NASCAR: 3 drivers who should already start to panic

Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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Through two races, it can be tough to assess where drivers stand. But three drivers from last year’s NASCAR Cup Series playoffs should already start to panic.

Two races into the 26-race 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season, hardly anybody is thinking playoffs. Even the season’s two winners haven’t officially clinched playoff spots yet.

But every race and every point counts, and several of last year’s contenders have had rough starts to the new campaign.

There are new drivers in the playoffs every year, meaning that several drivers who made it in the previous year end up failing to qualify. Here are three drivers who could already be at risk of seeing that happen in 2023.

NASCAR drivers who should be in panic mode: No. 1 – Tyler Reddick

Tyler Reddick has just four points in two races to start his tenure with 23XI Racing. The better of his two results is a 34th place DNF at Auto Club Speedway.

It’s easy to write it off as “new team” and “new manufacturer”, as the announcers tried to do during Sunday afternoon’s race at Auto Club Speedway. But that becomes just a tad bit ironic as everyone watches Kyle Busch take Richard Childress Racing to victory lane in just his second start with the team — and in Reddick’s old No. 8 Chevrolet, no less.

We also can’t ignore the fact that 23XI Racing is still an up-and-coming team. Sure, they won races in both 2021 and 2022. But in 2021, their victory came in a rain-shortened event, and last year, both of their wins came at the same track, a track where they — and Toyota as a whole — were the dominant team both times.

They’re often compared to Trackhouse Racing Team because of when they entered the sport, but Trackhouse Racing Team have had a clear edge since acquiring Chip Ganassi Racing ahead of last year. 23XI Racing started from scratch, and even a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing doesn’t guarantee success, especially with Joe Gibbs Racing still trying to figure things out themselves.

Is this really an upgrade for a driver who won three times last year?