NASCAR: Full driver lineup prediction for 2023

Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Michael McDowell, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup is nearly set following Kaulig Racing’s announcement last week, but there are still some open seats.

Last Wednesday, Kaulig Racing Fan Day solidified two more seats in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series driver lineup, as Kaulig Racing confirmed that Justin Haley is set to remain behind the wheel of the #31 Chevrolet and current Xfinity Series driver A.J. Allmendinger is set to go from part-time to full-time driver of the #16 Chevrolet.

The lineup for next year has slowly but surely come together over the last several months, but there are still a few seats without confirmed drivers.

Let’s take a look at what next year’s lineup might look like, beginning with the drivers who have actually been confirmed for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Hendrick Motorsports

  • #5 Chevrolet – Kyle Larson
  • #9 Chevrolet – Chase Elliott
  • #24 Chevrolet – William Byron
  • #48 Chevrolet – Alex Bowman

Joe Gibbs Racing

  • #11 Toyota – Denny Hamlin
  • #19 Toyota – Martin Truex Jr.
  • #20 Toyota – Christopher Bell

Kaulig Racing

  • #16 Chevrolet – A.J. Allmendinger
  • #31 Chevrolet – Justin Haley

Petty GMS Motorsports

  • #42 Chevrolet – Noah Gragson
  • #43 Chevrolet – Erik Jones

RFK Racing

  • #6 Ford – Brad Keselowski
  • #17 Ford – Chris Buescher

Richard Childress Racing

  • #3 Chevrolet – Austin Dillon
  • #8 Chevrolet – Kyle Busch

Stewart-Haas Racing

  • #4 Ford – Kevin Harvick
  • #10 Ford – Aric Almirola

Team Penske

  • #2 Ford – Austin Cindric
  • #12 Ford – Ryan Blaney
  • #22 Ford – Joey Logano

Trackhouse Racing Team

  • #1 Chevrolet – Ross Chastain
  • #99 Chevrolet – Daniel Suarez

23XI Racing

  • #23 Toyota – Bubba Wallace
  • #45 Toyota – Kurt Busch*

* = if Busch decides to return from injury

Now let’s take a look at the teams with drivers not yet formally confirmed for next year and who we think will end up in each seat.

Front Row Motorsports

  • #34 Ford – Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell has had a career year in 2022, and there is no reason for him not to be back for the Gen 7 car’s second season in 2023.

Zane Smith had been seen as a contender to potentially land a Front Row Motorsports Cup ride, but he re-signed with the organization’s Truck Series program and is in line to make select Cup starts in a third entry next year.

  • #38 Ford – Todd Gilliland

While Todd Gilliland had been the subject of replacement rumors, Smith’s new deal should probably shut those down as well. He hasn’t had the best of rookie seasons, but he has made considerable progress from the start of the year, and it is believed that the Bob Jenkins-owned team hope to have him around for the long-term future.

Front Row Motorsports have made at least one driver change every year since they entered the Cup Series in 2004, but that streak should end in 2023.

Joe Gibbs Racing

  • #18 Toyota – Ty Gibbs

With Kyle Busch off to Richard Childress Racing, it is seen as inevitable that current Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, will take over behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota. Confirmation of the move hasn’t yet been made, but it is seen as nothing more than a mere formality.

Live Fast Motorsports

  • #78 Ford – B.J. McLeod (most races)

Team co-owner B.J. McLeod has been the primary driver of the #78 Ford since Live Fast Motorsports entered the Cup Series last year, with the team calling upon others to drive the car in the road course races and in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Expect the same plan in 2023.

Rick Ware Racing

  • #15 Ford – Multiple drivers (if it returns)

With the #15 team in line for a second consecutive finish outside the top 33 in the owner standings, don’t be surprised if the charter used to run this entry is sold or loaned out for 2023. A third straight season outside the top 33 would give NASCAR the option to repossess the charter, so loaning it out for a year could be a smart move for Rick Ware Racing.

  • #51 Ford – Cody Ware

Don’t expect Rick Ware Racing to part ways with both charters. With Cody Ware being the son of team owner Rick Ware and the team’s only current full-time driver, expect him back full-time next year regardless.

Spire Motorsports

  • #7 Chevrolet – Corey LaJoie

Corey LaJoie is in his second season behind the wheel of the #7 Chevrolet, and he has never spent more than two seasons behind the wheel of one car. However, he has done enough this year to keep the #7 team’s charter out of repossession territory, and he has even contended for multiple victories for the first time in his career, doing so in both races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

  • #77 Chevrolet – Multiple drivers

While it is too early to say who will drive the second Spire Motorsports Chevrolet next year if its charter doesn’t end up elsewhere, don’t expect the team to do what Kaulig Racing did and hire a second full-time driver. If the #77 Chevrolet indeed runs in 2023, there will likely be multiple drivers behind the wheel for the fifth time in its five seasons.

Stewart-Haas Racing

  • #14 Ford – Chase Briscoe

Chase Briscoe’s contract status is simply unknown, but there is no reason to believe that anybody other than the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to make it to this year’s round of 8 will be behind the wheel of the #14 Ford in 2023.

  • #41 Ford – Cole Custer

Cole Custer is also believed to be in line to return, even though he has struggled compared to his teammates in all three of his seasons in the Cup Series. Despite poor results, the fact that he is the son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive Joe Custer should keep his seat secure for at least another year, though the #41 Ford may be one to watch.

23XI Racing

  • #TBD Toyota – Tyler Reddick

While Richard Childress Racing had said that they acquired a third charter to keep Tyler Reddick, it appears as though they have bought out his contract and he will move to 23XI Racing a year early. He had initially signed with the team for 2024.

Whether he replaces Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the #45 Toyota or joins in a third car remains to be seen, as that is largely based on Busch’s health. If the latter scenario comes to fruition, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan-owned team have acquired a third charter.

Wood Brothers Racing

  • #21 Ford – Harrison Burton

There has been nothing to indicate that Harrison Burton won’t be back for a second season behind the wheel of Wood Brothers Racing’s #21 Ford.

Next. Kurt Busch set to make NASCAR announcement. dark

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, February 19 with the 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.