Now that we have made it halfway through the NASCAR 2023 season, let us take a look at how it has gone so far.
Out of 18 points-earning races, there have been 12 different winners, including Shane Van Gisbergen who won the most recent inaugural Chicago street race and is not a regular in the series.
All of the drivers that have won so far are locked into the playoffs except Shane Van Gisbergen, which leaves the remaining drivers trying to get one of those 5 remaining spots with either a win or points.
Daytona 500 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was our first winner of the season in an overtime finish. While he is usually good at restrictor plate races, no one expected him to win and lock himself into the playoffs so soon.
Pala Casino 400 – Kyle Busch got his first of three wins so far this season with his new team RCR. People were expecting him to do well this season, but no one thought he would get his first win with the new team in the second points race of the season.
Pennzoil 400 – William Byron gets his first win of three of the season at Las Vegas in an exciting overtime finish.
United Rentals Work United 500 – William Byron made it two in a row winning at Phoenix in another exciting overtime finish. Byron credits his pit crew for their great calls in the last two races.
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix – First road course of the season at Circuit of the Americas proved why fans like the road courses, lots of on-track action. Tyler Reddick got the win in the third overtime making him the fourth driver to lock himself into the playoffs.
Toyota Owners 400 – Kyle Larson got his first win of the season and seemed to have broken some of his bad luck by winning the race at Richmond by holding off the rest of the field for the final 25 laps of the race.
Food City Dirt Race – Christopher Bell gets the win and locks himself into the playoffs with the Bristol dirt race. Bell just seemed to have the track figured out and there was plenty of short track/dirt track action to keep the fans happy.
NOCO 400 – Kyle Larson gets another win at the Martinsville short track. A late-race pit stop gamble of two tires over four gave him the win in a surprisingly tame Martinsville race.
GEICO 500 – As usual, Talladega does not disappoint when it comes to racing. Two overtimes, a multi-car accident on the final overtime lap, and just enough fuel to get to the checkered flag gave Kyle Busch another win for RCR. They knew they were gambling by staying out for the final overtime, but they also knew they would not have a chance to win if they pitted for fuel and luckily for them, it paid off.
Würth 400 – Martin Truex Jr. ended his 54-race winless streak with a win at Dover on a rain-delayed Monday race. Starting 17th and methodically working his way through the field he finally got the win. What made this win even more special was that it was a Dover sweep for the Truex family with his younger brother winning the Xfinity race at Dover on Saturday in his first Xfinity start.
Advent Health 400 – Denny Hamlin gave a late race bump to Kyle Larson to go on to win the race at Kansas. Hamlin was hungry for a win and ended his 33-winless streak with the win, he even admitted he did it on purpose which caused a flurry of talk from fans.
Goodyear 400 – William Byron got his third win of the season when he capitalized off of the late race incident between Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain when they were battling for the lead. Darlington, known as the track “too tough to tame” puts on some great short-track racing and Larson and Chastain just added to it. It also wasn’t the first or the last time these two have tangled.
Coca-Cola 600 – Another rain-delayed and rain-shortened Monday race saw Ryan Blaney end his 59-race winless streak and lock him into the playoffs. Not only was this race run on Monday, but it was not your typical boring follow-the-leader race. One incident that got a lot of people talking was between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, the incident took both of them out. Hamlin said Elliott threw a “tantrum” and wrecked him on purpose, Elliott of course denied it was intentional. After reviewing things NASCAR deemed it was intentional and suspended Elliott for the next race.
Enjoy Illinois 300 – Kyle Busch got his third win of the season from the pole at World Wide Technology Raceway in overtime, but he had to work for it. He had to hold off the field for five restarts in the final 40 laps of the race and only beat out Denny Hamlin by 0.517 seconds. Whoever thought that this season was going to be a struggling/learning season for Busch and RCR seems to be sadly mistaken.
Toyota/Save Mart 350 – Martin Truex Jr. grabs his second win of the season at Sonoma Raceway in a fairly dominant fashion. So far his season is going well, he ends his winless streak and adds a second win and the season is not over yet.
Ally 400 – Ross Chastain got his first win of the season at Nashville Superspeedway from the pole. He had a great car and he was the one to beat and he had to hold off Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin for the win.
Ambetter Health 400 – Joey Logano got the win from the pole. It did not look like he would do, it looked like Keselowski was going to get the win at Atlanta, but a last-lap push from Christopher Bell and a last-lap pass of Keselowski gave Logano his first win of the season.
Grant Park 220 – NASCAR’s first street race in Chicago gave Shane van Gisbergen his first NASCAR win, in his first start no less. He did not lead all the laps, but he was up there in the top three to five for most of the race and was in front when it mattered the most. The race started late because of rain and was shortened because of darkness, but I do not think it would have made much of a difference in the outcome.
There are still five more spots not locked in for the playoffs that the drivers will be vying for in the second half of the season.
Let’s hope that the second half of the season is as exciting as the first!
Jon Is a 58-year-old US Navy veteran living in Oklahoma, OK for the past 30 years. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have three adult children. He is heavily into politics, the Detroit Lions, and the Oklahoma Sooners (BOOMER SOONER BABY). Jon is an IT Support Specialist by day and a professional writer by night. He has been writing online for the better part of 30 years and much of it for other people. This is his first opportunity to get credit for his writing!