Sixteen drivers have a chance to win the 2023 Nascar Cup Series Championship, but only one can (no ties—this isn’t the IRL). So, here’s why fifteen drivers WON’T win the championship, complete with reasons why:
Eliminated 1st: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.—he won the season-opening race and has done little-to-nothing since. Expect three sub-20th place finishes. I wonder if Brad Daugherty will break out the old giant novelty fork.
Eliminated 2nd: Michael McDowell—as great as it would be to see the longtime underdog make it out of the first round, the Front Row equipment just ain’t there. Hopefully he can hang on long enough to where the schedule is 50% road courses.
Eliminated 3rd: Joey Logano—an up-and-down season goes mostly-down in the next three races. Plus, half the field hates him.
Eliminated 4th: Bubba Wallace—we all know what’s going to happen: two bad races, then a third where he finishes top-five but is like two points away from advancing, followed by an overly-emotional post-race interview.
Eliminated 5th: Christopher Bell—C.Bell’s slump continues through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but he does remind people that Yahoo still exists, which is nice.
Eliminated 6th: Kevin Harvick—as great as it would be for him to have a Jeff Gordon-esque championship run in his final season, it won’t be meant to be. At least he can start preparing to humor Clint Bowyer.
Eliminated 7th: Kyle Larson—and here’s our first surprising early-exit. Of course these are just predictions—watch him win ten straight.
Eliminated 8th: Brad Keselowski—he falls jusssst short of advancing, thus continuing his streak of finishing behind his teammate in 2023.
Eliminated 9th: Ryan Blaney—a solid run is foiled by a simple lack of bonus points from the regular season.
Eliminated 10th: Tyler Reddick—same as Blaney, although Tyler’s dad never raced the Jasper car.
Eliminated 11th: Denny Hamlin—same as it ever was, with Hamlin falling just short. But don’t expect him to retire—he hasn’t reached Mark Martin status just yet.
Eliminated 12th: Kyle Busch—ooh so close, but he misses out on the final round by a single point. And of course it’s a reason for him to be pissy afterwards.
Eliminated 13th: William Byron—a quietly-successful playoffs unravels early in Phoenix with mechanical issues.
Eliminated 14th: Ross Chastain—a loudly-successful playoffs unravels midway at Phoenix due to a pit stop miscue.
Eliminated 15th: Martin Truex Jr.—a strangely up-and-down playoffs sees him charge through the field, but come up short late in Phoenix.
AND THE 2023 CHAMPION IS: Chris Buescher—Nascar finally gets the truly-surprising champion its always wanted on the back of wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix.
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