Hendrick Motorsports to run four Xfinity races in 2023
Hendrick Motorsports‘ #17 NASCAR Xfinity Series car will once again run a road course-heavy calendar in 2023 with a lone oval start, once again entrusting the car to their Cup Series lineup.
Three of the team’s four Cup drivers will race the car, with the exception being Chase Elliott who also did not pilot the car in 2022. The #17’s first start of the year will come at Circuit of the Americas on 25 March with William Byron, followed by Kyle Larson at Sonoma Raceway on 10 June and Alex Bowman at Watkins Glen International on 19 August to give the trio one road start each. Larson will enter its lone oval race at Darlington Raceway on 2 September.
Larson won at Sonoma, his home track, in the Cup Series during his championship run in 2021.
The #17 will be sponsored by HendrickCars.com, a number and sponsor pairing that team owner Rick Hendrick‘s late son Ricky sported during his driving career. The number was also used by the team’s Cup and Truck Series programme, with Darrell Waltrip winning the 1989 Daytona 500 in the former.
“Watching the #17 return to the track last year was very special,” Hendrick stated. “It was fun being back in the Xfinity Series and seeing a great return from our HendrickCars.com sponsorship. The team had strong results on the track, but we didn’t quite get to Victory Lane. Having unfinished business gives us extra motivation this season.”
Larson won the pole in the #17’s début at Road America but finished runner-up after being overtaken by Ty Gibbs on the final lap. Bowman then ran Indianapolis and placed second, while Byron won the pole at The Glen but spun while racing Gibbs and ironically lost the victory to Larson, who was in affiliate JR Motorsports’ #88. Larson returned for Darlington and battled for the win with Sheldon Creed and Noah Gragson, missing out by two spots.
“We learned a lot in 2022 and felt the extra seat time was valuable for our drivers,” added team president Jeff Andrews. “Bringing back the programme was an easy decision, but we know competing at a high level in the Xfinity Series takes a big commitment. We’re going to throw everything we have at these four races. Winning with the #17 HendrickCars.com Chevy is the priority.”
Hendrick’s Xfinity team was formerly a regular in the 1980s and 2000s, winning the 2003 championship with Brian Vickers, but rendered redundant after 2009 due to Hendrick investing into JRM.