Saturday, 22 June 2024

NASCAR Cup Series team grades for 2023: Legacy Motor Club, Kaulig Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Wood Brothers Racing Featured

Posted On Wednesday, 15 November 2023 23:18 Written by
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Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing, celebrates with his team in victory lane after winning the Daytona 500 on February 19, 2023, in Daytona Beach, Florida. The win was the highlight of his season and earned him a playoff spot. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing, celebrates with his team in victory lane after winning the Daytona 500 on February 19, 2023, in Daytona Beach, Florida. The win was the highlight of his season and earned him a playoff spot. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

 

Below is part four (the final installment) of my reflections on the year that was, and what’s to come in 2024, for Cup series teams:

Legacy Motor Club
Results: Erik Jones (27th in points); 32nd in owner point standings for 42 car (multiple drivers)
Grade: C-

The big news for Legacy Motor Club this year was that they’ll be moving from Chevy to Toyota for 2024, and that’s probably a wise move. 

Their final year with Chevy was disastrous, as talented Erik Jones could only muster a single top-5 in 2023, and 7 top-10 finishes, in the 43 car. 

The 42 car was even worse, with Noah Gragson delivering zero top-10 runs in 21 races before being sacked after his social media controversy. Next year is much more promising for the team, with John Hunter Nemechek taking over the 42 car full-time and bringing his crew chief with him, and Jones returning. If Toyota can provide them with fast cars, these are two drivers who can definitely step up for Legacy Motor Club in 2024.

Kaulig Racing
Results: A.J. Allmendinger (21st in points); Justin Haley (26th in points)
Grade: C

Kaulig was once among the best feel-good stories in NASCAR, delivering some new blood to the Xfinity series with an impressive series of victories. But their move to the Cup series has been less uplifting. 

The highlight was of course A.J. Allmendinger’s win at the Charlotte Roval, which was a fan favorite. But AJ’s overall year was spotty in terms of performance, and he will likely end up returning to Xfinity (by his choice), with the driver of the No. 16 still to be announced (rumored to be Ty Dillon).

Justin Haley had an unmemorable year in the 31, and will move over to the Rick Ware team in 2024 (an interesting choice to say the least), being replaced by Daniel Hemric in the 31 car. With so many unknowns, it’s unclear what the future holds in terms of Cup success for this team.


JTG Daugherty Racing
Results: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (16th in points)
Grade: C
The year started off in the best way possible for JTG Daugherty Racing, with driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. winning the biggest race of the year — the Daytona 500. 

This locked Stenhouse into the playoffs, which was huge for this one-car team. But the reality is that Stenhouse was destined to finish in 16th and last in the playoffs.

The Daytona win was one of just two top-5 finishes, and Stenhouse was top-10 in a respectable 9 out of 36 races. Looking ahead to 2024, outside of another surprise win like Daytona, I don’t see Stenhouse returning to the playoffs.

Wood Brothers Racing
Results: Harrison Burton (31st in points)
Grade: D-

While the historically great Wood Brothers team hasn’t exactly been blowing the doors off competitors in recent years, their efforts were especially futile in 2023. Over 36 races, young Harrison Burton could only manage 2 top-10 finishes, and had 6 DNFs. Mostly he was just getting lapped a lot and getting involved in wrecks, and he finished four spots lower in the points than in 2022. 

Both driver and team need to make major steps in 2024 to avoid a repeat at the bottom of the barrel.

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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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