February 8, 2023

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The Sports Fanatics

Can a NASCAR crew duplicate what Hendrick did last calendar year?

Hendrick Motorsports experienced a shockingly sturdy begin to the 2022 NASCAR Cup period, especially considering so considerably was unknown about the new Following Gen car or truck.

Hendrick motorists won three of the initially 5 level races of the year, an accomplishment that no crew had accomplished since car proprietor Carl Kiekhaefer’s Chrysler 300s won a few of the initial 5 in the 1956 period.

Kyle Larson received at Vehicle Club Speedway in the 2nd race of the yr. Alex Bowman scored at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and William Byron received at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

A lot more: Issues to view for in 2023

Hendrick Motorsports drove on to lead all teams with 11 wins previous calendar year, even though Group Penske grabbed the championship with Joey Logano. However, Hendrick’s incredibly hot commence was noteworthy for scoring a bit of background and demonstrating when once more that the Chevrolet crew continues to be just one of the sport’s giants.

Can anybody duplicate Hendrick’s speedy start in 2023?

The very first 5 details race of the yr are at the same areas as previous season — Daytona Intercontinental Speedway (Feb. 19), Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 26), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5), Phoenix Raceway (March 12) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 19).

In the 2nd year of the radically unique Upcoming Gen car or truck, with a extended time of trials and troubles behind them, groups are most likely to have a a great deal better grip on the car’s would like and wants as 2023 opens. In principle, that should make this yr a lot more competitive than final, but it won’t be astonishing if Hendrick or yet another electrical power staff has various winning operates in the 1st weeks of the season.

Hendrick’s solid driver lineup — Chase Elliott, Larson, Byron and Bowman — returns. All four gained races past 12 months, and Elliott, Byron and Larson finished in the top 10 in factors. The depth of mechanical expertise and practical experience on the Hendrick Motorsports campus around Charlotte Motor Speedway is amongst the most impressive in international automobile racing. Hendrick generally has the quickest automobiles in Daytona primary to the 500, and several would be amazed to see a Hendrick motor vehicle win in the 500 and much more achievement over the initial weeks of the agenda.

Can the new edition of Richard Childress Racing be rough early? Quite a few will appear for Kyle Busch to inject new lifestyle — and a true probability at a championship — into a single of the sport’s oldest teams. He could shine early, if only to show the doubters completely wrong. And Austin Dillon is a former Daytona 500 winner.

Crew Penske is a menace each individual 7 days. Logano completed past time racing with model and in the end sitting down in the throne space. Ryan Blaney will glimpse to conclude a punishing winless streak in points races, and, by the way, Austin Cindric received the Daytona 500 final calendar year.

Joe Gibbs Racing was the 2nd major winner — with six — final year but did not simply click until Denny Hamlin gained at Richmond in the seventh race. Martin Truex Jr., typically quickly at Daytona, went winless past year, and Ty Gibbs is new to the Cup procedure. Christopher Bell and Hamlin will give JGR its best shots at early-year results.

Trackhouse Racing, to the surprise of several, notched three wins very last 12 months, but none came in the very first 5 months of the yr. Ross Chastain continues to be on board, having said that, so all bets are off at Daytona.

Tyler Reddick, a person of the sport’s greatest younger drivers, must increase new fireplace to 23XI Racing and could give the group a single or far more wins early. Bubba Wallace has threatened in the past at Daytona but hasn’t scored.

Most likely the most intriguing entry in the early portion of the period is returning seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who is scheduled to make his debut with Petty GMS at Daytona. Johnson, who has claimed he will operate a partial routine this year, knows the ins and outs of 500 7 days and could be a risk there. Erik Jones scored a earn last 12 months and figures to be improved, and newcomer Noah Gragson will give the group a quirky and gifted component.

Stewart-Haas Racing put only one driver — ninth-put Chase Briscoe — in the top 10 in details past 12 months but has veteran enter from Kevin Harvick and a new, keen facial area in Ryan Preece.

Despite the fact that its landscape is distinctively a one-off, the Feb. 5 Clash at the Coliseum should provide a number of hints as to which groups may well have built gains throughout the small off-year.

Past year’s Clash, won by Logano, observed only a few teams lead laps. Logano led 35 for Crew Penske, Kyle Busch was in front 64 laps to start off his closing 12 months with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Tyler Reddick foreshadowed what would be a surprisingly robust year for Richard Childress Racing with 51 laps out front.

Even though Hendrick received a few races early very last year, after 10 races the levels of competition thread had lengthened. Hendrick won 4, Joe Gibbs Racing and Trackhouse Racing two each and Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing one particular each individual.

Sooner or later, five motorists scored their initially Cup victories throughout the year, emphasizing the actuality that the new motor vehicle opened the doorway for surprises. Extra could arrive early this yr.