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2023 NASCAR Cup Series Mock Season

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Phoenix Pre-Race Info:
Race Info:
312 laps/312 miles
Stage laps: 75/190/312
West Coast Swing race #2
Day
2022 winners: Brett Moffitt (spring), Chase Elliott (fall, season finale)
Loses fall race date in 2023
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Phoenix - Stage 1
Just like the last race at Las Vegas, Stage 1 went flag-to-flag without incident. As soon as the green flag dropped, pole sitter and points leader Aric Almirola would jump to the lead. Despite numerous challenges from Daniel Suarez, Almirola held on to win the first stage of the race.
Stage 1 Winner.png

Stage 1 Results.png
 

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Phoenix - Stage 2
Stage 2 would end up being the most action packed part of the race. It started early during green flag pit stops.

As cars got serviced and drivers cycled through, the first caution of the day would occur in turn 3. Tyler Reddick would slide up entering the corner into the #1 of Justin Allgaier. Allgaier would go spinning and back the car hard into the outside wall. Allgaier has not been able to avoid trouble so far in 2023; in all 3 races, Allgaier has been involved in an accident and is yet to finish in the top 30 this year.
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The field would take the green flag with Bubba Wallace the leader of a now mixed up running order. The #48 car would run away on the short run, leading the next 53 laps of the race. But as the run went on, Bubba's car began to fall off and he would eventually lose the lead to Hendrick teammate William Byron then quickly fall to 3rd behind Martin Truex Jr. Battles inside the top 10 continued on until the next batch of green flag stops started with about 20 to go in the stage. That's when trouble struck once again.

While exiting the pits, William Byron made contact with Matt DiBenedetto heading into turn 3. The #95 WRL Toyota would spin up the track, collecting Bubba Wallace in the process. The two would slam into the outside wall hard and rebound down the banking slightly where Daniel Suarez, with absolutely nowhere to go, slammed into the #48.
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The carnage didn't stop there, however. As the #19 slid sideways in the racing groove, his teammate Christopher Bell was unable to avoid him. The #11 slammed into the passenger side of Suarez's Toyota, sending him up and over. The car would roll twice before landing back on its wheels.
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This caution would shake up the field much more than the previous. Not only were there only around 10 laps left in the stage, but about half the field was trapped on the tail end of the lead lap. Another Hendrick car in Alex Bowman would inherit the lead. He would hold off Kyle Busch to win the second stage of the race.
Stage 2 Winner.png

Stage 2 Results.png
 

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Phoenix - Final Stage
After the destruction witnessed in Stage 2, the final stage of the race mimicked the first; it would go caution free, the race being decided during the final green flag pit stops with around 50 laps to go.

After holding off Kyle Busch for many laps, Bowman finally lost the lead to the two-time champion of the Cup Series. Looking to end the longest winless drought of his career, dating back to 2021, Kyle looked to be cruising to a victory. But, another Kyle would end up stealing the show. After strategy put Kyle Benjamin in 3rd at the conclusion of the second stage, his crew chief looked to once again outsmart the competitors.

The final stops of the day occurred with around 50 laps to go. The #47 Camaro was one of the first cars down pit road, giving up 3rd place while only about 2 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch. But, the short pit strategy worked and Benjamin leapfrogged to the lead once the field cycled through.

The standout rookie from 2022 was looking to get his sophomore season back on track after missing the Daytona 500 earlier in the season. Staring his 2nd career win in the face, Benjamin first had to hold off one of the best in Kyle Busch to earn it. And Benjamin did just that. Despite Busch having the slightly faster car and only a 1.5 second deficit to make up, Benjamin weaved his way through lap traffic perfectly while Busch struggled.

Kyle Benjamin would take the checkered flag, the second triumph of his career and first of his young sophomore season. Kyle Busch will have to wait to end his long winless streak.
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2023 News:

Two teams to run special tribute paint schemes in upcoming races
NASCAR is a sport of history and tradition and two of the sport's historic teams will be celebrating that history in upcoming races.

The first is Team Penske Racing, who will be celebrating the golden 50th anniversary of the team's first win in NASCAR. In 1973, Mark Donohue drove the #16 AMC Matador (dubbed the "flying brick") to the win in the season opener at Riverside. This victory was the first for Mark Donohue and Team Penske in NASCAR. Now, 50 years later Penske will celebrate that first victory with special golden paint schemes for the 3 drivers entered into the event at Sonoma Raceway.
Penske Tribute 1.jpg

Penske Tribute 5.jpg
The three Penske drivers will sport a special decal to commemorate the late Mark Donohue's victory as well.
Team Penske First Win Decal.png
Sonoma Raceway is the 5th race of the 2023 season and the final leg of the West Coast Swing.

Hendrick Motorsports will be celebrating its greatest driver and first superstar at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 2023 is the 30th anniversary of Jeff Gordon's rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series. To honor Jeff, all five Hendrick drivers will sport a paint scheme Jeff drove during his career. From the iconic Rainbow Warriors scheme to the infamous T-Rex car, five recognizable schemes will hit the track at Atlanta, the site of Jeff's first Cup start.
Hendrick Gordon Tribute 4.jpg

Hendrick Gordon Tribute 5.jpg
Atlanta Motor Speedway plays host to round #6 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron is the defending winner of the race, having earned his first of 4 wins in 2022 at the 1.5 mile speedway.
 

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Auto Club Pre-Race Info:
Race Info:
200 laps/400 miles
Stage laps: 60/120/200
West Coast Swing race #3
Night
2022 winner: Cole Custer
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Auto Club - Stages 1 & 2
If you like crashes, then this race is not your style. Despite constant 3, 4, even 5 wide pack-esque racing and green flag stops the field kept it clean through the first two stages.

Stage 1: At the drop of the green flag, Penske driver Joey Logano showed his strength. With a strong pass on pole sitter Martin Truex Jr, Logano led all the way until green flag stops. He would lose the lead once everyone cycled out of pit road, but only for a few laps as he would drive up and take it back to win Stage 1.
Stage 1 Winner.png

Stage 1 Results.png

Stage 2: The second stage of the race would see the other dominant car of the evening, Ross Chastain, take control. After two green flag stops during the stage, Chastain would hang on to the lead to win Stage 2 at Auto Club.
Stage 2 Winner.png

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Auto Club - Final Stage
The final stage is where the race would get mixed up. It stayed green until soon after the end of Stage 2 where a yellow would occur for debris. Then, during green flag stops at lap 150 the only incident of the race happened. Entering turn 3, Brett Moffitt turned down into the corner across the nose of Chase Briscoe. The two would back it hard into the fence of the corner. No other cars would be involved, but the caution came out and trapped around half the field a lap down or on the tail end of the lead lap.

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On the final restart, it was Ross Chastain leading with a field of cars in front of him. When the field took the green, it was clear the win would be highly contested. The lead was traded between multiple cars in the final 40 laps. With less than 20 to go, Ryan Truex moved to the lead. Thanks to lapped traffic, he would earn the biggest gap back to 2nd a leader had had all night. With about a 1 second lead over his competitors, it looked like Truex could hang on for his first career win. But he started to struggle with traffic while the cars behind him began to make moves.

Suddenly with less than 10 to go, Truex was under fire. Theriault, Harrison Burton, Haley, Ty Dillon, Byron, Bowman, Allgaier, Gaulding all had inserted themselves into the battle at one point or another. But on the final lap, Truex would finally fall. Justin Haley and Ty Dillon got to the outside of the #07 in turn 2. Both would clear Truex and Haley would go on to hold off Ty Dillon to win.

This is the first Cup Series win for Kaulig Racing and the first win for Justin Haley since his massive upset at Daytona in 2019.
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Sonoma Pre-Race Info
Race Info:
110 laps/220 miles
Stage laps: 25/50/110
Final race of the West Coast Swing
2022 winner: Justin Allgaier
Team Penske cars running 'Penske First Win 50th Anniversary' paint schemes
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Sonoma - Stage 1
Starting on the pole, Matt DiBenedetto got off to the lead instantly at drop of the green cloth. The top 10 would shuffle slightly throughout the 25 lap first stage, but it was a clean run to green-checkered. Matt DiBenedetto would lead every lap to grab his first stage win of the year.
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Sonoma - Stage 2
Stage 2 would be home to the first incident of the day and bring out the first of 3 cautions (all of which came out during green flag stops). Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson made contact as Busch came off pit road and the two drivers would spin to the dirt in turn 1. Meanwhile, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Haley would make contact reacting to the incident, sending Haley into the dirt and eventually into the tire barriers on the hill. Haley would be able to continue as would Busch, Larson, and JHN.
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Thanks to the size of the track, nobody would get trapped a lap down. Matt DiBenedetto cycled back to the race lead for the restart. The dominant driver of the day would lead the rest of the stage to become the first driver to sweep the stages this season.
Stage 2 Winner.png

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Sonoma - Final Stage
The final stage would see the most action of any other stage. The first of two cautions came out early in the stage when Joey Logano and Kyle Benjamin came together in turn 1.
Screenshot (115) JPG.jpg

Once again, the dominant #95 would cycle back to the race lead for the upcoming restart. But the final caution of the race would break that trend. With under 20 to go, the field came to pit for the final time. This time, contact with Chase Elliott and Austin Cindric would bring out the yellow in turn 1.
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Thanks to pit strategy Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, and Brad Keselowski would cycle ahead of Matt DiBenedetto for the final restart with just over 10 laps to go. On said restart, the race would be decided. Brad Keselowski, restarting 3rd, would send it under Alex Bowman heading into turn 1 and up the hill. He would get to the outside of Buescher as DiBenedetto and Bowman battled for 3rd. Keselowski would take the lead from Buescher while DiBenedetto got 3rd from Bowman. Keselowski wouldn't be able to run away but would keep the gap stable all the way to the checkered.

Brad Keselowski would grab his first win of the season, breaking a long winless streak stretching back to 2021. The win is also made special since it came in the Team Penske tribute car. Keselowski is also the first non-Chevrolet driver to win a points race this season and only the second non-Chevy driver to win any of the races, exhibition and points, this season.
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Atlanta Pre-Race Info
Race Info:
267 laps/400 miles
Stage laps: 80/160/267
Atlanta Tour race #1
2022 winner: William Byron
Hendrick cars running Jeff Gordon tribute throwbacks
Pole Winner.png

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