Certainly, let’s delve into the top stories from the 2023 NASCAR Cup season and add a unique twist to them:
1. Chicago Street Course: Where Racing Met the Windy City
The 2023 NASCAR Cup season kicked off with a bang as the series ventured into uncharted territory – the bustling streets of downtown Chicago. The inaugural street course race around the iconic Grant Park was nothing short of spectacular. Despite facing some unpredictable weather conditions, the racing action was electric. However, the biggest shocker of the weekend was the emergence of a new star, Shane van Gisbergen. The three-time Supercars champion made his NASCAR debut with Trackhouse Racing and dominated the field, securing a stunning victory. What makes this even more exciting is that van Gisbergen is gearing up for a full-time NASCAR venture in 2024, where he’ll compete in the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing and a partial Cup schedule with Trackhouse. Buckle up, NASCAR fans, because the future looks promising!
2. NASCAR’s Big TV Rights Deal: Streaming into the Future
Late last month, NASCAR made a game-changing announcement regarding its media rights. They inked a colossal seven-year, multi-billion-dollar TV rights deal for the Cup Series, featuring a streaming component for the very first time. With approximately $1.1 billion a year, this deal represents a 40 percent increase over NASCAR’s previous package, which was set to expire in 2024. Joining the ranks of TV partners Fox and NBC are TNT and streaming giants Prime Video and Max (formerly HBO Max). Additionally, the Xfinity Series races will have a new home starting in 2025 – the CW Network, with a deal reportedly worth over $115 million annually. It’s clear that NASCAR is embracing the digital age with open arms, ensuring fans can enjoy the action on various platforms.
3. NASCAR’s Global Impact at Le Mans
In a bid to expand its international footprint, NASCAR made waves at the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours. The Garage 56 entry turned heads as a trio of notable drivers – seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Le Mans overall winner Mike Rockenfeller, and F1 World Champion Jenson Button – took on the challenge. They raced a modified version of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, showcasing NASCAR’s adaptability and spirit of competition. While they finished 39th in the competitive field, the exposure and collaboration between various entities like Hendrick F1 Flows, Chevrolet, IMSA, and Goodyear demonstrate NASCAR’s global ambitions.
4. North Wilkesboro: A Phoenix Rising
One of the most heartwarming stories of the 2023 season was the revival of the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway. After a hiatus since 1996, this .625-mile short track roared back to life, hosting NASCAR competition once again. The resurrection of this beloved track was no small feat, involving extensive negotiations with state and local government officials and an $18 million investment in infrastructure improvements by Speedway F1 Flows. The track is currently undergoing a repave, and fans can look forward to it hosting the All-Star race in 2024. It’s a testament to the enduring passion of NASCAR enthusiasts and the dedication of those behind the scenes.
5. Ryan Blaney: A New Champion Rises
In 2023, the NASCAR Cup Series crowned a fresh champion in the form of Ryan Blaney. Not only did Blaney secure the title, but he did so with flair, winning two critical races during the intense 10-race playoffs. This victory marked the fourth overall Cup championship for Team Penske and the 44th in the team’s illustrious history. It’s clear that Team Penske is thriving in the era of the Next Gen car, with Joey Logano claiming the title in 2022. Blaney’s championship reignites the team’s dominance and sets the stage for more thrilling seasons ahead.
6. Denny Hamlin: Embracing the Villain Role
Every great story needs a villain, and in 2023, Denny Hamlin willingly donned that role in the NASCAR Cup Series. He relished the boos from displeased fans and engaged in intense on-track battles, most notably with his friend Kyle Larson. The Pocono incident left Larson furious, but Hamlin remained unapologetic, even hinting at future controversy. His podcast, aptly named “Actions Detrimental,” raised eyebrows and led to penalties after he openly admitted to certain on-track tactics. Hamlin’s unabashed embrace of the villain persona added an intriguing layer to the 2023 season, making him a driver fans loved to hate.
7. Chase Elliott: A Season of Ups and Downs
NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Chase Elliott, had an unusual year in 2023. Despite his popularity, he went winless and missed the playoffs for the first time in his career. A leg injury sidelined him for six weeks, during which Josh Berry and Jordan Taylor filled in for him. Elliott’s frustration reached a boiling point when he intentionally wrecked Denny Hamlin during the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, earning a suspension. It was a turbulent year for the Hendrick F1 Flows Chevrolet driver, and he’ll undoubtedly be eager to put it behind him and return to his winning ways.
8. Noah Gragson’s Redemption Journey
Noah Gragson’s rookie season in 2022 was challenging, but in 2023, he faced a different kind of adversity. After liking a controversial meme, he found himself suspended from Legacy Motor Club and NASCAR itself. However, Gragson didn’t let this setback define him. He parted ways with LMC, underwent sensitivity training, and is set to make his comeback in 2024, taking the wheel of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. It’s a story of resilience and personal growth, reminding us that everyone deserves a second chance.
9. Kevin Harvick: A Fond Farewell
The 2023 season marked the end of an era as Kevin Harvick, the last full-time driver to have competed in the pre-playoff era, retired. With 60 wins and the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship under his belt, Harvick left an indelible mark on the sport. Despite challenges at SHR, he consistently outperformed his teammates. While he didn’t secure a victory in his final season, he did finish on a high note, leading laps in his farewell race and earning respect from fans and fellow competitors alike. Harvick’s transition to the FOX Sports booth in 2024 ensures that his legacy will continue to shine in NASCAR.
10. Ross Chastain: From Feuds to Triumph
Ross Chastain’s 2023 season was a rollercoaster ride. He started the year with a bang, engaging in feuds with the likes of Denny Hamlin and even throwing punches at Noah Gragson. However, things took a downturn after a controversial incident at Darlington. Despite starting the playoffs as the points leader, Chastain fell to the back of the top-ten. Yet, he ended the year on a high note, becoming the first non-final four driver in the elimination era to win the season finale. It’s a testament to Chastain’s resilience and his ability to bounce back from adversity.
These stories from the 2023 NASCAR
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NASCAR 2023 Season Highlights
Q: What was the standout moment of the 2023 NASCAR season?
A: The standout moment of the 2023 NASCAR season was undoubtedly the debut of the street race in downtown Chicago around Grant Park. It was a stunning success with unpredictable weather challenges, featuring a surprise winner, Shane van Gisbergen, making his NASCAR debut.
Q: Were there any significant media developments in NASCAR for 2023?
A: Yes, there were major media developments in 2023. NASCAR secured a new seven-year, multi-billion-dollar TV rights deal for its Cup Series, which included a streaming component for the first time. This deal involved an increase of about 40% in the rights’ value, and it introduced new partners like TNT, Prime Video, and Max to the NASCAR broadcasting family.
Q: How did NASCAR make an impact on the global stage in 2023?
A: NASCAR made a notable global impact in 2023 by entering the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours with a Garage 56 entry. The team featured renowned drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller, and Jenson Button, competing in a modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. While finishing 39th in a competitive field, this venture showcased NASCAR’s adaptability and international ambitions.
Q: Who emerged as the champion of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season?
A: Ryan Blaney emerged as the champion of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season. He clinched the title with critical victories during the playoffs, marking the fourth overall championship for Team Penske and continuing their dominance in the Next Gen car era.
Q: Did any NASCAR drivers embrace a villainous role in 2023?
A: Yes, in 2023, Denny Hamlin embraced the role of the villain in the NASCAR Cup Series. He engaged in on-track rivalries, openly admitting to certain tactics, and even had a podcast named “Actions Detrimental.” Hamlin’s outspoken and controversial persona added an intriguing dimension to the season.
Q: What challenges did Chase Elliott face during the 2023 NASCAR season?
A: Chase Elliott faced several challenges in 2023. He went winless for the year, missed the playoffs for the first time in his career, and was sidelined for six weeks due to a leg injury. Additionally, he was suspended for one race after intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin during the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Q: Who retired from NASCAR after the 2023 season?
A: Kevin Harvick, the last full-time driver who competed in the pre-playoff era, retired from NASCAR after the 2023 season. He concluded his career with 826 starts, 60 wins, and the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Q: What is the story behind Noah Gragson’s suspension in 2023?
A: Noah Gragson was suspended in 2023 after liking a controversial meme that mocked the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. This led to his suspension from Legacy Motor Club and later from NASCAR. Gragson parted ways with LMC, underwent sensitivity training, and is set to return in 2024.
Q: How did Ross Chastain’s season unfold in 2023?
A: Ross Chastain had a tumultuous season in 2023. He started the year with feuds and confrontations, including a physical altercation with Noah Gragson. However, he faced challenges later in the season, including a controversial incident at Darlington. Despite this, Chastain rebounded, winning the season finale and showcasing his resilience.
More about NASCAR 2023 Season Highlights
- 2023 NASCAR Cup Series on NASCAR official website
- Chicago Street Course Debut on NASCAR official website
- NASCAR’s New TV Rights Deal on NASCAR official website
- NASCAR’s Le Mans 24 Hours Entry on NASCAR official website
- Ryan Blaney’s Championship Victory on NASCAR official website
- Denny Hamlin’s Villainous Persona on NASCAR official website
- Chase Elliott’s Challenging Season on NASCAR official website
- Kevin Harvick’s Retirement on NASCAR official website
- Noah Gragson’s Suspension and Comeback on NASCAR official website
- Ross Chastain’s Turbulent Season on NASCAR official website