Following one of the most eventful seasons in NASCAR of last decade, the 2022 Cup Series will be difficult to challenge in terms of entertainment. Nineteen different winners took the podium last year. As we’re one week shy of the new season, the Next Gen cares to prepare for their second season, and fans are ready for more storylines, the return of Jimmie Johnson and North Wilkesboro, and the first-ever Chicago Street course race.
On that note, we’re one week away from the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series opener at the Coliseum, so let’s make some early predictions for the season ahead.
A highlight of the NASCAR series isn’t just the thrilling on-track action and the of-course storylines attached to the sport. And in 2022, Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs’s racing was one of the biggest. Most believed Kyle would re-sign with JGR, but once it became apparent that contract negotiations were falling through and he signed with Richard Childress Racing, his entire season took a U-turn.
He was unfortunately eliminated in the Round of 16 of the playoffs and struggled to maintain form during this stretch. And when he was the slowest car on the tracking during the Martinsville playoff, it became apparent that both parties involved weren’t working in unison.
Last season’s performance can undoubtedly be blamed on the previous season’s drama. His numbers haven’t produced the results we’ve seen in the past, but we should expect him to come out guns blazing in 2023 and prove to their NASCAR community that he’s still in the prime of his career and his two-time Cup Series championship trophies will evolve into three.
Kevin Harvick will win in Michigan (Again) and then retire
Many NASCAR superstars have fled over the past decade, and 2023 could provide a few more.
The two biggest stars on the roster likely to retire next season include Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Yes, these two drivers remain as competitive as ever, but the signs of retirement are beginning to show.
Following an incredible 2020 tenure where he claimed nine wins, Harvick returned in 2021 to a winless season. Unfortunately, this unfortunate trend of winless races continued in 2022; however, he fought strong at the end of the season and claimed consecutive victories at Michigan and Richmond.
The 47-year-old previously hinted at retirement following the 2021 season, and although 2023 could be the year, he won’t leave the sport quietly like his 2021 season – specifically when he returns to Michigan.
We can expect the best Michigan sports betting sites to overlook Harvick when the 2023 Cup Series returns to the Michigan International Speedway in August. However, this will be the perfect race for Harvick to prove his doubters wrong, and history would suggest he’s the most clutch driver on this course.
Don’t be hesitant to take the excellent odds on Harvick, no matter how rough his early season results could be. Since 2018, Harvick has finished 2nd, 1st, 7th, 1st, 1st, 1st,14th, and 1st, at the Michigan International Speedway. He leads all active series drivers in wins at Miching with five victories in the previous five years from seven appearances.
The retirement of Truex Jr. doesn’t seem as likely as Harvick, but after missing the playoffs without a single victory in 2022, he’s undoubtedly lacking the desire he once owned. Furthermore, his longtime partner is dealing with health issues, and the JGR team is undergoing many changes that could result in his departure from the sport.
Allmendinger will be an underdog to watch
After 35 top five and 50 top ten’s from two seasons with the Xfinity Series, A.J. Allmendinger returns to the big leagues in 2023, riding the best form of his career.
He’s appeared in limited races in recent years, making a Cup Series appearance in 2021 and a handful of other races. However, he’ll return in 2023 full-time at Kaulig Racing. And after his impressive clash with Ross Chastain at the Homestead playoff race last season, where they both tailed Kyle Larson while dueling for second place, don’t be surprised if he can become a serious contender the back of his Infinity Series success.