Chase Elliott wins NMPA Most Popular Driver award


Nashville, Tenn. Weight of season undecided where to race in 2023 and its impact on the Truck Series team is off Kyle Busch.

This season, Richard Childress is back in contention for the two-time Cup title as he looks to revive his racing career.

Busch completed his final stint representing Joe Gibbs Racing at Thursday’s NASCAR Awards and now aims to help RCR win its first Cup championship since 1994.

MORE: The red carpet at the NASCAR Awards

Busch will compete with Richard Childress this weekend in a World Racing League endurance event at the Circuit of the Americas. Busch said the team converted an old Cup car into an endurance car for the event. Last year, RCR won the eight-hour endurance race there Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Kaz Grala.

Busch is looking for more luck at RCR than Joe Gibbs recently had in the race.

He’s won one Cup in his last 53 starts, a span that includes 14 more race wins than Busch, dating back to July 2021 at Road America.

His 17 top-10 finishes last season were his fewest since 2015 when he posted 16 top-10s.

He has finished in 29 of 36 points, the first time since 2015 that he has finished in fewer than 30 races. Two engines failed in the first round of the playoffs, resulting in a failure to qualify for the second round for the first time in his career.

“Obviously it’s been tough lately, not this year,” Bush said Thursday at Music City Center. “So, it can be a new beginning, a time to do something new, a time to do something different, and honestly, it can be a blessing.”

He looks to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for inspiration.

Brady previously won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots Joined Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.

Before joining the Denver Broncos, Manning won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts and won a Super Bowl there in his final NFL season.

“I see it as a great start, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, they left great teams, won championships and won championships somewhere else,” Bush said. “I’d like to think it’s still possible at RCR.

“I see the opportunity to have a new Next Gen race car as an easier step to make now versus previous years.”

He said that with previous generations of cars, NASCAR didn’t regulate the cars as much, so there was more division between the teams. For Next Gen cars, the teams share the same parts. Two-time champion of the Cup Joey Logano His team has a lot to learn about cars and tuning.

Even with his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing over, Busch said he doesn’t go to RCR with a chip on his shoulder.

“I don’t think I have anything to prove or a chip on my shoulder,” Bush said. “I just want to go out there and run well again. … We felt like we had a lot of strong runs this year. There were six races that we could count, would have won, would have won, were not whipped.

“I’ve got to go back because we’ve been so good at giving them away, I’m so good at stealing them and making money.”

2. Special Delivery

One of the perks of being a Cup Champion is getting a Champion Magazine. Jimmie Johnson started the tradition after winning the 2010 championship. The magazine’s existence remained a mystery until 2017 When Johnson posted a photo of her handing out the magazine on social media Martin Truex Jr.

The note is passed down from champion to champion, with the current champion holding it for a year, adding a note to the next champion and handing it to them. Logano will receive the magazine Kyle Larson.

“I can’t wait to read it again,” Logano said before Thursday’s NASCAR Awards. “I’m telling you, it’s probably one of the coolest things. Jimmy deserves all the credit for coming up with this idea.

“I want to start early. It’s very interesting. Some drivers are very specific about what they’re going to write for their next champion, while others are quick and simple. It’s very interesting to read. It’s cool. It’s a real secret. It’s like an unwritten rule, a picture. Don’t take it and post it.It’s something only champion drivers know, read and see.

“I get so nervous every time I get it. I think don’t spill anything on this thing, don’t miss it. It would be ugly to be the guy who lost it. It will be bad. I’m putting it right in the safe.”

Logano won his first Cup title in 2018. He then presented the magazine to 2019 series champion Kyle Busch.

“It’s something you put a lot of thought into, at least I did,” Logano said of his writing. “I wrote a letter to Kyle. You’ve put a lot of thought into it. It’s something that’s going to be there as long as our sport is around. At least I hope it is. It’s a great tradition.”

3. Fun factor

Last year’s NASCAR Awards Day. William Byron He said he wants to compete in more races outside of NASCAR in 2022.

Byron, Sunday’s prestigious Snowball Derby seeks to make the Super Late Model raceaccomplishing goals, winning, and gaining confidence while having fun.

“What I got out of it was immediate fun and a kind of relief,” Byron said of racing in various Super Late Model races this year. “It’s not racing against a trophy car. It was different. Working with the crew wasn’t too stressful because there wasn’t much going on. There’s still prize money and stuff, and honestly, you’re here to have fun. I liked it.

“When I got into it, I realized how effective it was for me and how much I was learning. By doing it more often throughout the season, I learned little nuances that helped me come back with better skills in a Cup car.”

This playful element was evident in Byron. Cup racing is fraught with the pressure of multi-million dollar sponsors, the expectation of winning, and everyone in the shop counting on the car’s performance. That’s a lot of pressure on top of the pressure any driver puts on themselves.

“You’re providing a lot of guys and trying to do a good job,” Byron said of the Cup run. “It has weight. You want to perform for the guys who work non-stop in the store. A wider net for your driver. Every time you go to the short track level, you and 6-10 other guys are working on the car. … Being the No. 1 motorsport in the United States, there’s a natural pressure on what we’re trying to do at the Cup level.”

4. Looking for a car

Ross Chastain He said he’s been “trying for years” to ride in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, but hasn’t been successful.

“I met with the president of IMSA,” said Chastain, who trailed Joey Logano for the Cup title this season. “I met the team owners. I talked to the drivers. I still can’t find my way in. Haven’t found the right person yet to tell me how to do it or give me a chance. I can come as a sponsor and get a ride, but how do I get in as a race car driver? I haven’t found that place yet.”

Chastain said she’s dealt with some people this season without any luck.

The prestige of the season-opening IMSA event (Jan. 28-29, 2023) appeals to him, but he says he wants to gain more experience racing on the road despite winning the Americas circuit last season. And Chastain doesn’t choose the type of ride she wants to race.

“I don’t even want to go to the top. I’d like to find a mid-level Rolex Xfinity team, run there, get some experience, and then just be around racers who do it year-round. I know I can learn something. … I just want to race.”

5. Indy 500-Coke 600 floors

Eight years have passed since then Kurt Bush That same day, he competed in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, his most recent feat.

Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are among those who have expressed a desire to hold the two races on the same day, but it appears unlikely in 2023 due to IndyCar’s limited car pool.

IndyCar Series owner Roger Penske says he can only see Jimmie Johnson this year and the others next year.

“It’s about having cars and manufacturers, whether it’s Chevy or Honda,” Penske said of the IndyCar manufacturers. “Everybody’s going to be interested to see somebody run double-doubles. Maybe Jimmy’s going to do it. It’s going to be amazing.

“He’s experienced. He’s done a great job on the oval. … I understand he might run the 600 as one of his races (with Petty GMS). We’ll see.”



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