CONCORD, N.C. BY RJ KRAFT
The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is made up of 38 events – 36 points-paying events plus the exhibition races of the Clash and the All-Star Race.
Some races carry more weight such as a crown jewel, while others hold more personal significance due to the geographic location, one’s racing history at that particular venue or how close they have come to reaching victory lane there.
2024 ROUNDTABLE: Which crown jewel do you most want to win?
Kyle Larson is excited for the first Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway. The 0.875-mile track was a staple of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series from 2009 to 2019. The configuration and progressive banking in the turns make the Midwest facility a unique venue on the calendar.
“Iowa (Speedway) will be a fun one,” Larson said. “I ran there in 2012 in the K&N East Series (now ARCA Menards Series East) and I ran two (NASCAR) Xfinity (Series) races in ’13. It was a really cool track. I’ve run a pavement midget race there and a Silver Crown race there. Lots of Kyle Larson fans in that region too with (dirt track) Knoxville Raceway only being 25 minutes away. I look forward to that weekend.
“I also look forward to getting back to Chicago (for the street race). That was probably my favorite event from this year. Hopefully, the weather cooperates a little better this time around.”
Wet weather shortened the race in downtown Chicago from 100 laps to 75 laps, delayed the start of the Cup Series race and caused multiple delays and a shortening of the Xfinity Series race.
EVERY WIN AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FOR: Bowman | Byron | Elliott | Larson
For Alex Bowman, there is one track in particular that has his eye for 2023. A “Monster” venue that has statistically been great to the No. 48 Ally Racing team in recent years and one that Bowman missed last season due to injury.
“I’m excited to go back to Dover (Motor Speedway),” Bowman said. “I missed that race last year and it’s my favorite racetrack.”
The numbers certainly back that up. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has a win at the 1-mile venue (headlining the top-four sweep for Hendrick Motorsports in 2021), five top-five finishes and a 6.2 average finish in his last six starts there.
On the other hand, William Byron didn’t have a specific track in mind. Rather the 26-year-old driver highlighted a certain type of track, one that has major championship implications as the season comes to a close.
“I’m most eager to get to the short tracks and see how we perform,” Byron said. “We have a lot of work to do on those tracks. We’ve started it some but we are still in the figuring out process of all that. My goal for 2024 would be to win a couple of short-track races. That would be a huge accomplishment for me.
“Bristol (Motor Speedway) and Richmond (Raceway) come to mind. Those are big, very important tracks and would be huge wins for us.”
The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has a short-track win at Martinsville Speedway (in 2022).
RELATED: Previewing key story lines for the 2024 season
For Chase Elliott, the six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award, it is all about taking it one week at a time.
“They are all an opportunity and that’s kind of how I look at them,” Elliott said. “I don’t get overly excited for one particular place over the other. I look forward to the opportunity and the chance to go and try to better myself the next week.”
- Hendrick Motorsports