One of the main reasons NASCAR diehards tune in each week is the unpredictable nature of the sport. When an underdog wins big unexpectedly, it’s the easiest way to unite NASCAR fans, regardless of their allegiance to the winning team.
To different degrees, such victories occurred a few times in the 2023 season. This year, several drivers who were well-known in the automotive world but new to NASCAR made unexpected cameos and, in one instance, made it to Victory Lane. So, before logging into your account to play Christmas Slots at Slots Capital on your laptop, have a look at four of the most surprising winners from the 75th season of NASCAR.
- Shane van Gisbergen (The Chicago Street Course)
Shane van Gisbergen undoubtedly takes the first spot on today’s list! Anyone who tries to tell you that they genuinely thought Shane van Gisbergen would win a race in the NASCAR Cup Series while making his debut is lying! Since this has never been done before, nobody could have expected it.
Yes, drivers have triumphed in their first races in the past, but not with such stark disparities in discipline. Denny Hamlin even acknowledged as much. It’s mindblowing that SVG was driving on the other side of the car than he was accustomed to and using muscles much differently than he had ever had to!
Sure, street racing is his primary source of income. However, after his incredible victory at the Chicago Street Course, SVG has cemented himself in the NASCAR world, and there’s no doubt that you will be hearing about him for many years to come.
Even though he might not compete full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2024, you can still count on him to participate in a few Truck and Xfinity Series races while driving the No. 91 for Trackhouse. SVG undoubtedly has a bright future in NASCAR and a devoted fan following.
- Michael McDowell (The Indianapolis Road Course)
Over the past few years, Michael McDowell and his Front Row Racing team have accomplished some amazing things. The team has been on the rise since they won the Daytona 500 in 2021. This feat qualified them for the playoffs.
Both of their cars have significantly improved. While Michael McDowell has a strong track record on road courses, and it was not out of the question that he could win one, no one could have imagined the absolute dominance McDowell and company displayed at the 2023 Indianapolis Road Course race.
Michael McDowell won his second NASCAR Cup Series race by utterly dominating the Indy Road Course. He was, without a doubt, the best racer that weekend, so he went ahead and claimed what he believed was rightly his.
- A. J. Allmendinger (The Charlotte Roval)
Most fans weren’t exactly expecting A.J. to prevail in these kinds of racing situations, but it wasn’t completely out of the question either. Given the number of road courses available on the NASCAR calendar these days, many fans were hoping the experienced driver would pick up a few victories when Kaulig revealed before the 2023 season that A. J. Allmendinger would be joining the team full-time and driving their flagship No. 16. But that was almost a season away from happening.
Throughout the season, Allmendinger’s road courses, which are his mainstay tracks, saw a lot of mid-to-lower-of-the-pack runs. It led many in the audience and media to wonder if the two-time Cup winner would even return to the race the following year. It’s still unknown whether Allmendinger will go back to driving the No. 16 Chevy at this time.
What is known is that Allmendinger demonstrated his skills as a wheelman in October 2023, winning his third career checkered flag at the Charlotte Roval.
- Ross Chastain (The Phoenix Raceway)
Nobody should be too shocked that Ross Chastain enjoyed a multi-win season. He did, after all, win twice in a breakout year last year. However, 2023 was different. Many viewers lost sight of Chastain’s ability during the Playoffs since he didn’t exhibit the same speed as Hendrick and, occasionally, RCR as he did the previous year. Leaving early didn’t help either.
It was common knowledge that Trackhouse was a strong squad and that Chastain was a gifted racer. However, the location and method of this victory at Phoenix, in particular, is why he’s on this list. Ross Chastain won during the season finale, not at the spring Phoenix race. And in the last few circuits, he gave Ryan Blaney a fierce race.
The NASCAR independent media took notice when he raced him so fiercely. Never before had anyone witnessed a non-championship four-driver race with title contenders with such vigor, knowing their loss would be greater than the winner’s.
However, Ross Chastain never takes a half-measure. He went all out and secured the victory because he wanted it, almost causing a mess before calmer heads won out. Ultimately, Ross Chastain emerged victorious in the season finale, marking the first time a driver other than a Championship 4 winner has done so since the format’s adoption ten years prior, in 2014. Just like the Hail Melon the previous year, his victory will go down in history!
These were just a handful of the names that raised the bar in the 2023 NASCAR Cup season, drawing attention from motorsport enthusiasts worldwide.
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