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2023 NASCAR Cup Series Mock Season

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Hey everyone, this is where I'll be hosting my 2023 mock season using my recently released 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Fantasy Silly Season carset for MENCS19. Before I begin the season, there are some important things to list.

First, the points system: This mock season will use a custom points system I developed as an alternative to NASCAR's current points system. It comes in 3 parts:
  1. No Playoffs: This points format is a Winston Cup style full-season format. No points resets, no Chase for the Cup, no Playoffs, just 36 races and whoever ends the season with the most points is the champion. Position points are handed out in the same format as NASCAR uses now (40 points to 1st, 35 to 2nd, 34 to 3rd, etc.)
  2. Stages: Stages are kept under this format with the same points model as they use in real NASCAR now (10 points for first, 1 point for 10th). The only difference is that, except for select exhibition races, there are no stage cautions; the race will stay green and the running order at each stage end is recorded for points calculations.
  3. Bonus Points: Bonus points return under this format. A driver can earn bonus points in the following ways:
    • Leading a lap (5 points)
    • Leading the most laps (5 points)
    • Winning a stage (5 points, this means 15 total points per stage win)
    • Top 10 finish (5 points)
    • Top 5 finish (10 points, this means top 5 finishers get 15 total points due to the top 10 bonus points being added onto the top 5 bonus points)
    • Winning a race (15 points)
Next, the schedule: This mock season also uses a custom schedule I developed
Schedule.png

Finally, the team chart: Here are the teams that will be racing in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series
Team Chart.png

Of course, these races take time being 100% distance races as well as all the graphics I am using to accompany this mock season take time to set up, so please be patient if there happens to be a long break between races.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this season and I wish your favorite drivers luck!
 

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Busch Clash Pre-Race Info
Race Info:
32 laps/80 miles
Competition caution lap 16
No points exhibition race
Night
2022 winner: William Byron
Clash Eligible Drivers.png

Busch Clash Starting Lineup.png
 
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Busch Clash at Daytona
The Busch Clash, as always, marks the dawn of a new season for the NASCAR Cup Series. It sets the stage and the tone for the rest of the Daytona Speedweeks and what a tone it set. Despite a lack of incidents (Matt DiBenedetto lost a camshaft on lap 2, making him the only DNF of the race), the race was exciting from start to finish. The field traded the lead constantly and raced 3-wide throughout the whole field. The race was so competitive, in fact, 13 of the 19 drivers in the race led at least one lap and the most laps led by a single driver was the 8 total laps Daniel Suarez spent out front.

But in the end, it came down to 3 Chevrolet drivers on the final lap. Alex Bowman led at the white flag just barely over Tyler Reddick. The two pseudo-teammates spent the entire lap side by side, neither of them gaining a sizable advantage. Then, off the final corner, sophomore Kyle Benjamin in his first Busch Clash made a daring move under Reddick. They remained three-wide to the checkered flag where Tyler Reddick would edge out Alex Bowman by 0.01 seconds to win the 2023 edition of the Busch Clash in thrilling fashion. All 18 drivers running at the finish finished the race within 0.9 seconds of the race leader, a fitting finish to an extremely competitive race.
NR2003 2020-06-05 16-19-44 JPG.jpg

Busch Clash Winner.png

Race Results.png
 

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Daytona 500 Qualifying
Screenshot (66).png
Daytona 500 Qualifying Results:
Daytona 500 Qualifying Results.jpg

Pole Winner.png

Daytona 500 Front Row.jpg
 

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Duels at Daytona Pre-Race Info
Race Info:
2 races
48 laps/120 miles each
No stages
Points distributed at conclusion of each race in stage model (10 points for 1st, 1 point for 10th)
Bonus points do not apply
Night
2022 winners: Ty Dillon, Landon Cassill
Duel #1 Starting Lineup.png

Duel #2 Starting Lineup.png
 
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Duel #1
The first of the two qualifying races was also the cleanest. Daytona 500 pole sitter Daniel Suarez led the inside line qualifiers to the green flag. Once the green dropped, the lead changed hands almost constantly much like was seen in The Clash.

No one lost the draft by the time drivers had to make their one pit stop of the night with just over 10 laps to go. Those green flag pit stops split the field into multiple packs and ended the Daytona 500 dreams of a few drivers. The lead pack, made of 15 drivers, barreled around the track at 200+ MPH as they fought for the Duel win and to make the big event. On the final lap, Ryan Preece made his move on Noah Gragson and Christopher Bell to take the lead. The SHR #14 would cross the finish line first and win, the exact opposite result from last year's Duel race where Preece would finish last and miss the Daytona 500.

The win would lock Preece into the 500 as he hadn't locked in on speed. Natalie Decker, with her 6th place finish, was also safe. The final transfer spot would come down to 3 powerhouse Fords; two of Preece's SHR teammates in Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr and the part-time Penske #02 driven by Gray Gaulding, who was looking for his first career start in The Great American Race. They were 3 wide coming to the line, but Gaulding had the momentum on the inside line. By about a car length over Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse, Gray Gaulding took the final transfer spot in the big race. This means that two big contenders in Ricky Stenhouse and Kyle Larson will not race in the Daytona 500.
Duel #1 Winner.png

Duel #1 Race Results 1-20.png

Duel #1 Race Results 21-26.png

Screenshot (57) JPG.jpg

Screenshot (58) JPG.jpg

The view of the race for the final transfer spot between Gray Gaulding (#02), Kyle Larson (#10), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr (#4)
 

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Duel #2
The second of the Daytona 500 qualifying races looked much like the first. The field of outside line qualifiers lined up and took the green flag with Kyle Busch leading. The lead would be swapped constantly and the Daytona 500 transfer spots were highly contested.

Just like Duel #1, the race would stay clean and the pack would stay together at the beginning of pit stops. But unlike the first duel race, an incident slowed the field.
Screenshot (64) JPG.jpg

It started when defending series champion Chase Elliott was making his way out of the pits after his green flag stop. As he merged onto the track, Chris Buescher was left with nowhere to go as he raced with the cars that had yet to pit. He slammed into the back of the #9 car and the two went spinning into the outside wall. They would both continue, but the damage meant they were well off race pace and they were stuck a lap down due to repairs. With this crash, Chris Buescher's hopes of making the Daytona 500 were over, a huge blow to what is believed to be a championship contender after an incredible 2022 season. This also meant that neither of the JTG Daugherty Racing cars would be competing in the big race. Going into 2023, the JTG drivers of Chris Buescher and 2022's standout rookie Kyle Benjamin look to be championship contenders after the powerful statement they made last season. If they are to be championship contenders, they have a massive hurdle to jump over.

This crash also dashed the hopes of another open driver, Austin Dillon. He and John Hunter Nemechek were trapped a lap down when the caution was displayed. Thus, the RCR #3 would not make the 2023 Daytona 500.

The race would be restarted with less than 10 laps to go with pole sitter Kyle Busch the race leader. Much like the first 40 laps of the race, the lead would change numerous times, but the battle everyone was paying attention was the battle for the final transfer spot. Due to the slow car of Chase Elliott, the field got split apart on the restart. Part of the field that was falling back included open drivers Bubba Wallace, embarking on his first season with Hendrick, Ryan Sieg, and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Earnhardt would not recover and finish 6 seconds behind the lead pack. Bubba and Ryan were able to hook onto the draft of the lead pack and catch back up but, thanks to the slow start, had very little time to make up the gap and battle for the transfer spot. With as little as 5 laps to go, it looked like Erik Jones, Garrett Smithley, and Jesse Little had the 3 transfer spots under wraps. But with only a few laps to go, Wallace Jr and Sieg were able to clamber back into the lead pack and move their way forward. Erik Jones and Garrett Smithley were battling for the race lead, so the final transfer spot came down to Little, Wallace, and Sieg.

The field took the white flag with Erik Jones ahead, but soon after the flag waved Kaz Grala made his move. Seeking his first win in a Cup car, Grala dove to the inside of Erik Jones for the lead heading into turn 1. The two battled side by side, but the inside line prevailed as it had all night. Jones would settle into second with Smithley behind him. Jones never got a run and Kaz Grala went on to win Duel #2.

Behind them, the battle for the final transfer spot persisted. By the last lap, Bubba Wallace had made his way into the top 10 in the running order while Jesse Little and Ryan Sieg both got caught in the outside lines. That's all Wallace needed and he cruised to a 9th place finish to secure the final transfer spot.
Duel #2 Winner.png

Screenshot (65) JPG.jpg

Duel #2 Race Results 1-20.png

Duel #2 Race Results 21-26.png
 

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Daytona 500 Pre-Race Info
Race Info:
200 laps/500 miles
Stage laps: 65/130/200
Season opener/first points race
Day
2022 winner: Austin Theriault
Daytona 500 DNQs.png
Daytona 500 Starting Lineup.png
 
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Daytona 500 - Stage 1
The green flag waved on the Daytona 500 and the 2023 season was officially underway. The beginning of the race was quiet, with the lead being exchanged consistently between numerous cars. The pack was able to stay together and nobody lost the draft by the time green flag pit stops rolled around near lap 40. However, that's where issues would start.

Ben Rhodes, making his first Daytona 500 start, was merging onto the track after his pit stop when Brett Moffitt ran into him entering turn 3. It wasn't hard contact, but it was enough to send Ben Rhodes for an innocent spin on the apron to bring out the first caution of the day just after lap 40. No other cars would be involved.
Screenshot (80) JPG.jpg

However, we were not out of the woods yet. As Brett Moffitt came around to get the caution flag, he would make contact with another Kurt Busch Inc. driver in the form of defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Theriault. Moffitt would spin up the track in the tri-oval and Theriault would attempt to save his car. Theriault would keep it under control despite going down the hill and making contact with his pseudo-teammate Cole Custer and both would drive away from the scene.

However, Moffitt was a sitting duck in the middle of the racing surface just past the start-finish line. The #23 would be collected hard multiple times, sparking a multi-car incident on the approach to turn 1. This accident would take out some serious contenders in Matt DiBenedetto, Justin Allgaier, and Ryan Preece. Some underdog competitors were involved as well like Christian Eckes and Ty Majeski. Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, and Daniel Suarez also got some mild contact but would get away relatively unscathed. Alex Labbe and Dillon Bassett would be able to weave their way through the carnage. And after surviving an innocent spin, Ben Rhodes came around and got involved in the melee as well.
Screenshot (82) JPG.jpg

After the cleanup, the race was restarted just over 10 laps away from the end of the first stage. The field would keep it clean and Aric Almirola would take home the first stage win of the 2023 season.
Stage 1 Winner.png
Stage 1 Results.png
 

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Daytona 500 - Stage 2
Stage 2 would almost directly emulate Stage 1. The field would keep it clean and swap the lead up until green flag pit stops started. During green flag stops, one incident occurred but did not bring out a caution. William Byron was trapped on the outside line trying to get to pit road and moved down across the track coming out of turn 4. But, the #02 of Gray Gaulding was there and Byron was turned across Gaulding's nose. Both cars received minimal damage and no one else got involved.
Screenshot (83) JPG.jpg

Green flag pit stops ended with 10 laps to go in the stage. The field was spread out into a few small packs of cars. The lead pack of cars battled for the stage win. But, Stage 2 would end up finishing under caution. Only 2 laps before the field took the green and white checkered flag, pole sitter Daniel Suarez would make contact with Alex Labbe in the tri-oval. The incident was almost an exact reenactment of the incident with Moffitt and Theriault earlier. Suarez would slide up the track and back the car into the SAFER barrier. No one else would be collected. The caution flag would fly once again and end the stage under yellow.
Screenshot (84) JPG.jpg

As the field paced to the end of the stage. Two Hendrick cars played some strategy. Chase Elliott and William Byron would pit from 9th and 10th respectively, giving up stage points to ensure they could make it to the end of the race on only 1 more pit stop.

John Hunter Nemechek would take the green-white checkered flag to win Stage 2 after barely beating Aric Almirola to the caution flag.
Stage 2 Winner.png
Stage 2 Results.png
 

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Daytona 500 - Final Stage
The final stage went green with less than 70 laps left in the race. It once again started with a long green flag run, lasting until the final pit stops of the day. But this is where a wrench would be thrown into the gears.

In the middle of green flag stops, the caution would fly. Landon Cassill, Todd Gilliland, and Tyler Reddick would get tied up in turn 3. Cassill and Reddick would get serious damage while Gilliland got away a lot cleaner.
Screenshot (85) JPG.jpg

But with the caution coming out in the middle of pit stops, this meant that numerous cars were stuck a lap down. This included heavy hitters like Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace and more. When it all cycled out behind the pace car, 7 cars were left on the lead lap with a line of cars left on the tail end of the lead lap.

The field took the green with around 30 laps to go. 7 cars battled it out for the win in the middle of a pack of lapped cars. The complexion of the race changed multiple times as the 7 lead lap cars swapped the lead. One lap it was Ryan Truex, the next it was Martin Truex Jr, then it was Erik Jones, etc. As the field closed in on the checkered flag, Aric Almirola looked to be in the best spot. He was leading and moved through the pack of lapped cars while everyone else was stuck in the middle of the pack.

But that changed. As Almirola came to take the white flag, he was put 3 wide by lappers. His teammate Martin Truex Jr suffered the same fate behind him. This allowed Chase Elliott to follow the lapped cars on the inside line past Almirola. The close quarters racing prevented any other lead lap cars from making a move. Defending series champion Chase Elliott would take the checkered flag and begin his title defense with his first victory in The Great American Race.
Screenshot (86) JPG.jpg
Race Winner.png

Race Results 1-20.png

Race Results 21-42.png
 

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Las Vegas Pre-Race Info:
Race Info:
267 laps/400 miles
Stage laps: 80/160/267
West Coast Swing race #1
Day
2022 winner: Noah Gragson
Pole Winner.png
Starting Lineup.png
 
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Las Vegas - Stage 1
Stage 1 started off with some fantastic racing. 3 wide battles took place immediately after the green flag with comers and goers all over the place. Despite the high-energy racing, Stage 1 went caution free. In fact, the only incident took place within the first couple of laps. Martin Truex Jr got put 3 wide in turn 3 and the car beneath him, Christopher Bell, slid up the track into his door. Truex went up near the wall and had to check up. Behind him, Erik Jones had a full head of steam as he accelerated off of the corner and couldn't check up in time. Jones clipped the elder Truex in the left rear, sending him for a wild ride through the frontstretch grass. The 2017 champ showed off his driving ability by keeping the car straight and not coming back up on the track into traffic. Truex would have to reset and start moving forward from last place, but the former champion had an extremely fast race car and began making quick work of the cars near the rear of the field and, with the whole race left, he had plenty of time.

After that close call, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the stage. Pole sitter Alex Bowman lost the lead to Landon Cassill on the first lap of the race. Cassill enjoyed some time up front when the next challenger came knocking on his rear bumper. All the way from a 9th place starting position was Cole Custer. He was able to snag the lead and keep it for a long while.

Cole showed that he had the best car at the early stages of the race later on when his teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr challenged for the lead. Custer lost the lead to the 4 car and proceeded to lose several positions to the cars behind. Not to be flustered, however, Cole put his head down and drove hard and within just 10 laps had driven back to the race lead past Stenhouse.

As always, green flag pit stops mixed up the running order. Numerous strategy plays were made when the pit window opened. The one that would work out best was the play made by the 42 team and Ross Chastain. The 42 was the first car to come down pit road almost 2 laps before anyone else. Chastain cruised on the fresh tires and wound up with the lead near the end of the stage when pit stops cycled through. Chastain would maintain a 2 second gap back to 2nd place Ryan Blaney to win his first stage of the year.
Stage 1 Winner.png
Stage 1 Results.png
 

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Las Vegas - Stage 2
Stage 2 is when things got crazy. Not long after the second pit stop cycle of the day we had our first caution. Kyle Busch and his rookie teammate Harrison Burton, making his first ever Cup Series start, made contact heading into turn 3. The two turned towards the outside wall where Justin Allgaier was swept up in the melee. No one else would be involved. The wreck essentially ended the days of Allgaier and Busch though they continued. Burton got away with minimal damage.
Screenshot (89) JPG.jpg
This wreck opened the gates of Hell. Under the ensuing caution, a chain reaction crash severely damaged multiple competitors such as Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, and Austin Theriault. The restart would be much of the same.

On the restart, drivers immediately went 3 wide as they attempted to get around slower traffic. Due to the timing of the caution, only 4 cars were left on the lead lap: Bubba Wallace, Brad Keselowski, Ty Dillon, and Austin Theriault. The rest of the field were either a lap down or ahead of the leaders on the edge of the lead lap. But in the middle of the pack, the 3 wide racing caused chaos. Ben Rhodes, William Byron, and Erik Jones made contact coming off of turn 2. The ensuing big crash involved multiple high-profile drivers. Remarkably, the 4 leaders were able to weave through the carnage and survive as the rest of the field drove off to take the caution flag and keep themselves on the lead lap.

Screenshot (90) JPG.jpg

Race leaders Brad Keselowski (Autotrader #2), Ty Dillon (GEICO Military #13) and Bubba Wallace (KBB #48) can be seen weaving through the melee

After the chaos, the rest of Stage 2 would stay clean. In the end, sophomore Chase Briscoe took home his first stage win of the year.
Stage 2 Winner.png
Stage 2 Results.png
 

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Las Vegas - Final Stage
The final stage at Las Vegas was not without its action. Battles throughout the field took place, and pit stops continued to mix up the running order and bring new players into the game. And, of course, this race wouldn't end without more yellows.

The first incident came soon after the conclusion of Stage 2. Kyle Busch, having already been damaged in the first caution, was off the pace and got quickly caught by Ty Majeski heading into turn 1. The two would make contact and the 18 would spin into the outside wall. Majeski made contact with the wall but, impressively, kept the car straight. Busch would continue and finish the race 5 laps behind the leaders.
Screenshot (91) JPG.jpg
The final incident of the day came with around 40 laps to go. Cole Custer and Ryan Truex were involved in a 3 wide battle when, off of turn 4, Custer ran Truex out of room and into the wall. Both cars pounded the SAFER barrier and spun in front of traffic. Kyle Larson, Ty Majeski, and Landon Cassill would be collected to bring out the final caution of the race.
Screenshot (92) JPG.jpg
This mixed up the running order once again. The final 30 laps of the race saw multiple drivers lead including Daytona 500 champion Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola, but the final lead change occurred when John Hunter Nemechek found his way past Almirola. Nemechek would never relinquish the lead, running away to win by 6.5 seconds over teammate Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr. Much like his form in 2022, JHN took advantage of strategy and a chaotic race to snag the checkered flag.
Race Winner.png
Race Results 1-20.png

Race Results 21-42.png
 
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