona 500 start is Riley Herbst. Herbst will drive the No. 15 Sunny D Ford for Rick Ware Racing.
39th. Making up the first of two cars on the back is no other than seven-time Cup champion and the 2006 and ’13 Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson. Johnson locked himself in during single-car qualifying and is driving for his co-owned team Legacy Motor Club. He also topped the speed charts in the first of two practice sessions. He will drive the No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet.
40th. Last, but certainly not least is X-Games gold medallist and Hoonigan stunt driver Travis Pastrana. Pastrana, who also locked himself into the race through single-car qualifying will be making his first Daytona 500 start. He will pilot the No. 40 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota for 23XI Racing.
Starting lineup summary
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The 65th running of the Daytona 500 starts at 2:30pm ET!
Featured Image: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, race to the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Bowman was the last car to go out in single- car qualifying’s final round and had to beat Hendrick Motorsport teammate Kyle Larson’s lap speed of 181.057mph. Both Bowman and Larson make up the front row for the Great American Race for two years in a row except it was Larson on pole for last year’s race.
Bowman, who announced a contract extension earlier in the day that sees him through to 2026 with Hendrick said: “This Ally 48 Camaro is obviously really fast. I don’t really have a lot to do with qualifying here, so just fortunate to qualify some really fast race cars.”
Hendrick drivers have won eight of the last nine Daytona 500 poles, and Chevrolet drivers have won the last 11.
It was a Hendrick one-two-three at the end of qualifying with William Byron coming in third with a lap speed of 180.727mph. Unlike his teammates, his starting position for the Daytona 500 will be decided in the duel races as only the front row is locked in for the Daytona 500 ahead of the duels.
It was all Ford’s from fourth to ninth in Almirola, Logano, Briscoe, Blaney, Cindric and Burton. Kyle Busch had his initial top-five time disallowed for dipping his Richard Childress Chevrolet below the double yellow lines on the frontstretch, having to settle for 10th out of the 10 cars in the final round.
Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana were the top two non-chartered cars, qualifying 23rd and 25th with near equal lap speeds; 179.276mph and 179.254mph respectively. There’d been no practice prior to qualifying so it was all the more impressive to see Johnson, the seven-time Cup champions’ first qualifying session with the New Gen Car and Pastrana, making his first Daytona 500 run, lay down competitive lap speeds.
Pastrana said: I just can’t say enough about this 23XI team. And this TRD motor and being able to get on the [simulator], that was everything. Can’t give them enough credit for this opportunity.”
It means that Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill will have to race their way into the Daytona 500. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, was unable to go out to qualify due to a broken oil line. The Money Team Racing car was completely disassembled during qualifying while they awaited the arrival of a replacement oil heater. He consequently qualified 42nd.
An oil line broke on the No. 50 car. Conor Daly told me he isn't sure if the team will be able to fix it in time to post a qualifying lap tonight. #NASCARpic.twitter.com/OMRBa6mXV9
Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith was the best of the rest of the non-chartered cars qualifying 29th with a lap speed of 178.862mph. Austin Hill and Chandler Smith qualified 32nd and 41st.
The single-car qualifying results decide where each driver will start in the Blue Vacations Duel 60-lap qualifying races to determine the starting positions for the Great American Race. The qualifying field will be split into two duels, with the odd numbered qualified cars racing in duel one and even numbered qualified cars in duel two.
The highest finishing non-chartered car from each duel that isn’t locked in from single-car qualifying will lock themselves into Sunday’s race.
The Blue Vacation Duels begin 7pm ET time Thursday night.
Full qualifying results
(48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 181.686 mph.
(5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 181.057 mph.
(24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 180.727 mph.
(10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 180.723 mph.
(22) Joey Logano, Ford, 180.712 mph.
(14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 180.661 mph.
(12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 180.054 mph.
(2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 180.014 mph.
(21) Harrison Burton, Ford, 179.748 mph.
(8) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
(23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 180.011 mph.
(99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 179.921 mph.
(17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 179.888 mph.
(9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 179.881 mph.
(1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 179.863 mph.
(41) Ryan Preece, Ford, 179.849 mph.
(4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 179.684 mph.
(6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 179.673 mph.
(54) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 179.616 mph.
(45) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 179.612 mph.
(20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 179.497 mph.
(19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 179.347 mph.
(84) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 179.276 mph.
(34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 179.265 mph.
(67) Travis Pastrana, Toyota, 179.254 mph.
(11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 179.154 mph.
(43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 178.998 mph.
(42) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 178.941 mph.
(36) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 178.862 mph.
(16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 178.813 mph.
(31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 178.763 mph.
(62) Austin Hill(i), Chevrolet, 178.660 mph.
(3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.525 mph.
(38) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 178.204 mph.
(47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 177.925 mph.
(78) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 177.834 mph.
(51) Cody Ware, Ford, 177.169 mph.
(15) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 176.849 mph.
(77) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 176.315 mph.
(7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 176.287 mph.
(13) Chandler Smith(i), Chevrolet, 175.022 mph.
(50) Conor Daly(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
Featured Image: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
This Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500 on its 75th anniversary. 40 cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd at speeds over 200mph, inches apart from each other for 200 laps, in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves in the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day.
Drivers to watch
42 drivers have entered into the 500-mile 200 lap race around the 2.5-mile superspeedway with seven part-time entries including seven-time Cup Series champion and Legacy Motor Club co-owner Jimmie Johnson and X Games gold medallist and Hoonigan driver Travis Pastrana.
Last year saw Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric win the Daytona 500 on his full-time debut. It was the first time a rookie has won the Daytona 500 since Trevor Bayne in 2011, driving for Wood Brothers Racing.
There are 36 chartered cars in this year’s Daytona 500 meaning they are guaranteed a spot in the race regardless of where they qualify. There are four spots available for non-chartered cars to claim with six entering meaning two will fail to qualify for this year’s race. Two cars will able to secure their spot from single car qualifying while the remaining two spots will be decided in the duels.
The NASCAR Cup Cars will run single car qualifying on Wednesday at 8pm ET where in round one they will run a single timed lap attempting to lay down a top-10 lap to get through to the final round where they will set another single timed lap in an attempt to secure the pole for the Great American Race.
The top two from single car qualifying will keep their starting positions on the front row for the Daytona 500 regardless of where they finish in their duel race. Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson scored the pole in last year’s event with teammate Alex Bowman qualifying second.
The Bluegreen Vacations Duels, the two qualifying 60-lap races, will be run on Thursday starting at 7pm ET. The finishing positions determine where the drivers will start the Daytona 500, and which two non-chartered cars will go home. Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher won last year’s duels.
As and added incentive, the top 10 in each duel race will receive points; 10 for finishing first, nine for second and so on all the way down to receiving one point for finishing 10th.
On Friday the Cup Series will have the first of two 50-minute practice sessions starting at 5:35pm ET before the NextEra Energy 250, the Craftsman Truck Series 100-lap night race, starting at 7:30pm ET.
Saturday sees the Cup Series have its final 50-minute practice session starting at 10:30am ET before the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300, the Xfinity Series 120-lap race, starting at 5pm ET.
Sunday sees the biggest day in stock car racing with the 65th running of the Daytona 500 starting at 2:30pm ET in front of a sold out crowd for the eighth year running. The 200-lap race will be broken down into three stages of 65,65 and 70 laps respectively.
Drivers to watch
Two-time Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson will attempt to win the Daytona 500 for a third time to join the likes of three-time Daytona 500 champions Denny Hamlin and old Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon in the history books. He will drive the No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club. He has to qualify his way into the race due to having an non-chartered car.
Travis Pastrana, the legendary Hoonigan stunt performer and Nitro RallyCross series founder will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 as a third entry for 23XI Racing driving the No. 67 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota.
Pastrana said: “I’m thrilled at the chance to race in the Daytona 500. It’s the one event every year that all my friends and family come together to watch at our buddy Dale’s house and it’s an event I’ve wanted to race my entire life.”
He has competed in five Craftsman Truck Series races and 42 Xfinity Series races and has raced at Daytona three times before in NACAR’s national series including finishing 10th in the 2013 Xfinity Series Daytona season-opener.
Conor Daly, who competes full-time in the NTT IndyCar Series, will also attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with The Money Team Racing which is co-owned by boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, sporting the No. 50 BitNile.com Chevrolet. Daly has one Cup start to his name, competing in last year’s Charlotte Roval race where he finished 34th.
Rookie Ty Gibbs will make his first start for his grandfather’s team Joe Gibbs Racing competing full-time, replacing two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. The reigning Xfinity Series champion will be driving the No. 54 Monster Energy/Interstates Batteries Toyota.
Ty Gibbs is racing with a heavy heart after his dad, a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing family, Coy Gibbs, suddenly passed away the day after he won the Xfinity Series title last November. Ty made 15 Cup starts last year after subbing for Kurt Busch where he earned one top-10 at Michigan.
Rookie Noah Gragson will drive the No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Wendy’s Chevrolet in what will be his second Daytona 500 start. Gragson is in his first full-time Cup season, after 18 Cup races last year with the majority being with Kaulig Racing. The 13-times Xfinity Series winner was runner up to Ty Gibbs last season championship finale in Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin will be going for a fourth Daytona 500 victory with Joe Gibbs Racing, sporting the FedEx 50 Toyota. Hamlin won the 2016, ’19, and 2020 Daytona 500’s with JGR.
In case you missed the unveil, here is the scheme I'll be running at @DAYTONA. Anytime you have a 50th birthday, it's a cause for celebration and definitely deserves a special paint scheme. Excited to hit the track! pic.twitter.com/O4X9wcDp3g
Bubba Wallace will compete in his sixth Daytona 500, racing the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota for Denny Hamlin’s and Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing. The Alabama native will hope to finish one place better after being the 2018 and 2022 runner-up. If Wallace wins this year’s race, he would become the first African-American to have done so.
This will be Kevin Harvick’s final Daytona 500 driver as a full-time Cup driver after announcing his retirement in the off-season. Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 when he pipped fan-favourite Mark Martin at the finish line. Harvick will drive No. 4 Busch Light Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Austin Hill, the 2022 Daytona Xfinity Series race winner, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 for Beard Motorsports and will pilot the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet. He made his Cup debut at last August’s Michigan race in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Bennett Transportation and Logistics sponsored Chevrolet where he impressively finished 18th.
23-year-old Zane Smith, the 2022 Craftsman Truck Series champion, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with Front Row Motorsports driving the No. 36 Wellcare Ford. Smith impressed the NASCAR garage when he subbed for RFK’s Chris Buescher last season, finishing 17th on his Cup debut at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Rookie Chandler Smith, the five-time Craftsman Truck Series winner, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with Kaulig Racing driving the No. 13 Quick Tie Inc. Chevrolet. The 20-year-old is racing full-time in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing this season.
Austin Cindric will hope to go back to back in this year’s edition of the Great American race, joining Denny Hamlin and Sterling Marlin who did it in 2019 and 2020, and 1994 and ’95 respectively. Cindric will drive the No. 2 Discount Tire Team Penske Ford.
Rookie Riley Herbst will race in his first Daytona 500 and first Cup start with Rick Ware Racing, sporting the No. 15 Sunny D Ford. The Las Vegas native has competed in 109 Xfinity races, bagging 54 top-10 finishes.
Herbst said: “It’s such a big event and for it be my first Cup start will be a crazy experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do behind the wheel.”
Catch the 65th running of the Daytona 500 this Sunday at 2:30pm ET!
Wednesday 8:15pm ET – Cup Series single car qualifying
Thursday 7pm ET – Bluegreen Vacations Duels (Cup Series two 60-lap qualifying races)
Friday 5:35pm ET – 1st Cup Series 50 minute practice session
Friday 7pm ET – NextEra Energy 250 (Craftsman Truck Series 100-lap race)
Saturday 10:30am ET – 2nd Cup Series 50 minute practice session
Saturday 5pm ET – Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 (Xfinity Series 120-lap race)
Sunday 2:30pm ET – 65th running of the Daytona 500 (Cup Series 200-lap race)
Featured Image: 20: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.”
Alex Bowman will miss Talladega with concussion-like symptoms.
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.
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 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)
Will Power ran an intelligent race allowing title rival and teammate Josef Newgarden past on lap 46, settling for third place in the race to ensure locking up the championship by 16 points while Álex Palou stormed out to a 30 second lead over Newgarden by the end to win the Firestone Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.
Will Power led the opening 14 laps before a roulette of strategies began playing out on pit road. Palou took the lead away from Power on lap 27 while Newgarden squeezed past Power for second heading into the corkscrew on lap 46.
In the closing stages a train of cars threatened to undo Power’s championship hopes with Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist leading it but Power held on and created enough distance to ward off any threat and take the last spot on the podium and earn his second IndyCar championship.
Power post-race said: “I just knew I had to absolutely get the most out of those stints and not lose any more positions.”
The 41-year-old Australian won just one race this season, that being the final Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle compared with championship runner up Josef Newgarden’s five wins but his 12 top-five finishes, being three more than any other driver, bolstered him to his second NTT IndyCar Series championship, giving Team Penske their 17th IndyCar championship.
Power speaking to NBC said: “I had to drive the thing today. It was on the edge, very loose. Man, what a relief. What a relief to get that done.”
Will Power won his first championship in 2014 also with Team Penske.
Newgarden did nearly all he could to steal the championship away from Power on the final weekend but a crash in qualifying saw him start 25th compared to Power taking his 68th pole position, gaining a bonus championship point, and surpassing Mario Andretti’s record for all-time poles.
Newgarden started off aggressive gaining five positions on the opening lap before going long and switching to the softer red tyre that saw him move all the way up to seventh by lap 34. On pit strategy, Newgarden briefly took the lead for a few laps on lap 69 when Palou pitted but could not match Palou’s overall pace.
Post-race Newgarden said: “Even yesterday, with the heartache there, we came back, we fought, and we nearly got there. I’m proud of the effort. We’re going to come back stronger next year.”
Palou had blistering pace all race long but narrowly escaped trouble when leaving his pit box on his second stop as he scraped the rear of Rosenqvist’s car as he left his pit box.
IndyCar, despite it appearing to be an unsafe release, declared no action would be taken. This otherwise would have led to a penalty that could have unraveled Palou’s race. He had already overcome a six-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change that saw him start the race 11th.
Apart from making contact with Rosenqvist on pit road, Palou seem unfazed that he was still being sued by his own team owner, unsure where he will be racing next year.
Palou had a 20 second lead over Newgarden with 20 laps to go and led 67 of the 95 laps in total to earn his fourth career win and first win of the season for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Palou said: “Today was awesome. Strategy was on point. It’s good to finish a season with a win. We had some power there and good fuel mileage.”
Palou’s and Power’s teammates and remaining championship contenders did not appear to have anything for them and Newgarden.
Dixon and Ericsson struggled to keep from dropping out of the top 15 and attempted to work their way up the order by going off strategy but Dixon found himself down in 23rd after pitting while Ericsson came out 15th just past the 30 lap mark.
The same can be said for Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin as he found himself in 20th after pitting on lap 53 while Dixon was 24th.
Their strategy and pace did come to some fruition as McLaughlin, Ericsson, and Dixon found themselves nose to tail by lap 63 with McLaughlin playing defence for his Penske teammates up front.
By the end, McLaughlin impressively worked all his way up to finish sixth but not before having multiple scraps with Ericsson that saw the Swede take to the sand on multiple occasions. Ericsson also made an incredible save in the corkscrew after contact with Colton Herta. Ericsson finished ninth while Dixon finished 13th.
Dixon, McLaughlin, and Ericsson would finish third, fourth, and sixth respectively in the championship.
Dixon will have to wait to another year to attempt to become a seven-time IndyCar champion tying A.J. Foyt for the most championships, while McLaughlin has excelled in just his second season with three wins this year while Marcus Ericsson won this year’s Indianapolis 500, an outstanding achievement that has changed his life forever.
Away from the championship battle, it was a bittersweet day for British rookie Callum Ilott who had qualified second for the race and for the opening laps held his position. He was still running inside the top 10 after the first stint but as he was leaving the pit exit he a mechanical failure and stopped just past the Andretti hairpin, ending his day and brought out the only full course yellow of the race on lap 39.
It would be Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard who would be the highest finishing rookie in fifth. Lundgaard also wins the Rookie Of The Year competition finishing on 323 points, beating David Malukas by 18 points who finished 13th in the race.
Jimmie Johnson had a breakout day for his IndyCar road course programme being competitive all race-long, including making aggressive passes in the corkscrew and would finish 16th.
Full race results: 1st Álex Palou, 2nd Josef Newgarden, 3rd Will Power, 4th Felix Rosenqvist, 5th Christian Lundgaard, 6th Scott McLaughlin, 7th Romain Grosjean, 8th Pato O’Ward, 9th Marcus Ericsson, 10th Alexander Rossi, 11th Colton Herta, 12th Scott Dixon, 13th David Malukas, 14th Rinus VeeKay, 15th Devlin DeFrancesco, 16th Jimmie Johnson, 17th Simon Pagenaud, 18th Graham Rahal, 19th Helio Castroneves, 20th Jack Harvey, 21st Kyle Kirkwood, 22nd Simona de Silvestro, 23rd Takuma Sato, 24th Conor Daly, 25th Dalton Kellett, 26th Callum Ilott.
Top 10 in championship standings: 1st Will Power (560), 2nd Josef Newgarden (544), 3rd Scott Dixon (521), 4th Scott McLaughlin (510), 5th Álex Palou (510), 6th Marcus Ericsson (506), 7th Pato O’Ward (480), 8th Felix Rosenqvist (393), 9th Alexander Rossi (381), 10th Colton Herta (381).
Featured Image: Will Power and his No. 12 Team Penske celebrating the championship title with the Astor Cup trophy (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment
Marcus Ericsson won this Sunday’s Indy 500, capping off Ganassi’s dominant display throughout the Month of May. Ericsson held off Pato O’Ward in a two-lap shootout to win his first Indy 500 and Chip Ganassi’s first Indy 500 win in 10 years on Sunday. He had a three second lead over O’Ward with less than 10 laps to go but Ericsson’s teammate Jimmie Johnson crashed in turn two with six laps to go, bringing out the caution before IndyCar red flagged the race.
In the two-lap shootout that followed, Ericsson snaked around the track before O’Ward dived to the outside of him in turn one on the final lap but was unable to make the pass as Ericsson powered on before the race ended under caution came as Sage Karam crashed as Ericsson entered turn three, securing Ericsson the win.
In victory lane Ericsson said: “I knew the Huski Chocolate car was fast enough, but it was still hard. I had to do everything there at the end to keep him behind. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy.”
Polesitter and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon had controlled much of the race leading for 95 laps, and seemed set to challenge for his second Indy 500 win at the end but a speeding penalty on his final pit stop devastatingly cost him the chance. Dixon said: “It’s heartbreaking to be honest.”
After leading 95 laps on Sunday and becoming the all-time lap leader at the #Indy500, @scottdixon9 was given a pit speed violation.
This was Ericsson’s third IndyCar career win and his first oval win. it moves him from eighth to first in the points standings after the double points that was on offer. It was only the second time in history that a Swedish driver has won the Indy 500, the first being Kenny Brack in 1999.
Ericsson, nicknamed “The Sneaky Swede”, was under the radar for many but during practice, Ericsson’s car looked very strong and was hooked up to the race track. Ericsson said he was very confident with the car he had and believed he could indeed win this year’s Indy 500.
His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, ran inside the top five in the latter stages of the race and held onto his third place in the two-lap shootout splitting O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist who finished second and fourth in what was a fantastic showing by the Arrow McLaren SP drivers.
The race was tough as it was a hot race track and was windy throughout the race, making it tricky for the drivers. Turn two proved to be hazardous as usual with many cars crashing into the turn two wall after getting loose and spinning out. Three and four-wide action in the midfield on restarts was common but two wide through any turns closer to the front was rare. Out front, it was the likes of Dixon, Álex Palou, Conor Daly, O’Ward and Rosenqvist who were dictating the pace and managing their fuel consumption to set themselves up for the final stint of the race.
On the opening lap Palou took the lead away from Dixon down the back straightaway and the two Chip Ganassi drivers would swap places in the opening 10 laps in an effort to preserve fuel.
Rinus VeeKay, who arguably had one of the strongest cars in the race, was battling back and forth for second in the opening stint and came out right behind Dixon and Palou after the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 33. VeeKay had got by Dixon on lap 35 for second going into turn three but the leading ECR driver’s race would end early when on lap 38 he got loose in turn two and smashed into the wall before coming to a stop in the grass.
On the lap 47 restart as Palou and Dixon led the field back to green, Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, Rosenqvist and Kanaan went four-wide down the front straightaway with Sato going right around the outside to take sixth place. Dixon took the lead again on the following lap.
During the second round of pit stops on lap 69, the yellow flag came out for rookie Callum Ilott spinning out and crashing in turn two as Palou was making his way to the pits and was forced to drive down pit road despite pit road closing before he had reached the commitment line. Two laps later he had to take emergency service due to running out of fuel and would serve a penalty and go to the rear of the field.
Dixon, Daly and O’Ward would lead the field back to green on lap 78 and on lap 81, Daly, the hometown kid, would take the lead away from Dixon for a lap only for Dixon to take it back a lap later. Ericsson by this point had made his way up to fourth after starting the race in fifth.
Romain Grosjean was the next to fall victim to the turn two wall on lap 106, mirroring VeeKay’s race ending crash. Grosjean had been in the top 20 for the first half of the race.
On the restart O’Ward took the lead off Dixon by passing him on the outside into turn one while Ferrucci went boldly two-wide with Dixon all the way through turn one but backed out before turn two. Dixon would quickly take the lead back.
The next pit stop sequence saw O’Ward jump ahead of Dixon for the lead coming out of the pits with just over 50 laps to go with Arrow McLaren SP teammate Rosenqvist, running as high as fourth in the previous stint, now behind Dixon.
On lap 152, Scott McLaughlin brought out the yellow after smacking into the turn three wall before heading uncontrollably across the track into the turn four wall, nearly colliding with Ed Carpenter in the process.
The next 10 laps saw Dixon and O’Ward duel for the lead, swapping positions several times as they tried to control the race before making their final pit stop. Dixon had pitted from the lead on lap 175 but entered the pits hot and locked up his tyres. His speeding penalty took him out of contention for the win and saw Rosenqvist go from third to what would be the lead of the race when the pit cycle was compete, with Ericsson going from fifth to third and O’Ward holding second.
Ericsson soared past O’Ward with 20 laps to go and with 18 to go, there was Swede on Swede action as Ericsson got by Rosenqvist. A lap later, he had already pulled a three second gap as he flew by the lap traffic.
With 11 to go, Johnson made his final pit stop, officially handing over the lead to Ericsson who had a 3.4 second lead now over second place O’Ward but with six to go on fresh tyres, Johnson spun around in turn two and crashed head on into the wall, the last thing the race leader and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate wanted to see.
IndyCar red flagged the race in the interest of completing the race under racing conditions. Ericsson was not phased by the situation and in the two-lap shootout held the lead despite O’Ward’s best efforts, to win his first Indy 500.
Dixon would make his way through the field after his penalty to finish 21st while Palou would recover further from his earlier pit penalty to finish 9th. Kanaan worked his way up to the top five in the latter stages and finished an impressive third. Johnson while having started 12th, gradually slipped back through the field as the race went on and was towards the back when he crashed out.
Colton Herta had a race he would want to forget, after going to a backup car on Friday after a scary crash in practice where his car got airborne and ended up upside down, the race proved to be a disaster. His car was extremely loose and on lap 54 nearly went into the wall in the short chute in turns three and four. After going a lap down on lap 104 he would shortly have to retire from the race after experiencing a throttle sensor issue.
It would be Alexander Rossi who would lead the Andretti charge finishing fifth after making three-wide moves to come up through the field from 20th.
Hélio Castroneves may have not have won his fifth Indy 500 but he did patiently work his way up through the field with teammate Simon Pagenaud to finish seventh. Juan Pablo Montoya and his Arrow McLaren SP car proved strong in the race and the two-time Indy 500 winner methodically worked his way up from 30th to finish 11th. Prior to McLaughlin’s crash, Ferrucci had aggressively got up to fifth but would have to settle for 10th.
The next race is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on June 5th starting at 3pm ET.
Full race results: 1st. Marcus Ericsson, 2nd. Pato O’Ward, 3rd. Tony Kanaan, 4th. Felix Rosenqvist, 5th. Alexander Rossi, 6th. Conor Daly, 7th. Hélio Castroneves, 8th. Simon Pagenaud, 9th. Álex Palou, 10th. Santino Ferrucci, 11th. Juan Pablo Montoya, 12th. JR Hildebrand, 13th. Josef Newgarden, 14th. Graham Rahal, 15th. Will Power, 16th. David Malukas, 17th. Kyle Kirkwood, 18th. Christian Lundgaard, 19th. Ed Carpenter, 20th. Devlin DeFrancesco, 21st. Scott Dixon, 22nd. Marco Andretti, 23rd. Sage Karam, 24th. Jack Harvey, 25th. Takuma Sato, 26th. Stefan Wilson, 27th. Dalton Kellett, 28th. Jimmie Johnson, 29th. Scott McLaughlin, 30th. Colton Herta, 31st. Romain Grosjean, 32nd. Callum Ilott, 33rd. Rinus VeeKay.
Top 10 in points standings: 1st. Marcus Ericsson (226), 2nd. Pato O’Ward (213), 3rd. Álex Palou (212), 4th. Will Power (202), 5th. Josef Newgarden (174), 6th. Scott Dixon (166), 7th. Scott McLaughlin (162), 8th. Simon Pagenaud (157), 9th. Felix Rosenqvist (154), 10th. Colton Herta (142).
Featured Image: Marcus Ericsson (left) and team owner Chip Ganassi celebrate together in victory lane (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)
This Sunday the IndyCar Series will compete in what many say is the biggest race on the planet, the Indianapolis 500. Thirty-three drivers are set to go racing over 240mph around the 2.5 mile oval to try to be a winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
With just nine degrees of banking in each corner and insane speeds, the track demands great respect from the drivers. One small off-line mistake or one move too late could see a driver’s race over in a flash.
The 106th running of the event will see the 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon lead the field to green after producing the fastest pole speed in Indy 500 history with a four-lap average of 234.046mph. He is accompanied by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Álex Palou and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay on the front row, who collectively make it the fastest qualified front row in Indy 500 history.
The drivers will race around the oval for 200 laps, being 500 miles in length, with a minimum of five pit stops. The weather forecast for the Indy 500 is for it to be sunny with a high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit making it a slick racetrack, and with light to moderate winds, making it no easy challenge for the drivers to overcome.
The green flag for the 106th running of the Indy 500 will be at 12:45pm ET. The full race day schedule is as follows.
10:30am ET – Cars to the grid
11:47am ET – Driver introductions
12:18pm ET – Indy 500 pre-race ceremonies
12:29pm ET – “Drivers to your cars”
12:38pm ET – Command to Start Engines
12:45pm ET – The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500
Hélio Castroneves, who is starting from 27th, will be the first driver in the history of the race to be going for a fifth Indy 500 win to be the winningest Indy 500 driver in history after winning the 2021 Indy 500.
There are seven Indy 500 rookies in the field including Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean. Both drivers have been impressive throughout the Month of May and made last Sunday’s fast 12 qualifying session. Grosjean will start 9th and Johnson will start 12th.
Carb Day on Friday was the final practice session for the Indy 500 and just like qualifying, the Chip Ganassi Racing squad were at the top of the charts with 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan with the fastest time, followed by Marcus Ericsson in second and Scott Dixon in fourth. Dale Coyne Racing’s with RWR’s Takuma Sato, the two-time Indy 500 winner, went third fastest.
Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta has had to go to a backup car after crashing in turn one and getting airborne and landing upside down before making secondary contact with the turn two wall in the session. The driver has been cleared to race and will start 25th.
Scott Dixon set a sensational four-lap average of 234.046mph in the fast six to take his fifth Indy 500 pole, braking the Indy 500 pole speed record held by Scott Brayton’s 1996 233.718mph run. Dixon’s time was the second fastest qualifying run in Indy 500 history, only coming behind Arie Luyendyk 1996’s bump day qualifying run of 236.986mph.
Dixon was the last car to go out in the fast six and had teammate Alex Palou’s four-lap average of 233.499mph to beat for the pole. Dixon not only managed a 234mph plus average on his first lap but also his second with averages of 234.437mph and 234.162. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver earned back to back poles on Sunday, and is now second for all-time Indy 500 poles, only behind Rick Mears’s six.
Talking to NBC’s Marty Snider, the 2008 Indy 500 winner said: “This is what this place is about, it’s so amazing.”
Instead of the usual fast nine qualifying format, pole day was decided by two qualifying sessions that is used during the rest of the IndyCar season, the fast 12 followed by the fast six, for the first time.
In the fast 12, Jimmie Johnson, in turn one on lap one, understeered before getting a snap of oversteer and was mere inches from hitting the wall before evasively driving away from the wall in the short shoot. Johnson’s first lap was a 229.911 but by pedalling the throttle, came back to earn a four-lap average of 231.264mph, qualifying 12th. Johnson said to NBC that he had wanted to run full throttle for the entire first lap but the “tricky conditions” and “inexperience” caught him out.
Will Power, the sole Team Penske driverto make the fast 12, qualified 11th with a 231.534mph average but nearly hit the turn one wall twice on laps one and three. Sato qualified 10th with a consistent run of 231.670mph.
Romain Grosjean nearly smacked the turn one wall on lap two and appeared to be running light on downforce. The Indy 500 rookie managed to qualify 9th with a 231.999mph average. Talking to NBC afterwards he said “that was scary.”
The fight for making the fast six was very much on for the Arrow McLaren SP drivers of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist’s tricky handling Chevrolet managed a 232.182mph that initially put him sixth but O’Ward went faster with a 232.705mph average. Neither would end up making the fast six as Rinus VeeKay, the last driver to go out after setting the quickest four-lap average on Saturday, would go second overall after setting a four-lap average of 233.249mph including a first lap of 234.099mph.
The top six from the fast 12 would be made up of four Chip Ganassi Racing and two Ed Carpenter Racing cars. All of their times in the fast 12 had been in the 233mph plus average range. Tony Kanaan on a very consistent run did a 233.022mph average putting him sixth. Indiana native Ed Carpenter went fifth with a 233.073mph four-lap average including a first lap of 234.244.
Marcus Ericsson went fourth with a 233.166mph four lap average, Palou went third with a smooth run of 233.347mph and Dixon to nobody’s surprise went to the top with a 233.510mph four-lap average in what had been a very consistent run.
The fast six qualifying session was a battle between the Chip Ganassi Racing Honda’s of Dixon, Palou, Ericsson and Kanaan, and the Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet’s of VeeKay and Carpenter.
Despite the cooling conditions, and the increase in cloud cover, both Ericsson and Kanaan would go slower on their fast six runs, only managing a 232.764mph and a 232.372mph four-lap average respectively, qualifying fifth and sixth although Ericsson did have a super smooth run, making him a car to watch out for in Sunday’s race.
Carpenter would be incredibly consistent compared with his fast 12 time by completing a four-lap average of 233.080mph, putting him fourth overall.
The top three from the fast six would be VeeKay, Palou and Dixon. VeeKay was racing to be the youngest Indy 500 pole sitter in history but would have to settle with a third best average of 233.385mph. Palou went out and did a 233.499mph four-lap average including a first lap of 234.048mph, only to get beaten by Dixon’s recording breaking 234.046mph four-lap average.
Dixon, Palou and VeeKay will make up the front row for this weekend’s Indy 500, making it the fastest front row in Indy 500 history.
The next on track session for the IndyCar Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be on Friday for Carb Day and the Pit Stop Competition, ahead of Sunday’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The full qualifying results are as follows.
Fast 12: 1st Scott Dixon (233.510), 2nd Rinus VeeKay (233.429), 3rd Álex Palou (233.347), 4th Marcus Ericsson (233.166), 5th Ed Carpenter (233.073), 6th Tony Kanaan (233.022), 7th Pato O’Ward (232.705), 8th Felix Rosenqvist (232.182), 9th Romain Grosjean (231.999), 10th Takuma Sato (231.670), 11th Will Power (231.534), 12th Jimmie Johnson.
Fast six: 1st Scott Dixon (234.046), 2nd Álex Palou (233.499), 3rd Rinus VeeKay (233.385), 4th Ed Carpenter (233.080), 5th Marcus Ericsson (232.764), 6th Tony Kanaan (232.372).
Featured Image: Scott Dixon celebrates capturing his fifth Indy 500 pole and breaking the record for the fastest pole speed in Indy 500 history (Photo by Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment)