Motorsport News

Has Joe Gibbs Racing Caught Up to Hendrick Motorsports?

NASCAR Cup Series

1. A points-paying North Wilkesboro Cup race?

One of the most welcome surprises of the 2023 NASCAR season has been the return of North Wilkesboro Speedway, just in time for NASCAR’s 75th anniversary celebration.

Having sat largely vacant since NASCAR’s exit in 1996, North Wilkesboro’s first year back in NASCAR will consist of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, May 20 and the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race on Sunday, May 21.

As expected, All-Star weekend has been one of the most highly anticipated dates on the 2023 calendar. And with the race just over a week away, the attention has already turned to 2024 and beyond: Could the 0.625-mile short track be back on points-paying schedule for the first time in more than 27 years?

The ticket sales already suggest that the weekend will be a success, and if there is even the potential for a points-paying race in the future, by all means, make it happen.

The track has the infrastructure to support it, and there has been 27 years of anticipation building up to next week.

And while there have been concerns about the Next Gen car’s performance on short tracks, none of that should matter for the time being. All that matters is that a historic relic of NASCAR’s past — one that was nearly lost forever — will be making its triumphant return.

2. Has Joe Gibbs Racing caught up to Hendrick Motorsports?

No, but the gap between Hendrick and second place is the closest it’s been all season.

The talk of the town in the first months of 2023 has been Hendrick teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson. The formidable duo has four wins on the season, and the pair has combined to lead 1,142 of the 3,248 laps run up to this point.

But despite a rocky start to the season, the JGR quartet has slowly but surely marched to the top of the scoring pylon.

Christopher Bell scored his first win of the season at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track, and he leads all drivers with eight top-10 finishes in 12 races. Martin Truex Jr. broke a 54-race winless streak at Dover Motor Speedway on May 1, and he backed it up with one of the fastest cars at Kansas…

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