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2023 Season – Predictions, Thoughts, & News

Kevin Harvick Retirement

2023 will be Harvick’s 23rd season in the cup series. His on-track accolades speak for themselves. 2014 Cup Series Champion, 2-time Xfinity (Busch) Series Champion, and his 60 wins in NASCAR’s premier series has him tied with Kyle Busch for 9th on the all-time wins list. He has also been one of the most consistent performing drivers over his career with an average career finish of 12.7. He is a sure-fire hall of famer and one of the greatest drivers to ever compete in NASCAR.


His retirement is going to leave a massive hole in the sport. Especially in a day and age where drivers are scared to speak their minds freely. While the world has evolved and we are more conscious of how our words affect others, drivers are more concerned about keeping a “positive brand” than saying what they think. Harvick is not a person you ever have to worry about telling you what he thinks you want to hear. People are just looking for more authenticity from drivers, but don’t let me get on a tangent. We’ll save that for another post.


If I could talk to him all I would want to say is thank you.


Next Gen Car: Good Idea?

The 2022 season was the debut of the new Next Gen car. The idea of having a car that can go from Super Speedways to short tracks, to mile and a half, and to road courses is great. What actually happened was massive expenses to teams, costly parts failures, safety issues, and multiple injuries.


Before the season had started drivers were voicing their concerns about the crash impacts of the new car. Their fears came to fruition. Alex Bowman missed 3 races due to a concussion and Kurt Busch’s career was essentially ended by his crash at Pocono. Both crashes were rear collisions and NASCAR seems to have the problem narrowed down to the issue being the stiffness of the rear clip due to the new independent rear suspension of the car. Hopefully for all the drivers’ sakes they have this issue fixed. No matter who you root for or who you boo, I don’t believe anybody wants to see a driver get injured.


With all the single source parts that NASCAR is forcing teams to use, the expenses for teams were higher than they had ever been. One of the selling points for this car was that it was supposed to save money for teams by having to build less cars. Bigger teams were able to build specific short track cars, speedways cars, etc. Single source parts were also supposed to be one of the ways to make the series more competitive across the board by making teams use the same parts.


Here's the problem with all of that. Teams are not allowed to modify ANY single source parts. Some parts were allowed to be fixed back to the standard specification, and others weren’t. So if you weren’t allowed to fix it, even if you could, you would have to buy a new part. Multiple teams would have the same parts failures and most of these failures were single source parts. Normally teams would be able to fix the issues with these parts, but with the new car teams were at the mercy of these parts manufactures and the rule book. All this did was just make teams shell out more money for parts that they knew weren’t going to work right.


This car undoubtably underperformed compared to the expectations set for it. While it was fun to see all the different race winners this year, the fact that the car was this unsafe and the way cars would lose momentum it was just a very big letdown. NASCAR had a lot of work to do with this car over the winter and with just a couple of weeks left before the Daytona 500 the jury is still out.


2023 Predictions

There will not be 19 or more different winners this year. I don’t think that is too big of a prediction, but I do think that we will see some new repeat winners this year. I’ll make another post just about my entire playoff predictions. So, for this I’ll just start with Tyler Reddick wins at least 3 races again. Reddick will be piloting the #45 car for 23XI racing this year, taking over for the now retired Kurt Busch. 23XI didn’t just hit the ground running within their first two years. They are completely sprinting. Bubba Wallace got the team their first win in 2021 at Talladega, and in 2022 they got 2 wins as a team. Both of those wins last season came from the #45 team. Kurt won at Kansas in May and Bubba won at the same track in September.


At the beginning of the year Reddick looked like a definite front runner for the championship with 4 top 10s in the first 9 races with 3 of those being top 5s. After that his season was very up and down. If he wasn’t finishing towards the front of the field, he was towards the back. There weren’t too many examples of him running in the middle. He did end the year with 3 total wins and making the playoffs. He was eliminated after the first round of the playoffs, but I definitely expect he will make a deeper run this year. Just based on his talent and the momentum that 23XI has coming into the season.


Now, back to my first point. There will be more multiple race winners this year. We see this in all forms of racing when new cars and/or specifications are released. The first year as teams are figuring it out, the field is more level. However, once the next season comes along and teams have more opportunity to run simulations, make adjustments, and study the car so much that the cream will rise to the top. Hendrick, JGR, Penske, and 23XI will undoubtably have most of the race wins. There are a few drivers that I think will make some noise for race wins though.


Unexpected Winners

If Kyle Busch wasn’t at Richard Childress Racing (RCR), he would not be on this list. While Reddick did have 3 wins with the #8 team that Busch now calls home, there were lots of performance inconsistency. In the second season of the Next Gen car, it is going to be harder for smaller teams to be able to compete. However, I do believe Kyle Busch will break “The King” Richard Petty’s record of consecutive seasons with a win. Busch’s talent alone should be able to get him at least 1 win. Outside of that, his season will be very up and down being with the new team. There will be some very high highs, but some very low lows as well.


I’m going to put 2 drivers together for this one. Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher are bringing Rousch-Fenway Keselowski (RFK) racing back into the spotlight for good reasons and should have at least one if not both drivers with wins and in the playoffs next season. They swept the Duels at Daytona before the 500 and Buescher brought the team their first win at a non-super speedway track since 2014 at Bristol. Ironically this was also the track that the last race was won at. Outside of those two things there wasn’t much to celebrate through most of the year. Keselowski was massively penalized early in the season, essentially taking him out of playoff contention without a win. Lots of missed opportunities, pit road penalties taking them out of contention of races, and just some plain old bad luck. When the cars showed up to the racetrack, it was very hot and cold on the setup. The cars were either dialed in great or they ran at the back all day.


However, once the playoffs started that where we started to see real improvements. Even though they weren’t in contention for the championship, including the win at Bristol, between both drivers they had 10 top 15 finishes, 1 win that could have been won by either driver if Brad doesn’t blow a tire in Stage 3 of the race, and even a pole at Texas. This team has speed in their cars. We saw it at Daytona, Talladega, Atlanta, and Texas. If they can get the setups better on the cars, this team could be the wild card next season, like Trackhouse was this year.


Wrap-It

This season will probably be, from the statistic perspective, very boring. Hopefully NASCAR gets the issues fixed with the Next Gen car that will produce some great on-track action and be safer for the drivers. The cream will rise to the top this season and we will have less 1-win drivers in the playoffs. Some drivers will make some noise like Busch, Keselowski, and Buescher, but most of the wins are going to go to the bigger teams. Finally, this will be “The Closer” Kevin Harvick’s last season in the cup series. Thank you for all the great memories and good luck on your future endeavors.



-M.B.

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