One month in and the NASCAR racing season is already throwing oddities at the odds. Changes for 2023 made interesting news leading into the season. The early spotlight was bright on Jimmie Johnson who is coming back with a limited driving season. The new team, Legacy Motor Club, formerly Petty GMS Motorsports, will run Johnson’s #84 Chevy.
Johnson’s first run back in the Cup car was Daytona. The attention on Johnson was almost ceremonial as welcomes and interviews took place. The on track racing, however, took over quickly. Crashes and cautions did take a toll but it was still a bit of surprise to see Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. take the win for the small JTG Daugherty racing team.
The M&Ms characters exit from the iconic colors of the #18 Gibbs Toyota which also focused attention on the transfer of Kyle Busch to a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was an off season story. A Busch win was likely in 2023 but, perhaps, not so early on as the second race of the season. Some seat time to get used to the new team would have been expected but Busch put the #8 in Victory Lane at Auto Club.
Is it a surprise, or simply ironic, that William Byron with a Liberty University sponsor wins at Sin City? Granted, the #24 was sporting the Raptor colors for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube but Byron and Liberty have a long association. The Vegas racing dealt all the cards at Byron as he took the stages and the win.
There are also the questions concerning Chase Elliott. He took a tumble at Vail on a snowboard and is out of the #9 for a while recovering from a broken leg. How long he is out is currently set at 6 races. Josh Berry took the #9 seat at Vegas and will do so for most that Chase is out. IMSA driver Jordan Taylor is tapped to run in Texas for Circuit Of The Americas.
If the race count checks, our math has Chase Elliott back in the #9 Chevy at Martinsville. April is a big month for NASCAR in Virginia. Richmond, Bristol (Tennessee, but… yeah…) and Martinsville are on tap. Phoenix, Atlanta and Texas remain for March.
Virginia, however, does not have to wait. Good racing is coming in March. Season openers are on track from Franklin County to Dominion, from Lonesome Pine to Langley, and practically every track with a flag and a gate.
Get those short track tickets for some hot laps before those big NASCAR rigs pull into town. Racing is coming, Virginia. Your support keeps it hot.