CONCORD, N.C. – The new year is here and the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series is around the corner. Teams are working to get ready for the Feb. 5 Clash at the Coliseum exhibition in Los Angeles and then the kickoff for points-paying part of the season on Feb. 19 with the DAYTONA 500.
Hendrick Motorsports is coming off a season with a series-best 11 Cup Series wins with all four drivers reaching the playoffs and advancing to the Round of 12. One of its drivers reached the Championship 4 for the third straight season. What will the organization do in 2023? Here’s a look at a key story line for each team and two organizational items to watch in NASCAR’s 75th season.
RELATED: Andrews reflects on team accomplishments in 2022 seaso
No. 5 team
Two weeks after his playoff elimination from the driver's championship, Kyle Larson won in a dominating performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway to earn the team a spot in the owner's Championship 4. He followed that up with a pole position and a runner-up finish at Martinsville Speedway and a top-10 result at Phoenix Raceway to close the year. It was arguably the strongest stretch of his 2022 campaign and potentially a sign of things to come in the new season.
"I think we’ve learned enough and we’ve had to dig deep enough to build our character to take it into next year," crew chief Cliff Daniels said after the season. "Not just for the start of the season but to really carry it all the way through the season. I’ve got a lot of faith in our team, in Kyle and all the people working on our car and going over the wall."
In 2023, Larson will look to add to his series-best 13 wins over the last two seasons and also set a new personal-best mark for most consecutive seasons with a win (three). The 30-year-old is also set to make his 300th series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March.
2022 SEASON RECAP: Kyle Larson
No. 9 team
Chase Elliott won the regular-season championship in 2022 and reached the Championship 4 for the third straight season. While the driver of the No. 9 was proud of their season with a series-best five wins, he is aiming to blend the team’s strong summer run of last year - three wins over five races from Nashville Superspeedway to Pocono Raceway - with the stronger finishes of past seasons as the Dawsonville, Georgia, native looks to reach his fourth consecutive Championship 4 in 2023.
"If you can tie those two things together – some of the strong finishes that we’ve had at over other seasons with the summer stretch we had in 2022 – I would say we’ve accomplished a lot," Elliott told HendrickMotorsports.com last month. "The good news is we’ve had both. We just need to bring them both together at one time."
Crew chief Alan Gustafson is also closing in on the most wins by an active crew chief. The Ormond Beach, Florida, native is at 38 victories atop the pit box, which is just two shy of Rodney Childers (crew chief for Kevin Harvick).
2022 SEASON RECAP: Chase Elliott
No. 24 team
For the first time in his Cup Series career, William Byron posted a multi-win season and reached the Round of 8. In 2023, it is all about taking things a bit further for the 25-year-old driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
"I think making the Championship 4 is first and foremost on the list," Byron told HendrickMotorsports.com last month regarding his 2023 goals. "Having multiple wins in the season would be another big goal and being more consistent."
Consistency was Byron’s ticket to advancement throughout the 2022 playoffs. He opened the postseason with four straight top-10 finishes and tallied six top-10s over the 10-race sprint to the finish. Consistency was also the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s calling card in 2021 when he had a personal-best 20 top-10 results.
Byron is also slated to make his 200th series start in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
2022 SEASON RECAPS: William Byron
No. 48 team
In his sixth full-time season at Hendrick Motorsports, driver Alex Bowman will have a new crew chief after being paired with Greg Ives for the entirety of his time thus far at the organization. Blake Harris joins the team after a season atop the box with driver Michael McDowell at Front Row Motorsports. Harris guided McDowell to a career-best in top-10 finishes (12) in 2022.
"It is a huge opportunity to be able to work with Alex and come into a team that is already capable of winning," Harris told HendrickMotorsports.com last month. "Just looking to be able to kind of carry on and build off of what Greg started and to continue to grow as a team."
Over the last two seasons, Bowman has the third-most wins in the Cup Series (five) – trailing only teammates Larson (13) and Elliott (seven) in that span. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has also reached the Round of 12 in all of his full-time seasons with Hendrick Motorsports.
First-year driver-crew chief pairings have hit the ground running in recent seasons and you don’t have to look any further than the Hendrick Motorsports stable to see evidence of that. Larson won four races into his partnership with Daniels in 2021, while Byron won three races into his time with Rudy Fugle in the same season.
2022 SEASON RECAP: Alex Bowman
Organizational items to watch
The all-time winningest Cup Series team sits nine wins away from 300. Over the past two seasons, the four-car organization has visited victory lane 17 times in 2021 and 11 times in 2022. In its history, Hendrick Motorsports has won at least nine races in a season on 16 different occasions. To date, 20 different drivers – including all four in the current lineup - have won a Cup Series race for the Rick Hendrick-owned organization. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon has the most wins for the team with 93.
PHOTOS: Every winner for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series
Hendrick Motorsports continues to prepare its Garage 56 entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 10-11. The entry, in collaboration with NASCAR, Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear, is awaiting its official invitation to compete in the 100th running of the event. The Hendrick Motorsports-built test car has completed tests at Virginia International Raceway, Carolina Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway in the last two months. Garage 56 was introduced in 2012 as a special single-entry-class for innovative cars.
RELATED: Johnson 'honored to 'shake down' Garage 56 test car