5 newsworthy storylines from a busy week heading into Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn — It’s been a busy week leading into Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series opening round cut off race at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway. So much so you almost forget we have to race this weekend. Most of the news has overshadowed that fact.

Here’s what you may have missed.

Busch’s Future Secured, Larson Signed Through 2026

After months of speculation and searching, Kyle Busch finally has his future solidified. He’ll take a 1 off of his current car number and replace Tyler Reddick in the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

It gives Busch his destination and a calmness that he doesn’t have to worry about what he’s doing anymore.

On the flipside, another Kyle didn’t want to test that open market. Kyle Larson signed an early extension with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2026 season. He was set to be a free agent at the end of next season.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 17: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Reddick In The Middle Of A 2-Team Fight?

Tyler Reddick is now the pawn stuck in the middle of 2 teams likely posturing against one another. Denny Hamlin and 23XI Racing have been adamant that they’re not going to expand to a 3 car team next season. They never planned to be and with announcing Reddick’s deal back in July, it gives them 18 months to plan.

The only way they’ll expand to a 3 car team is if Kurt Busch decides to return in 2024 (his deal currently runs through 2023). This late in the season, it’s not possible for them to expand yet.

Richard Childress was blunt and clear on Tuesday saying that they’ll keep Reddick’s option for 2023 and he’ll drive a 3rd car for them instead. As far as why moving him from the 8 team when it’s been working so well?

Childress says it’s simple.


Busch is here for the future where Reddick is out of the doors at the end of 2023. Why not keep an established team together and insert a new driver who will be in it for the longer haul? Why put Busch with a third team in 2023 only to move him over to the 8 car for 2024?

The thing here is, Childress says this car will be chartered. That costs millions to secure one. Is it work forking out 8 figures for a charter for one year’s use? It’s not just the charter you need to acquire too. You need pit crew members, a car chief, a crew chief, engineering staff, etc. That would push you likely north of $20-million for one season.

Is it work $20-million for one car plus whatever you’re paying Busch to come over?

It’s likely cheaper to just negotiate a buy out. The thing is, Childress knows that Kurt Busch’s status for 2023 could be in jeopardy as he’s missed out of every race since his July 23 qualifying crash at Pocono. Does he even want to return?

If he doesn’t, then this could be where Reddick has to go for 2023 which means 23XI does need to buy out Reddick’s contract which would be significantly less costly than them buying a charter too.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

2023 Schedules Released

For the first time in 3 years, the NASCAR schedule unveiling wasn’t as big of a deal of the last 2. That’s because there weren’t many radical changes like we’ve seen in years past, plus the ones that were occurring, had already been announced.

NASCAR on Wednesday announced the 2023 schedules for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. During the organization’s 75th anniversary season, NASCAR’s national series will visit an exciting mix of history-rich venues, short tracks and road courses, with the sport reaching a new level of excitement with the already-announced Chicago Street Race – a bold, first-of-its-kind addition in a globally renowned city.

For Cup, the changes were minor. Richmond’s summer race moves up to Indy’s slot while Indy moves back to August. The Richmond race will run at night. Texas loses a date since the All-Star race moves to North Wilkesboro. Martinsville’s spring race will be a day race now. Atlanta moves their summer race to a night race as well.

One thing should note that NASCAR is strongly against Saturday night races for Cup. So much so, both Atlanta and Richmond will run on Sunday night’s instead.

There’s not much other changes to note for the Cup Series.

For the Xfinity Series, they’ll go to Sonoma for the first time ever which marks a record 8 races on road courses in 2023. The Trucks won’t go to Sonoma but instead will make a return to the Milwaukee Mile. That race is the 2nd playoff race.

MORE: My 5 takeaways for the Xfinity and Truck Series 2023 schedules

Bristol in the Xfinity Series also moves to the playoffs as Talladega is moved out. Sonoma replaces Talladega.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JULY 30: Brandon Jones, driver of the #19 Menards/DuPont Air Filters Toyota, Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, and Andy Lally, driver of the #08 TicketSmarter/Special Report Ford, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 30, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Brandon Jones Moves To JRM, Why This Move Is Significant

There will be a new face behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet in 2023. JR Motorsports announced today the signing of 25-year-old Brandon Jones to the organization where he’ll compete full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season.

Jones is five-time winner and eight-year veteran in the series who has qualified for the NXS Playoffs in six of the last seven seasons. In addition to his five wins – including a popular victory earlier this year at Martinsville Speedway – Jones claims 35 top-five and 97 top-10 finishes, and a best points finish of sixth in 2020.

“Brandon’s been a tough competitor over the years, and he’s a talented addition to JR Motorsports,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JRM co-owner and general manager. “He’s a series veteran that brings a lot of experience, and we’re going to see big things from Brandon and the 9 team in 2023.”

This move is a make or break move for the Georgia native.

Another year with Joe Gibbs Racing wasn’t necessarily going to do wonders for Jones. It would have been Year 6 for him there. With no real room to move up into a JGR ride on the Cup level and Jones unfortunately not being a splashy name to land at 23XI Racing, remaining with JGR was going to make him and Xfinity Series lifer.

Going to JRM could be the breakout that he’s been long searching for. This 9 car has won three championships (2014, 2017-18) and tallied 20 of the company’s 69 overall victories since 2014. If he can continue that success, Jones is young enough to still find a Cup ride.

There’s more Chevrolet teams than there are Toyota and this move could land him a promotion finally.

Jones has found Victory Lane at every level of NASCAR national series competition in which he’s raced. The Atlanta native lays claim to eight ARCA wins, a K&N East-West Challenge victory and a Truck Series triumph in 2020.

However, if he doesn’t thrive in this ride, then there’s no reason to even think Cup level because it will show everyone that maybe he is an Xfinity Series lifer. This is one of the top rides in the series and Jones has to be thinking Championship 4’s now.

2023 will be Year No. 8 in this series and with that much experience, even in the first year with this team, he’s got to win multiple races in the regular season and find a way to vie for a final four berth.

“To watch how competitive JRM has been over the years is really impressive,” Jones said. “They’re a threat to win every week, and one of the premier teams in our series. I’m so thankful to Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), Kelley and Mr. Hendrick for allowing me to be part of it.

“Reuniting with Chevrolet again is awesome, too. They were a big part of my career early on, and I’m looking forward to building on those relationships and driving a Camaro in 2023.”

This move is also big for Toyota in a way that it opens up a seat in the Xfinity Series that they’ll need. With Kyle Busch signing with RCR, it takes away the Truck program. With John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith and Corey Heim all needing places to go, with Jones departing and a likely move of Ty Gibbs up to Cup, it allows 2 seats on the Xfinity level to go to 2 of those 3. The other can even shift over to Sam Hunt Racing if needed.

All 3 have more upside they feel than Jones so it creates a better path.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 26: Jeremy Clements, driver of the #51 One Stop/ASE Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag under caution to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on August 26, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Clements Gets Penalty Thrown Out

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for Jeremy Clements. He won the race at Daytona last month to stamp his name into the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason. Then his win was taken away via a penalty. They appealed. Their case was heard. Now, the results have come in their favor.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Jeremy Clements Racing won its appeal of an L2-level penalty levied by NASCAR officials following the No. 51 Chevrolet’s victory last month at Daytona International Speedway, the National Motorsports Appeals Panel decided.

Clements wheeled the vehicle to victory in the Xfinity Series race, but the win was soon determined ineligible to count for the Xfinity Series Playoffs. The No. 51 was found in violation of Sections 14.6.12K&U of the NASCAR Rule Book, which pertains to the intake manifold. Additionally, crew chief Mark Setzer was initially fined $60,000 and the team was assessed the loss of 75 owner points, 75 driver points and 10 playoff points should it still qualify for the postseason.

Those penalties are now wiped clean and Clements’ win will count toward qualifying for the postseason.

The Appeals Panel members for this hearing were Tom DeLoach, Richard Gore and Dixon Johnston.

As a result, Ryan Sieg is bumped out and trails Landon Cassill by 19 points. His teammate and defending series champion, Daniel Hemric, is +37. Sheldon Creed is -32.

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