NASCAR Cup Series team grades for 2023: RFK Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Rick Ware Racing, Front Row Motorsports Featured

Posted On Wednesday, 15 November 2023 01:42 Written by
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Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 car for RFK Racing, receives the checkered flag after winning the Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on August 7, 2023. The 2023 season was a breakout year for Buescher as well as the entire RFK Racing team. Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 car for RFK Racing, receives the checkered flag after winning the Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on August 7, 2023. The 2023 season was a breakout year for Buescher as well as the entire RFK Racing team. Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

 

Part three of my reflections on the year that was, and what’s to come in 2024, for Cup series teams:

RFK Racing 
Results: Chris Buescher (7th in points); Brad Keselowski (8th in points)
Grade: A-

Talk about overachieving: RFK Racing was the breakout Cup team of 2023. RFK Racing co-owner/driver Brad Keselowski had long hyped up his teammate Chris Buescher’s talent, but that was backed up when Buescher shocked everyone by rattling off three wins this summer. 

Meanwhile, Keslowski consistently ran up front all year, and took home 7 top-5 finishes. He could easily return to victory lane next season. The fact that both these drivers finished in the top 8 in points is extremely impressive for a team still aiming to rebuild back to the levels of success once enjoyed in the former glory days of Roush Racing. 

Look for Buescher and Keselowski to remain contenders in 2024 in the newly unveiled Mustang Dark Horse. 

Richard Childress Racing
Results: Kyle Busch (14th in points); Austin Dillon (29th in points)
Grade: B-

The arrival of Kyle Busch to team Childress was the biggest news in the sport ahead of the 2024 season. And pretty quickly, Kyle delivered the team success in the form of three victories. The team has embraced Kyle and he has gone from fan pariah to fan favorite by changing teams. Unfortunately, once the playoffs hit, the 8 team seemed to fall apart and Kyle tumbled all the way to 14th in points. Kyle has obviously got the talent to win a title, and if the team gives him cars capable of doing so, he’ll continue to win and potentially do better come playoff time in 2024.


As far as Austin Dillon goes, let me state the obvious: He’s not great, to be kind, and would best serve the team by getting out of the 3 car and passing it off to a more talented driver who can contend for wins on a regular basis.

Rick Ware Racing
Results: 34th and 35th in owner point standings (multiple drivers)
Grade: F

It was a nightmare season on and off the track for Rick Ware Racing. 

Driver Cody Ware was suspended in the spring after a domestic violent incident, and the rotating driver lineups in the 15 and 51 cars this season were always at the back of the pack. 

The good news is there will be a big driver upgrade next year with Justin Haley moving to the team full-time. But even with the talent there, will Haley have any resources behind him? 

An alliance with RFK Racing and the Haley signing seem to point toward better days ahead, which is why they still have their charters, but only time will tell how much of an improvement they make.

Front Row Motorsports
Results: Michael McDowell (15th in points); Todd Gilliland (28th in points)
Grade: B-

Michael McDowell was the team’s leader this season, running consistently well and dominating in a win at the Indy road course to make the playoffs. He’ll be back in 2024 and could be even more consistent than he was this season now that he’s more used to running up front. 

The team’s second driver, Todd Gilliland, had an unremarkable season, with just four top-10 runs. He’ll need to make significant progress next year if he wants to stay with the team long-term.

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Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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