As 2023 begins, there are a number of NASCAR New Year’s resolutions that several drivers should keep in mind going into the new season.
The start of every year brings a desire to improve and make the new year better than the last. Many people create a list of resolutions or goals that they want to accomplish by the end of the year. The world of NASCAR is no different. There are some notable NASCAR New Year’s resolutions that drivers should keep in mind this year.
Although NASCAR drivers do not publicly share their New Year’s resolutions, the goals of some drivers can be reasonably assumed. Certain drivers may want to build off the success they found in 2022, while others may try to bury 2022 in the past and rebound in 2023.
With the NASCAR season beginning sooner than we realize, this week will go through five New Year’s resolutions for various drivers.
NASCAR New Year’s Resolution #1: Bubba Wallace & Erik Jones make the Playoffs
Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones each earned victories and were strong in 2022. Unfortunately, both of their wins came during the Playoffs, meaning that neither qualified to compete for a NASCAR championship. They were each on the Playoff bubble all season long, but will need to finally break into the Playoffs in 2023 to establish themselves as elite drivers in the Cup Series.
Unlike Wallace, Jones has made the Playoffs twice while driving the #20 for Joe Gibbs Racing from 2018 to 2020. However, Jones’ highest finish in the standings is just 15th (2018). There is reason for optimism because Jones found speed in the #43 during 2022 that had not been there in over a decade. If Jones and Petty GMS want to be seen as legitimate contenders in the NASCAR garage again, they will have to take the next step and make the Playoffs this year.
Although Jones may have more experience, Wallace is in better equipment with 23XI Racing and finally delivered on some of his potential in 2022. In addition to winning at Kansas, Bubba had career-highs in top fives (5), top tens (10), and laps led (150). He also was arguably one of the best-performing drivers in the NASCAR garage during the second half of the season, consistently having speed and earning good results.
The key for Wallace and the #23 team is to not fall behind early in the season. In 2021 and 2022, Bubba failed to perform the first few months of the year and fell way back in the standings. Despite the team rallying in the second half, the points hole proved to be to steep to climb out of. If Wallace can avoid another early season collapse and build off the speed he had down the stretch in 2022, the #23 may finally make the Playoffs in 2023.