The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Season has come to a close. After a year of tight-cornered racing, your 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion is Cole Custer!
For the most part, this was a pretty straightforward race. The Championship 4 were up front pretty much all race and, like in years past, it all came down to a late-race restart to crown the champion.
Cole Custer: 2023 Xfinity Series Champion
When it was announced that Cole Custer would be leaving the NASCAR Cup Series to head back down to Xfinity, it raised some eyebrows. While some might have simply written him off as a NASCAR Bust, Stewart-Haas Racing still saw something in the 25-year-old California native as he was given his old ride back–the No. 00 Haas-sponsored car he had driven for much of his career. But he never let the doubters in his ability get him down. When he returned to the Xfinity Series, he went in to prove that he belonged. And though his start to the 2023 season wasn’t ideal, he recovered quickly and was able to declare himself a championship threat with his win at Portland.
Cole ends the season with the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship as well as 3 wins, 14 top-5s, and 21 top-10s. It was his incredible consistency in the playoffs that played a big hand in making his championship dreams come true.
He was fast throughout the race, dominating much of it with championship rival, John Hunter Nemechek. Below, you can watch the wild last lap as he cruised to victory.
Provided by NASCAR on NBC, here you can see the crew celebrating as Cole Custer crossed the line as champion.
Three-time Cup Champion, Tony Stewart, gets to return to Victory Lane, once again, as a championship car owner.
The burnout of a lifetime.
It’s looking to be a sweet off-season for Championship-winning driver Cole Custer.
Looking ahead to 2024, it was reported last week that Cole Custer will be returning to the No. 00 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in an attempt to defend his title.
So Close, yet So Far
Many thought that this might just be Justin Allgaier’s year. Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. Allgaier did have a great year, though, despite JRM’s struggles early on. He was the first to break through when he won at the spring Charlotte race. And, building off the momentum from a victory at Martinsville, he was many fan’s top pick to finally win it all.
The race was less than ideal, however, for Allgaier and their No. 7 team. They spun early in Stage 1, bringing out a caution. Luckily, there was no damage and the 7 crew was able to recover. Here, you can watch Allgaier’s save.
After the spin, Allgaier pitted for fresh rubber. Here you can see the No. 7 crew go to work.
Justin Allgaier and the No. 7 crew were able to rebound nicely as they were racing in the top-5 for the entirety of the closing laps. A late-race caution with just under 20 laps to go saw a final round of pitstops. Allgaier was able to gain a spot on championship rival, John Hunter Nemechek and restart the race in third with the laps winding down. And he was right there with Custer through the final lap but ultimately came up short. He capped off his 2023 season with a 3rd place finish, coming in 2nd in the overall standings.
Just Allgaier might not have been crowned Xfinity Series champion tonight but he did have a great consistent year. In 2023 he won 4 races, finished in the top-5 15 times, and the top-10 20 times. In the tweet below, provided by Dustin Long, you can see car owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. approach his driver, giving him words of encouragement.
For the 2024 season, Justin Allgaier is signed to return to the JRM No. 7 Chevy where he’ll give racing for the Xfinity Series Championship another go.
Earlier in the season, many fans might have considered Sam Mayer to be an underdog pick to win the 2023 Xfinity Series champion. But, in the final rounds of the 2023 playoffs, his consistency proved that he was a serious title contender. He spent most of this race swapping the third and fourth seeds with JRM teammate, Justin Allgaier, and, in the end, he finished a solid 5th place, 3rd in the overall standings.
Sam Mayer ends his season matching his teammate Allgaier’s 4 wins. In addition, he also scored 13 top-5 finishes and 19 top-10s. He caught up with NBC Sports following his solid run and stated that he could not wait for the 2024 season to get underway.
Sam Mayer has shown a lot of growth in the last year. He will be returning to drive the JRM No. 1 Chevy in 2024 in hopes of building on his ’23 success.
John Hunter Nemechek
Like Custer, when John Hunter Nemechek announced that he was giving up his Cup ride to drop back down in trucks, it raised some eyebrows. Then he went and dominated the Truck Series in 2022. In 2023, he did much of the same in JGR’s No. 20 entry. In 2023, the No. 20 car with JHN won 7 times, finished in the top-5 17 times, and in the top-10 24 times.
He started this championship race as one of the favorites and he proved early on exactly why. He dominated much of this race and even won the first stage. In the clip below, you can see Nemechek capture the flag at the end of Stage 1.
After briefly losing the lead to a hard-charging Sheldon Creed, Nemechek took the lead off and looked to set sail on the rest of the field. At the end of the day, though, it was the No. 00 car that came to life and took the lead away from Nemechek. And, for the second year in a row, Nemechek, despite being dominant all season, is not hoisting a championship trophy at the end of the season.
It was a last-lap kiss of the wall which more or less sealed his fate as he had a tire going down. He ultimately finished 28th, 4th of the Championship 4.
John Hunter Nemechek will return to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024, taking over the No. 42 Toyota for Legacy Motor Club.
Another year is in the books for the NASCAR Xfinity Series! Daily Downforce readers, let us know how your bracket fared in this championship race. Were you able to successfully pick the winner or, like so many others, was your bracket broken weeks ago? Let us know!