Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: Who Didn’t Return to NASCAR in 2023?

Each year, the crop of NASCAR drivers in national series competition is augmented by a smaller group: racers from the previous season whose careers did not bring them back to NASCAR Cup, Xfinity or Camping World Truck series competition that year.

For 2023, the list includes a handful of expected absences — think Todd Bodine and Jesse Little, who announced their retirements amid the 2022 season. To an extent, perhaps the eventual hanging up the helmet of former Cup champion Kurt Busch was also imminent, even though his official departure didn’t come until this year.

Then there’s Landon Cassill, who as of Jan. 1, 2023, had a full-time Xfinity ride. Or David Ragan — sure, a part-time competitor these days, but someone who had raced at least once a year for nearly two decades. Not to mention Joe Nemechek, who even in his later years always seemed to make it to the track at some point.

All of them and more are among this year’s list of drivers who didn’t return to NASCAR in 2023.

See also
Dropping the Hammer: Young Guns - the Next Generation

For past editions of this yearly article, which date back to 2015, click on the navigation bar below.

2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

John Atwell: After two failed attempts at making the Truck field at Circuit of the Americas in 2021 and ’22, John Atwell returned to solely Trans-Am racing this year.

Dillon Bassett: After family-owned Bassett Racing got out of Xfinity competition after 2022, Dillon Bassett shifted to working as a mechanic with TRICON Garage.

Ronnie Bassett Jr.: Unlike brother Dillon, Ronnie Bassett Jr. stayed behind the wheel frequently in 2023 as a competitor on the CARS Solid Rock Carriers Tour.

Greg Biffle: No NASCAR racing for the former Xfinity and Truck champion in 2023, but Greg Biffle could be found in the Camping World SRX Series via a one-off at Stafford Speedway, finishing fifth.

Todd Bodine: As expected, a national series career that stretched back to 1986 indeed ended for the youngest Bodine brother in 2022. He did, however, remain near the sport as part of FOX Sports 1’s NASCAR coverage.

Brandon Brown: Not only did Brandon Brown not return to NASCAR in 2023, his family-owned team, Brandonbilt Motorsports, also didn’t see the track this year.

Trey Burke: Trey Burke competed as a rookie in the USAC Silver Crown Series in 2023, coming home 10th in points.

Kurt Busch: Though there were rumblings of a possible part-time return in 2023 after his Pocono Raceway practice wreck that sidelined him in 2022, Busch called it a career in August, bringing to a close a 34-win, one-championship, future Hall of Fame tenure in the Cup Series.

Landon Cassill: Cassill was set for a second season in Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 in the Xfinity Series in 2023, but sponsorship woes with backer Voyager Digital’s bankruptcy pulled him from the car. He didn’t return to the track, making this year his first not in some kind of national series entry since debuting in Xfinity in 2007.

James Davison: A three-year streak (and five in six years) of NASCAR appearances came to a close for James Davison, who mostly competed in street and road racing in 2023.

Darren Dilley: Darren Dilley, who made his Xfinity debut at Portland International Raceway in 2022, continued competing in the Pacific Northwest.

Howie DiSavino: Howie DiSavino both raced and assisted other drivers locally and regionally in 2023, but the Chesterfield, Va., native did not return for another part-time Xfinity campaign with Alpha Prime Racing.

Drew Dollar: Drew Dollar does not appear to have raced in 2023. He competed in a pair of Xfinity events and a handful of ARCA Menards Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2022.

Chris Dyson: Sports car racing, as it often is, was the chief motorsport discipline for Chris Dyson in 2023 via his family’s Dyson Racing.

Santino Ferrucci: A third-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 was the highlight of the year for Santino Ferrucci, who ran the full NTT IndyCar Series schedule for AJ Foyt Racing.

Tate Fogleman: One-time Truck winner Tate Fogleman returned to CARS racing in 2023.

Patrick Gallagher: Patrick Gallagher ran the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship for Turner Motorsport, following a year when the Ohio native ran four Xfinity road courses for RSS Racing.

Derek Griffith: Derek Griffith could be found at short tracks across the country racing super late models.

Joey Hand: After playing the role of road course ringer for Rick Ware Racing in the Cup Series in 2022, Joey Hand went IMSA racing, as he often does, in 2023.

Scott Heckert: 2023 was the first time since 2017 with no NASCAR appearance for Scott Heckert, who worked as an engineer for sports car team Jr III Racing and ran some events himself.

Loris Hezemans: A rare Dutchman in NASCAR’s U.S.-based racing the past few years, Loris Hezemans largely competed for Comtoyou Racing in the 2023 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, snagging a win at Italy’s Monza Circuit in the silver division.

Ryan Huff: Ryan Huff again contested a part-time ARCA schedule, both for his family team and Fast Track Racing. His best finish came with the latter, a 15th-place result at Kansas Speedway.

Matt Jaskol: He didn’t race in NASCAR in 2023, but Matt Jaskol was still at the track: in October, he parachuted into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Cup event during pre-race ceremonies, a giant American flag in tow.

See also
Only Yesterday: What If Kurt Busch Hit the Barrels?

Jason Kitzmiller: CR7 Motorsports continued to compete in the Truck Series this year, but Jason Kitzmiller, who failed to qualify with the team at Daytona International Speedway last year, solely drove for the organization in ARCA competition in 2023. He also made appearances in the CARS Tour.

Buddy Kofoid: Perhaps one less dirt race for the Truck Series affected the potential NASCAR schedule for Buddy Kofoid, who continued to race in the World of Outlaws.

Daniil Kvyat: The 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship was the site of former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat‘s racing escapades this year with Prema Racing.

Julia Landauer: She’s continued working as a speaker, podcaster and entrepreneur, though racing was not in the cards for Julia Landauer after a two-race Xfinity stint for APR last year.

Brayton Laster: Brayton Laster is one of a handful of drivers on this list who, despite not competing in NASCAR’s national series this year, could be found on the ARCA circuit. He earned three top 10s in the main series amid seven starts.

Shane Lee: After splitting the then-fledgling Emerling-Gase Motorsports No. 35 with Joey Gase and Patrick Emerling in 2022, Shane Lee, unlike the other two, did not compete in 2023.

Jesse Little: Little’s retirement after the September 2022 Truck race at Bristol Motor Speedway held; he has since moved to a role within NASCAR (the company).

Blake Lothian: Drive for Diversity alum Blake Lothian was a CARS competitor in 2023.

Mike Marlar: Another dirt racer who didn’t make the trek to NASCAR’s Bristol weekend in 2023, Mike Marlar maintained his usual dirt late model schedule this year.

Tommy Joe Martins: After years of racing and owning teams, Tommy Joe Martins focused on the latter in 2023 with his Xfinity team APR, which fielded three full-time cars in the series.

Braden Mitchell: Braden Mitchell ran a variety of dirt races in 2023, alongside brother Bryson.

Bryson Mitchell: Like brother Braden, Mitchell competed on the dirt circuit this year, rather than trying his hand at another Truck start.

Kenko Miura: NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series featured a full-time Japan-based team in 2023 in Team Japan Needs24, driven by Kenko Miura.

Thad Moffitt: The grandson of Richard Petty was not a NASCAR competitor this year; instead, Thad Moffitt competed in Trans-Am cars.

Stan Mullis: MBM Motorsports did not feature Las Vegas’ Stan Mullis as part of its driver roster. He raced locally in 2023.

Joe Nemechek: Though he hadn’t made a NASCAR start since 2020, Nemechek had still made at least one attempt in a national series event every year since — that is, until 2023. Thus ends a streak of NASCAR racing dating all the way back to 1989. His son, John Hunter Nemechek, ran the full Xfinity schedule for JGR and will drive in the Cup Series in 2024 for Legacy Motor Club.

David Ragan: Like Nemechek, another lengthy NASCAR streak that came to a close was that of Ragan, who had appeared in at least one national series event every year since 2004. He remains an analyst for FOX Sports.

Harrison Rhodes: After returning in 2022 for the first time since 2018, Harrison Rhodes was out again in 2023. He does not appear to have raced anywhere this year.

Gar Robinson: Four wins on the year in WeatherTech competition for Gar Robinson, who made a one-off Xfinity appearance in 2022 for Jimmy Means Racing at COTA, failing to qualify.

Devon Rouse: Devon Rouse raced on dirt in 2023 rather than returning to NASCAR.

Dillon Steuer: Dillon Steuer continued racing dirt modifieds in 2023, particularly at Orange County Speedway in New York.

Kyle Tilley: The road course specialist Kyle Tilley ran WeatherTech events in 2023, snagging two podium finishes in four starts.

Jacques Villeneuve: 2022 marked a NASCAR return for former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, who ran the Daytona 500 for the newly formed Team Hezeberg. It proved to be a one-off; his racing exploits in 2023 included starts in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Dylan Westbrook: Ontario’s Dylan Westbrook maintained his usual sprint car schedule in 2023.

About the author

Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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