NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season is over, and another year of NASCAR Cup Series racing is in the record books.
With the offseason upon us, I will take a closer look at the most notable statistics, trends and oddities of the 2023 Cup season.
- 2023 produced 15 different winners and one first-time victor (Shane van Gisbergen).
- With Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and AJ Allmendinger recording wins in 2023, only three winners from the Gen 6 era are winless in the Next Gen car: Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola and Justin Haley.
- William Byron became the first driver in the Next Gen era to record six wins.
- Chase Elliott led all drivers with 857 laps led in 2022. Four drivers eclipsed that mark in 2023: Kyle Larson (1,127), Byron (1,016), Denny Hamlin (998) and Truex (899).
- Elliott led all drivers with an average finish of 12.5 in 2022. Three drivers beat him in 2023: Byron (11.0), Chris Buescher (12.1) and Hamlin (12.4).
- Nineteen drivers led at least 100 laps this season.
- The October race at Talladega Superspeedway had 70 lead changes, the most in a single race since 2011.
Crowning a New Champion
- Blaney joined Kevin Harvick in 2014 as the only champions of the elimination format to end the season with three top-two finishes.
- Blaney joined Harvick in 2014 and Elliott in 2020 as the only champions to win the penultimate race of the season and the Round of 8 finale.
- With 10 career Cup wins, Blaney has the fewest of a champion since Keselowski in 2012, who won his first title with nine career wins.
- Blaney won the title with eight top-five finishes and an average finish of 14.1, both of which are the lowest marks of a champion in the modern era. The previous lows were Tony Stewart in 2011 (nine top fives) and Jimmie Johnson in 2016 (average finish of 14th).
- With Joey Logano’s 2022 title and Blaney’s 2023 championship, Team Penske recorded back-to-back Cup titles for the first time.
- Ford became the first manufacturer since Chevrolet in 2001 to sweep the driver’s championships in the Cup Series, Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series.
A Hall-of-Fame Career
- With a seventh-place finish at Phoenix Raceway, Harvick ended his Cup career with 60 wins, 251 top fives, 444 top 10s, 31 poles, 16,058 laps led and an average finish of 12.8 in 826 career starts.
- Harvick became the first driver to score a top-10 finish in his final race since Jeff Gordon at Martinsville Speedway in 2016 (sixth).
- Harvick led 23 laps in his final race and became the first driver since Carl Edwards at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2016 (47 laps) to lead more than 20 laps in his final start.
- Harvick ended his career with 21 consecutive top-10 finishes at Phoenix, an all-time record for a driver at any track.
- With 60 wins, Harvick retires as the 10th-winningest Cup driver of all time.
Streaks, Streaks, Streaks
- With a win at Auto Club Speedway in February, Kyle Busch scored a Cup win in a record-breaking 19th consecutive season, snapping the tie he had held with Richard Petty.
- Two season-long winning streaks came to an end: Elliott (five seasons) and Alex Bowman (four).
- For the first time in its 15-year history, Stewart-Haas Racing failed to score a Cup win.
- Ross Chastain’s victory at Phoenix in November ended a nine-year streak of the champion winning the season finale. The last time a driver accomplished that was Hamlin in 2013 (the final season before the introduction of the elimination format).
- With a 2023 Daytona 500 victory, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. broke a 199-race winless streak, the fourth-longest in Cup history behind Bill Elliott from 1994-2001 (226 races), Buescher from 2016-2022 (222) and Truex from 2007-2013 (218).
- Buescher (Richmond-Michigan) and Byron (Las Vegas-Phoenix) joined Harvick as the only drivers to score back-to-back wins in the Next Gen car.
- The races at the Chicago street course and Atlanta Motor Speedway in July were rain shortened, marking the first time since 2003 that consecutive Cup races failed to reach the scheduled distance.
A Flawless Debut
- Van Gisbergen became the first driver of the modern era (and the first since Johnny Rutherford in 1963) to win his Cup debut.
- Van Gisbergen’s win marked the first Cup for a No. 91 car since 1953.
- A native of New Zealand, van Gisbergen became the fifth foreign-born driver to win a Cup race, joining Earl Ross of Canada, Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia, Marcos Ambrose of Australia and Daniel Suarez of Mexico.
- Until making his second career Cup start (a 10th-place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course), van Gisbergen joined Marvin Burke to be the only drivers to be undefeated in Cup competition.
Changing of the Guard
- With Harvick’s retirement, only seven full-time drivers have more than 10 career Cup wins: Busch (63), Hamlin (51), Keselowski (35), Truex (34), Logano (32), Larson (23) and Chase Elliott (18).
- Of the 36 Cup races this season, 22 of them were won by a driver with 10 or fewer Cup wins. Thirteen were scored by a driver with six or fewer Cup wins.
- Of the 36 Cup races this season, 24 were won by drivers younger than 35 while 10 were earned by drivers younger than 30.
- With a fresh crop of young talent and three Rookie of the Year contenders for 2024 (Josh Berry, Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar), the future of the series is bright.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.