Who are the top road course racers in the NASCAR world heading into the 2023 season? A look here

A total of 57 different drivers have won on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon with nine (Sonoma, five; Watkins Glen, four) road course victories. NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart has the second most road course wins all-time in the series with eight (Watkins Glen, five; Sonoma, three).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most wins at a single road course track with six victories at Riverside International Raceway (1971, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1981 sweep).

In saying that, who are the top drivers on these tracks today? A total of 12 active NASCAR Cup Series road course winners are entered this weekend at COTA.

Active Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series

Active Road Course Winners (12)Total WinsSonomaWGICharlotteDaytonaIndyCOTARoad America
Kyle Busch42200000
Martin Truex Jr43100000
Kyle Larson41210000
Kevin Harvick21100000
AJ Allmendinger20100100
Christopher Bell20011000
Tyler Reddick20000101
Joey Logano10100000
Ryan Blaney10010000
Denny Hamlin10100000
Daniel Suárez11000000
Jimmie Johnson11000000
Ross Chastain10000010

Chevrolet was the top team on road courses last season with taking 5 of the 6 wins on them. Toyota, despite their ROVAL win in October, struggled mightily on them and were the worst of the three manufacturers. Do these changes to the car and not stopping for the end of stages help them close the gap this year?

Chevrolet however, has been the top team for far longer than 2022 anyways. The bowties had won all but one road course race in 2022 and the final 6 of 2021 for 11 wins in the last 12 tries on these tracks. Factor in the 2019 race at Watkins Glen (2 races in 2019) and the 2 races (Daytona, Charlotte) in 2020 and you get Chevy scoring 15 wins in the last 17 road course races in general. Does this rule change affect them in the same sense as Toyota?

The road courses a year ago for the Toyota camp were dismal. Yes, changes have been made to the package, but will it help them? I struggle to think that it will help them make such a drastic leap from where they were a year ago. Martin Truex Jr finished 7th, 26th, 13th, 21st, 23rd and 17th in the 6 races on them. Denny Hamlin was 18th, 31st, 17th, 14th, 20th and 13th. Kyle Busch was 28th, 30th, 29th, 11th, 32nd and third. Christopher Bell being 3rd, 27th, 18th, 12th, 8th and first. Bubba Wallace was 38th, 36th, 35th, 5th, 35th and 7th. The 45 ride which is now the 23 was 32nd, 18th, 23rd, 17th, 16th and 22nd between Kurt Busch and Ty Gibbs.

Still, for Bell, he won the ROVAL and has four Top-6 finishes in five starts this season. He was third at COTA last season. New Toyota driver, Tyler Reddick, won at both Road America and Indianapolis last year with RCR. In fact, he was in the top three on the final lap here a year ago too. Reddick has a pair of top five finishes in each of the last two weeks.

Combined, he and Bell won 3 of the final 4 road course races in 2022. What can they do with Toyota power in COTA this weekend.

On the flipside, Trackhouse Racing won the first two road course races a year ago. They combined to sweep the two of the three stages here last year with Suarez leading all the laps in Stage 1 and Chastain leading all 31 of his laps in the final stage. Chastain earned his first career win in that race a year ago as well. Suarez won his first career race on the next road course of last season in Sonoma.

However, they’ve since slid backwards after a strong start to the season.

They locked up both of their drivers long-term and they rewarded that stability with Dual Top 10 finishes in both Daytona and Fontana. In fact, through the first four stages run of the season, Ross Chastain had won three of them.

They were both strong in Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta last year so I expected them to be a race winner by now. Unfortunately, they’re each sliding backwards.

Chastain’s last three finishes have been 12th, 24th and 13th respectively. He’s led six combined laps in this span. Last year in Atlanta, he finished runner-up in both races.

Suarez finished 10th, 22nd and 29th respectively in the same three races with no laps led himself in either of the three races. He was caught speeding twice in Phoenix and was caught up in a crash in Atlanta.

Can both turn this back around in COTA?

If not, then AJ Allmendinger could be there to capitalize. 12 of his 17 career Cup and Xfinity Series wins came on road courses including last year’s NXS race at COTA. He also won Indy last in 2021, was in the top 3 on the final lap in COTA last year, was in the top 10 late in the race at Sonoma last year, finished 9th in Road America, 7th at Indy again last July and runner-up at Watkins Glen.

Next Gen Era

Runner-Up Finishes – Six different drivers finished runner-up in the six road course Cup Series races last season: Alex Bowman (COTA), Chris Buescher (Sonoma), Chase Elliott (Road America), Austin Cindric (Indianapolis RC), AJ Allmendinger (WGI) and Kevin Harvick (Charlotte Roval).

Top Fives – A total of 18 different drivers scored top-five finishes in the six road course races run last season, led by Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick with three top fives each.

Top 10s – A total of 26 different drivers posted a top-10 finish in the six road course races run last season, led by Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick with five top 10s each.

Average Finishes – A total of five different drivers had an average finish of 10th or better in the six Cup road course races last season – Chase Elliott (9.0), Chris Buescher (9.0), Austin Cindric (9.3), Tyler Reddick (9.5) and Michael McDowell (10.8). 

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