12 NASCAR Drivers in New Places for 2023 Season
With NASCAR drivers and teams constantly searching for that magic combination that will produce a championship, racing offers an ever-changing landscape. In the motorsport community, it’s called Silly Season. However, when the new year begins, the frustration of adjusting to new car numbers from drivers and sometimes manufacturers can be frustrating. Below are the ones to keep in mind as they have also affected a few teams from the Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series.
Advertising – Continue Reading Below
1 Kyle Busch – No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
For the first time in 15 years, the Las Vegas native will not be in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 Toyota. With Mars Inc. leaving the sport and JGR unable to find a sponsor for the 37-year-old driver, Busch moves to the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet occupied last year by Tyler Reddick. It’s a return to Chevrolet for Busch, who began his Cup career with the constructor in 2007 at Hendrick Motorsports. While at JGR, Busch won two Cup championships and 56 races. Busch’s Cup teammate is Austin Dillon in number 3.
2 Tyler Reddick – #45 23XI Racing Toyota
The Corning, California driver joins 23XI Racing after a rather contentious 2022 season at Richard Childress Racing where he won three races. After signing a one-year extension with RCR, the driver signed a deal with 23XI Racing for 2024. A few months later Childress hired Kyle Busch to drive the No.8 in 2023, but said he would field a car for Reddick according to their contract.
With 23XI Racing driver Kurt Busch still recovering from a concussion and unable to commit to a full season, the team struck a deal with Childress to acquire Reddick a year early. Reddick is driving the #45 Toyota in its fourth Cup season. His teammate is Bubba Wallace in No. 23.
3 Ty Gibbs – No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Three months after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, the 20-year-old Charlotte native steps into the Toyota vacated by Kyle Busch. However, his Toyota will not wear #18. Instead, Gibbs’ Toyota will be #54, the number he drove to 11 wins in 51 Xfinity races.
Gibbs made his Cup debut last year at Pocono with a 16th-place finish while replacing an injured Kurt Busch. In 15 Cup races last year, Gibbs’ best finish was 10th at Michigan. He and Noah Gragson are the drivers competing for rookie honors in the Cup Series this year. His teammates are Denny Hamlin in No. 11, Martin Truex Jr. in No. 19 and Christopher Bell in No. 20.
4 Noah Gragson – No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet
After battling for a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship with JR Motorsports, Gragson moves to the Cup Series at Legacy Motor Club, formerly Petty GMS Motorsports. The 24-year-old Las Vegas native replaces Ty Dillon in the #42 Chevy. Team leader Luke Lambert joins Gragson on the team based in Statesville, North Carolina. Last year at JR Motorsports, the duo produced a series-best eight wins, including four straight wins that equaled a record set by legendary driver Sam Ard.
Gragson competed in 18 Cup races last year, splitting his time between Beard Motorsports and Kaulig Racing before replacing Alex Bowman at Hendrick Motorsports while Bowman recovered from a concussion. His best Cup result came at Daytona in August where he placed fifth in the Beard Motorsports Chevrolet. In four full-time Xfinity Series seasons at JR Motorsports, Gragson won 13 races and qualified for the playoffs every year. His teammate this year in the Cup Series is Erik Jones in n°43.
5 Ty Dillon – #77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
After just a year at Petty GMS Motorsports – now Legacy Motor Club – Dillon joins Corey LaJoie at Spire Motorsports. The 30-year-old North Carolina native is yet to win a Cup race, but he posted two top fives and six top 10s while driving for Germain Racing. The third-generation driver’s only top 10 finish last year came in the Bristol dirt race when he finished 10th. Dillon drives the #77 Chevrolet this year, while teammate LaJoie returns with the #7.
6 Ryan Preece – No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
The 32-year-old Berlin, Connecticut native returns full-time to the NASCAR Cup Series after an abbreviated season last year. Preece replaces Cole Custer in the #41 Ford at Stewart Haas Racing with Chad Johnston as crew chief. Custer returns full-time to the Xfinity Series where he will compete in the #00 SHR entry with Jonathan Toney as team leader. Mike Shiplett, who was Custer’s crew chief last year, has joined Richard Childress Racing where he is the NASCAR Xfinity Series competition director. Preece’s Cup teammates are Kevin Harvick in No. 4, Aric Almirola in No. 10 and Chase Briscoe in No. 14.
7 AJ Allmendinger – No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet
After two years spent focusing on NASCAR’s Xfinity Series with limited appearances in Cup competition, the 41-year-old driver returns to full-time Cup competition in 2023. Driving the #16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing , he and Justin Haley in the #31 give the operation a two-car attack in NASCAR’s premier series.
8 Jimmie Johnson – No. 84 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet
The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion returns to stock car racing as a full-time Legacy Motor Club team co-owner and part-time competitor. He is entered in the Daytona 500 at the wheel of the Chevrolet n°84. Last year’s top rookie in the Indianapolis 500, also joins veteran sportscar champion Mike Rockenfeller and former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button as a driver for the NASCAR/Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 Le Mans project .
9 John Hunter Nemechek – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series Toyota
With Kyle Busch Motorsports transferring its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series operation to Chevrolet, Nemechek moved to a full-time Xfinity Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in order to stay with Toyota. Joining him in JGR’s Xfinity lineup are Sammy Smith and Ryan Truex. Nemechek will drive No. 20 and Smith will drive No. 18, both full-time in the Xfinity Series. Truex drives a limited Xfinity program in the #19 Toyota. Nemechek, son of NASCAR champion Joe Nemechek, has two wins in the Xfinity Series. Smith competed in nine Xfinity races last year for JGR, with his best result being third at Watkins Glen.
10 Brandon Jones – #9 Chevrolet JR Motorsports Xfinity Series
After five years behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Xfinity Series car, Jones, 25, is moving to JR Motorsports to replace Noah Gragson in the #9 Chevrolet. During his tenure with JGR, the Atlanta native won five races. His teammates are Justin Allgaier at No. 7, Josh Berry at No. 8 and Sam Mayer at No. 1.
11 Hailie Deegan – No. 13 ThorSport Craftsman Truck Series Ford
With Kyle Busch Motorsports moving to Chevrolet and Toyota moving its support to TRICON Garage, formerly David Gilliland Racing, ThorSport Racing has returned to the Ford camp. That meant Deegan, one of Ford’s development drivers, moved to the Sandusky, Ohio-based team for his third full-time season in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series. She posted her best career result last year at Talladega when she placed sixth and was named the series’ Most Popular Driver for the second straight season. Deegan drives the #13 truck with teammates Matt Crafton in #88, Ben Rhodes in #99 and Ty Majeski, who is currently listed in #66.
12 Chase Purdy – #4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Craftsman Truck Series Chevrolet
The Meridian, Mississippi driver carried the Shigeaki Hattori banner last year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. This year he joins Kyle Busch Motorsports. Purdy, still looking for a series win, drives the No. 4 truck. Jack Wood has been in the No. 51 Chevy for at least 10 races. Kyle Busch and other Cup and Xfinity Series riders will share the ride with Purdy.
Advertising – Continue Reading Below