The first five races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season are in the books. Defending series champion Joey Logano returned to victory lane this past weekend by winning the Ambetter Health 400 in Atlanta. With that win, Logano secured his spot in the playoffs and moved into the top spot in the updated NASCAR Cup Series standings. Of course, there has also been plenty of recent drama off the track in the form of a massive penalty levied against Hendrick Motorsports that heavily impacted the NASCAR standings.
Below are the updated NASCAR Cup Series standings following the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A discussion of several noteworthy developments through the first five races of the season follows.
NASCAR Cup Series Standings Update | After Race 5 at Atlanta
Refer to the table below for the updated 2023 NASCAR Cup Series points standings through the first five races of the season. The table also includes additional NASCAR Cup Series stats including Wins, Top-5 Finishes, Top-10 Finishes and Stage Wins. The table is sortable by driver and statistic for your viewing convenience.
|Car Number||Driver||Standings Points||Wins||Top-5's||Top-10's||Stage Wins|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||145||0||0||1||0|
|47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||124||1||1||1||0|
Joey Logano Rises to Top of NASCAR Standings with Atlanta Win
Chevrolet went to victory lane in each of the first four races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. It wasn’t until Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta that another manufacturer was able to do some celebrating. For the first time since winning last year’s championship race in Phoenix, Joey Logano took the checkered flag to put Ford on the board with its first win of the season.
In addition to winning at Atlanta for the first time in his career, Logano was able to vault to the top of the updated NASCAR Cup Series standings. He managed to execute a last-lap pass for the lead in the final laps and beat out former Team Penske cohort, Brad Keselowski for the win. Coupled with his runner-up showing in the Daytona 500 and two more solid runs at Fontana and Phoenix, Logano has clearly been one of the most consistent drivers to start the season.
While Logano may be the points leader for now, he has plenty of company at the top of the NASCAR standings. After the Atlanta race, Christopher Bell is just one point back and Ross Chastain is also within five points of the defending series champion. Throw in Ryan Blaney, Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch and the top seven drivers are all separated by less than 25 points after five races.
Hendrick Motorsports with Ground to Make Up After Louver Penalty
Noticeably absent from the upper half of the NASCAR Cup Series standings are the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers. While Chase Elliott is still recovering from a leg injury that he sustained while snowboarding, the other three HMS cars have largely been the class of the field through the first five races. However, NASCAR levied the organization a massive penalty for altering the hood louvers on the cars prior to the race at Phoenix.
At the time of writing, details regarding Hendrick Motorsports’ appeal of this penalty remain unclear. That said, one has to imagine that the hearing will take place sooner rather than later. Even if HMS is able to successfully reduce the penalty, there’s no doubt that points deductions will still stand as NASCAR set this precedent last year with the new Next Gen Car by nailing Brad Keselowski and RFK Racing for modifying parts.
Thanks to the Hendrick Motorsports penalty, the current NASCAR standings hardly reflect on-track outcomes through the first five races. William Byron owns two outright victories already this season, but he is sitting just 28th in the points standings due to the penalty. Meanwhile, Alex Bowman sits just 20th in points despite scoring top-10 finishes in each of the first four races. Then, there’s Kyle Larson, who was second to Byron at Las Vegas and fourth at Phoenix but is now scored 32nd in points after the penalty.
Fortunately, the Hendrick Motorsports foursome of drivers is a threat to win virtually every time the NASCAR Cup Series takes to the track. Qualifying for the playoffs via a win remains very doable for each of the organization’s drivers. However, if the penalty is not reduced, a lack of playoff points could prove detrimental down the road in the chase for the championship.
Corey LaJoie Continues to Defy Expectations
How about some love for the underdog? Corey LaJoie continues to defy expectations and do more with less as the pilot of the No. 7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports. As a low-budget race team, Spire has achieved minimal success in the NASCAR Cup Series to date. Despite the odds being stacked against him, LaJoie just continues to stack pennies. His latest accomplishment came in the form of a fourth-place and career-best finish at Atlanta.
Combine the Atlanta result with the Hendrick Motorsports penalty and LaJoie is holding down the 14th spot in the updated NASCAR standings after five races. Prior to his career day last weekend, LaJoie scored top-20 finishes in three of the first four races to begin the year. That consistency has him situated higher in the points standings than anyone could’ve imagined. If the NASCAR Playoffs were to begin tomorrow, LaJoie would be among the 16 drivers racing for a championship!
Now, there are still over 20 races remaining before the playoffs actually do commence. As such, the question becomes whether or not LaJoie can possibly sustain his hot start over the long haul. This will likely prove to be impossible, but his prowess on the superspeedway tracks will give him three more realistic opportunities to win his way into the playoffs. Regardless of how it all shakes out, LaJoie and the No. 7 team deserve praise and recognition for their incredible start to the year.
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