When you have been to look again eventually yr’s NASCAR Cup Sequence season, you’d most likely instantly bear in mind the important thing seasons of this season. You had Ross Chastain, the previous watermelon grower from Florida who proved he actually belongs within the Cup Sequence by ending second within the factors standings. There was Christopher Bell, whose sturdy second half of the season earned him a spot in Championship 4 for the primary time in his profession, and Chase Elliott, who was in rivalry for the title for the third yr in a row. Nevertheless, it was Joey Logano who was the largest winner of the yr, claiming his second Cup championship on the season-ending race in Phoenix.
Whereas there have been many success tales in 2022, you additionally had fairly just a few drivers that did not reside as much as expectations. For some, like Harrison Burton and Cole Custer, the turnaround window is more likely to be longer than a yr or two. Nevertheless, for the opposite drivers, we see a a lot clearer path to restoration in 2023. Listed here are three of these drivers.
The damage put an enormous damper on Alex Bowman’s 2022 season. After struggling a concussion through the September race at Texas Motor Speedway, the driving force of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Chevy missed races at Talladega, Charlotte Roval, Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, and was subsequently eradicated from the Spherical of 12.
Heading into the brand new season, not solely will Bowman be wholesome, however he’ll even have a brand new crew chief in Blake Harris. Throughout his rookie yr within the Cup Sequence, Harris helped lead Michael McDowell to his twelfth top-ten end, doubling the earlier driver’s finest. Harris will apparently have extra expertise to work with, as Bowman has received 4 trophies in 2021. Well being and inconsistent driving could have outlined Bowman in 2022, however we anticipate 2023 to deliver the change he and Hendrick can each consider in.
The 2022 season directed by Kevin Harvick was traditionally unhealthy.
The 47-year-old veteran completed the season fifteenth within the factors standings, marking his first factors exterior the highest 10 since 2009 when he completed nineteenth. However, the 2023 season will likely be completely different for Harvick for one main motive: Will probably be his final earlier than he hangs up his racing swimsuit and helmet ceaselessly. Because the 2014 cup champion mentioned in his nation Official retirement announcement, “This final season is the very best season.” Now, I am not taking it actually right here – he is not going to win a second championship. However I believe, with certain retirement, we’ll see a return to Harvick that we noticed simply two years in the past. Harvick from 2018 who received eight races on his method to third within the standings. Harvick from 2019 who completed third 3 times within the standings. Harvick from the 2020 common season title. You get the purpose. He goes out with a bang.
Harvick additionally has a number of main milestones arising in 2023. For instance, he is scheduled to make his 800th profession Cup begin on the Talladega race in April, and if all goes as deliberate and he runs a full season, he’ll go Jeff Gordon and Darrell Waltrip and change into the driving force Eighth on the record of most profession begins at 826. He’s additionally 99 laps wanting main the 16,000 laps of his Cup profession, and 5 of the highest 5 finishes inside a 250 best-of-five end.
It isn’t like Harvick has something to show within the Cup Sequence, however in the case of legacy and all that is on the road this yr, you’d higher assume he’d be pushed to make an announcement. He is prepared for a giant comeback in 2023, I can really feel that.
All issues thought-about, Ryan Blaney had a really sturdy 2022 season. Though he went winless, Blaney made it via the heats and finally completed eighth within the factors standings. That was because of some pretty constant racing to place collectively 4 top-fives and 6 top-10s. However the strain on the 29-year-old Ohio native to carry out on present is extra evident now than ever. why? As a result of fellow defending Cup champion Joey Logano. Now, Staff Penske undoubtedly needs its second-best Cup driver to reside as much as his full potential (the staff additionally options Austin Cindrick, who’s coming into his second season), however nobody has increased expectations of Blaney than he does for himself.
Regardless of making it to the eighth spherical, Blaney’s failure to attain a single win looms massive for a ninth-year driver, particularly throughout a season when there appeared to be a brand new winner each week. Constant racing is nice in the case of accumulating factors, however successful is an absolute confidence enhance for the driving force. If he hopes to change into his personal NASCAR driver, Blaney wants that enhance.
Blaney: “I hope we win one” He mentioned Again in november. “We had an ideal automotive to do it but it surely simply did not occur. I am pleased with the trouble. We had a successful automotive and it did not.”
In terms of drivers prepared for a serious makeover season, Blaney definitely has essentially the most promise. It seems to be like there are just a few small tweaks left from reaching a dominant race this yr. He had two enormous errors in races that would have turned the tide of his season (playoff races in Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami particularly come to thoughts). Anticipate him to not make the identical errors once more. It is a new yr, new Ryan Blaney in 2023.