This 2023 season has been a career-year for some drivers. Some drivers have found some resurgence after a slump, others are finding their footing for the first time, and others are just straight-up dominating like always. Here are five drivers that have caught the eye of us here at the Daily Downforce.
This is not a list of the five “Best Drivers” this season. Rather, it is a list of the five most impressive when taking into account things such as equipment, performance, and comparison to recent years.
By the Numbers: 3 Wins; 7 Top 5s; 9 Top 10s; 717 Laps Led; 7 Stage Wins
Breakdown: Byron is a driver who has seemed to be on the cusp of a breakout season for years now, and it seems that year has finally come. He would be in the points lead by 47 points if the 60 point penalty at Richmond did not happen, and he has arguably been the best driver on the grid this season. He leads the series or is tied for the lead in wins, top-5s, top-10s, laps led, and stage wins.
By the Numbers: 3 Wins; 5 Top 5s; 9 Top 10s; 214 Laps Led; 2 Stage Wins
Breakdown: Kyle Busch has not been the most consistent driver this season, but he currently is tied for the series lead in Top-10s and wins. Many wondered if there would be a performance dip for Busch making the move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing, but the performance has actually improved from last season. For the first time in realistically about a decade, Richard Childress Racing is a legitimate threat to win week-in and week-out, and Busch is the reason for that.
Martin Truex Jr.
By the Numbers: 2 Wins; 5 Top 5s; 8 Top 10s; 434 Laps Led; 1 Stage Win
Breakdown: Last season, many wondered whether or not Martin Truex Jr. would hang up his firesuit after a disappointing 2022 campaign. This season, Truex Jr. has silenced those voices with two wins including dominating at Sonoma and currently holding the series points lead. Truex Jr. can still win races, and he is definitely a threat for this championship at season’s end.
By the Numbers: 3 Top-5s; 7 Top-10s; 50 Laps Led; 1 Stage Win
Breakdown: RFK Racing has quietly had a very impressive season with both Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski solidly in the Playoffs purely on points. Buescher gets the nod for this list because he is ahead of Keselowski in the points, but both deserve a mention. While Buescher has not contended for to many race wins, he quite has brought the car home with solid finishes week-in and week-out, and a win for Buescher or RFK seems to be in the near future.
By the Numbers: 3 Top-10s; Only 14 points outside of the Playoffs
Breakdown: This weekend at Sonoma proved one thing, Michael McDowell is a legitimate threat to make the playoffs. He currently sits 18th in points only 14 points below the cut-line, which is by far the best of any Front Row Motorsports driver in the points this late into the season. McDowell is in the midst of the best season any Front Row Motorsports driver has ever had, and this weekends race at Sonoma puts him squarely Playoff conversation.
This season has seen its’ fair share of surprises, and many drivers have had some great years so far. Will these drivers be able to keep up their solid seasons?