The championship four every year determines who will be the NASCAR Cup Series champion. Since 2014, the elimination-style format has determined who will be the champion. One race to determine the season’s champion. The system has been a hot topic amongst fans ever since the format made its debut. Usually, it is the four most consistent drivers throughout the season who will make the championship four. Who will make it to the championship four and fight for the top prize in NASCAR in 2023?
#5 Kyle Larson:
2022 was an up-and-down year for the driver nicknamed “yung money.” Larson was poised to make another championship bid in 2022 to defend his 2021 Cup Series championship. Ultimately, Larson would be eliminated in the round of eight after a costly mistake in the closing laps at the Charlotte Roval. With a win late in the season at Homestead, Larson would’ve locked himself into the championship four if he weren’t eliminated in the round of eight. Despite seven DNFs on the year, Larson would finish seventh in the final point standings with three wins. Larson finished out the 2022 season strong with an average finish of 4.0, including one win and two top-five finishes. 2023 could be a great opportunity for Larson to make a run at his second career Cup Series championship.
#8 Kyle Busch:
If Kyle Busch is known for one thing, it is that he hates finishing in second. 2022 marked the end of an era for Kyle Busch as his 15-year tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing came to an end. After two Cup Series championships and one Xfinity Series championship, many would believe that Busch would never leave Gibbs. That day ultimately came when Gibbs could not find a sponsor for Busch in 2023. Busch would find a new home for 2023 and beyond with Richard Childress Racing. 2023 will be a challenge for Busch. But he has the equipment and the capability to lead RCR to the championship four and to the possibility of winning a third championship. In the last three years, Busch has only amassed four wins in 102 races. This will be a great opportunity for Busch to bring RCR back to the top of NASCAR.
#12 Ryan Blaney:
2022 marked the first time since 2016 that Ryan Blaney did not win a point-paying race. Despite that, Blaney had a very solid 2022 season while being in the top five in points for most of the regular season. Blaney’s winless season could be due to the unknowns of the next-gen car. Throughout his Cup Series career, Blaney has made the round of eight four times but has never qualified for the championship four. This will be a great opportunity to solidify a leadership role at Penske Racing. If Blaney can make it into the 2023 championship four and possibly win the championship, he will be the third driver for Penske to win a cup championship. This will be a great opportunity for Blaney to prove that he can win a championship alongside veteran teammate and 2022 Cup Series champion, Joey Logano.
#24 William Byron:
2022 was a year that some could consider to be a career year for young William Byron. The young 24-year-old seemed to be the championship favorite early in the season. As the 2022 season progressed, that championship favorite talk around Byron slowly faded away. With that being said, Byron was able to make it further into the playoffs than ever before in his career with a spot in the round of eight. Byron would fail to make the 2022 championship four. Ever since Byron made his debut in the Cup Series in 2018, Byron has only won four races. This has fans wondering if he deserves his seat at Hendrick Motorsports. Much like Blaney, Byron must make something happen to keep his seat at Hendrick Motorsports. This motivation will drive William Byron to his first championship four appearance and to the possibility of winning his first championship in 2023.
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