What’s Happening?

By all measures, 2023 was a great year for 23XI Racing and RFK Racing as teams won multiple races and had all drivers make the Playoffs. However, a Round of 8 exit for both race teams shows that they still have some room to improve and the last hurdle is the hardest to jump. Can RFK Racing and/or 23XI Racing make the jump from Playoff contender to Championship contender in 2024?

  • RFK Racing won 3 races with Chris Buescher, and both drivers ended the season in the top 8 in the final standings. Buescher finished 7th, and Brad Keselowski came home 8th. Keselowski was knocked out of the Playoffs in the Round of 12, and Buscher was eliminated in the Round of 8.
  • 23XI Racing had 2 wins with Tyler Reddick, and both drivers finished in the top 10 in the points standings. Bubba Wallace concluded the season with a career-best 10th while Reddick ended up in 6th. Wallace was bumped out of the Playoffs during the Round of 12, and Reddick was booted in the Round of 8.
  • Fans are excited about what both of these teams can do in 2024. They were two of the most interesting stories of 2023, and 2024 is set to be just as intriguing.

RFK Racing

There aren’t any major changes at RFK Racing heading into 2024. The drivers, crew chiefs, and spotters will all remain the same, and it is understandable why. With how well the team fared in 2023, why would they make unnecessary changes for the upcoming season?

RFK Racing had a great 2023, but as the Playoffs went on, it became apparent that they weren’t quite a Championship level race team just yet. Chris Buescher struggled in the Round of 8 with only one top-10 finish at Martinsville, and he was never a serious threat to make it to the Championship 4.

Can RFK Racing make that jump? Look no further than Buscher’s success at the end of the summer. In an 8-race stretch from Richmond through the Round of 16 elimination race at Bristol, Buescher had 3 wins, 5 top-5s, 6 top-10s, and an average finish of 6.9.

In order to compete for a Championship, RFK needs to perform at or near that level throughout a season. They need to show that kind of performance during the regular season to earn some Playoff points. They also need to perform at that high of a level in the pressure-packed races late in the Playoffs. To make a Championship 4, just running 8th-15th will not cut it.

RFK Racing also has a Cup Series Champion in their walls, Brad Keselowski. While he did not win a Championship under the current format, he knows what type of performance it takes to win a Championship.

23XI Racing

23XI Racing is in a similar position for 2024. There are no major changes, and they ultimately were not good enough to make it out of the Round of 8.

Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace both had some clutch moments in the Playoffs, but they both showed some inconsistency. From the Round of 16 until the Round of 8, Reddick finished 8th or better 5 times, and he finished 15th or worse 3 times. Wallace was a similar story as he had 3 top-6 finishes and 3 finishes of 15th or worse during his Playoff run.

The name of the game is consistency. Reddick and Wallace can compete for wins and top-10s every race, but, there is no room for error if they want to take that next step. Tyler Reddick’s 26th place finish at Martinsville in the Round of 8 ended his Championship run.

Those types of races cannot happen, especially in the Playoffs. If they do, the top teams and top drivers will take advantage.

23XI has improved year after year since it was founded. As a result, the team expects they can and will continue to improve, so confidence is likely not an issue with this team. They can compete at that high of a level at points, but can they do it consistently?

What Holds Them Back

Both of these teams have to battle with some of the top teams in the sport. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Team Penske will all be back in 2024, and they are expected to compete for and win Championships.

If RFK Racing and 23XI Racing continue to show some of the same inconsistencies, other teams will pounce. Fighting with the big dogs is not easy, and it requires near perfection.

Both RFK and 23XI have competed with and beaten the big teams before, so, they can do it. The question is, can they do it week after week?