It’s time to drop the green flag on NASCAR’s 75th season.
Just over three months after a champion was crowned last November, it’s time for another year of racing.
Over the next 38 weeks, there will be 37 NASCAR Cup Series races – 26 regular season contests, one All-Star event and 10 playoff battles.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 season, including the schedule, driver changes, rule adjustments, future odds and more:
What happened in NASCAR last year?
The brand new Next Gen car debuted in 2022, and it represented a drastic change across the sport.
There were a record-tying 19 different race winners, including five first-time victors (Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick).
Kyle Larson, who won 10 races in 2021, found victory lane just three times last year. Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney, two regular contenders, both went winless in 2022. Chase Elliott led the series with five wins on the year, the fewest by a win leader since 2016 when Jimmie Johnson had five. To top it all off, no driver led 1,000 total laps for the first time in NASCAR’s modern era (since 1972).
While the parity was a welcome change, the Next Gen car did present some negatives. Atop the list of cons was the injury rate, which was higher than it had been in years. Three drivers – Kurt Busch (concussion, 16 races), Alex Bowman (concussion, five races) and Cody Ware (ankle, one race) – all missed time due to racing-related injuries.
The unprecedented on-track parity was a direct result of the new car, which created an unpredictable playoff run. Joey Logano, 32, won his second career championship after leading a race-high 187 laps in the Championship at Phoenix – defeating fellow title contenders Chastain, Elliott and Christopher Bell. The Team Penske driver won four races on the season to bring his career total to 31.
2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule changes
There are two huge changes to the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2023.
First is the addition of a street course race, which will be run through downtown Chicago over Fourth of July weekend. The course will be 12 turns and 2.2 miles, integrating parts of Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive and other parts of the downtown area. Chicago will replace Wisconsin’s Road America on the schedule.
The second big move for 2023 is the All-Star Race, which will be held at North Wilkesboro Speedway after Texas Motor Speedway hosted the last two years. North Wilkesboro hosted Cup races annually from 1949 until the track was shut down following the 1996 season. The legendary, 0.625-mile short track will be further renovated after the All-Star Race.
Here’s the full schedule for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series:
- Daytona 500 (Feb. 19)
- Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 26)
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5)
- Phoenix Raceway (March 12)
- Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 19)
- Circuit of the Americas (March 26)
- Richmond Raceway (April 2)
- Bristol Motor Speedway, Dirt Race (April 9)
- Martinsville Speedway (April 16)
- Talladega Superspeedway (April 23)
- Dover Motor Speedway (April 30)
- Kansas Speedway (May 7)
- Darlington Raceway, Throwback Race (May 14)
- North Wilkesboro Speedway, All-Star Race (May 21)
- Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28)
- World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (June 4)
- Sonoma Raceway (June 11)
- Nashville Superspeedway (June 25)
- Chicago Street Course (July 2)
- Atlanta Motor Speedway (July 9)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 16)
- Pocono Raceway (July 23)
- Richmond Raceway (July 30)
- Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 6)
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Grand Prix Circuit (Aug. 13)
- Watkins Glen International (Aug. 20)
- Daytona International Speedway (Aug. 26)
- Darlington Raceway (Sept. 3)
- Kansas Speedway (Sept. 10)
- Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 16)
- Texas Motor Speedway (Sept. 24)
- Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 1)
- Charlotte Motor Speedway, Road Course (Oct. 8)
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 15)
- Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 22)
- Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 29)
- Phoenix Raceway, Championship Race (Nov. 5)
NASCAR driver changes for 2023
Entering the 2023 season, there are 33 drivers confirmed to be running all 36 points-paying races and competing for the championship. Of those 33 drivers, six will be with a new team on a full-time basis in 2023: Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, A.J. Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Ty Dillon.
Reddick and Busch are the two biggest names on the move. Busch is replacing Reddick in the No. 8 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing after 15 years at Joe Gibbs Racing, while Reddick moves to 23XI Racing to drive the No. 45 Toyota for Michael Jordan’s team. Reddick is replacing Kurt Busch, Kyle’s older brother, who retired from full-time racing after battling concussions last year.
Gibbs and Gragson are the two Rookie of the Year contenders for 2023 after they battled in the second-tier Xfinity Series last year. Gibbs, 20, will race for his Super Bowl-winning grandfather Joe Gibbs in the No. 54 Toyota. Gragson, 24, takes over the No. 42 Chevy for Legacy Motor Club.
Other changes for 2023 include A.J. Allmendinger driving the No. 16 Chevy for Kaulig Racing and Ty Dillon driving the No. 77 Chevy for Spire Motorsports. Allmendinger drove the No. 16 on a part-time schedule last year while competing full-time in the Xfinity Series. Dillon was in the No. 42 last year but was replaced by Gragson.
One massive change will happen at the conclusion of this season, when Kevin Harvick retires from NASCAR. The 46-year-old driver is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, with 60 career wins and over 15,000 laps led. He won the championship in 2014, but he’s perhaps most widely known as the driver who replaced Dale Earnhardt after he died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.
Who is Jimmie Johnson driving for in 2023?
Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will drive the No. 84 Chevy for Legacy Motor Club on a part-time basis, starting with the Daytona 500.
Johnson, 47, retired from NASCAR after the 2020 but spent the last two years racing in the IndyCar Series. Now, he’s back to the Cup Series after becoming a part-owner of Legacy M.C. The team was previously known as Petty GMS Racing, but was rebranded for 2023. Fellow seven-time champion Richard Petty is an ambassador for the organization.
Beyond Daytona, the rest of Johnson’s schedule for 2023 is to be determined. He will drive in the Chicago Street Race and hopes to run between five and 10 races throughout the year.
New NASCAR rule changes for 2023
Prior to the start of the season, there were several Cup Series rule changes announced:
- There will be no caution flags between stages at road courses.
- The “Hail Melon” move used by Ross Chastain at Martinsville last year is outlawed.
- Wet-weather equipment can now be used at road courses and several short tracks.
- The “top 30 in points” rule for playoff eligibility has been removed.
- The “choose rule” will be added for superspeedways and dirt-tracks.
A full breakdown of the rule changes can be found here.
NASCAR 2023 paint schemes
As usual, the new season will deliver a fresh batch of paint schemes. Here are some of the new looks:
Future odds for NASCAR in 2023
Elliott and Larson – the 2020 and 2021 champions, respectively – enter 2023 as the favorites to win the title. Here are the full odds to win the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship before the season begins in Daytona, according to our partner, PointsBet:
- Chase Elliott, +600
- Kyle Larson, +600
- Denny Hamlin, +800
- Tyler Reddick, +800
- Joey Logano, +1000
- Ross Chastain, +1000
- William Byron, +1000
- Ryan Blaney, +1000
- Martin Truex Jr., +1000
- Christopher Bell, +1200
- Kyle Busch, +1200
- Kevin Harvick, +1600
- Alex Bowman, +2500
- Chase Briscoe, +3300
- Bubba Wallace, +4000
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.