Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Justin Haley: 2023’s Safest Full-Time NASCAR Cup Series Driver

Justin Haley 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season incidents Toby Tracker which NASCAR drivers crash the most?
Justin Haley was the full-time driver with the least on-track incidents during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, according to the Toby Tracker. Photo Credit: Tyson Gifford, Racing America

For the second consecutive season, Justin Haley was the safest full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver on track, according to TobyChristie.com’s Toby Tracker which calculates on-track incidents throughout the entire season.

RELATED: 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Incident Tracker

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Haley, who piloted the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Kaulig Racing, ended the 2023 season with just nine on-track incidents over the course of 36 races. This equates to 0.250 incidents per race for Haley. The nine incidents were actually a slight uptick in incidents for Haley, who was the safest full-time driver in 2022 with seven on-track incidents.

While Haley was safe on the track, he was decently fast as well. The 24-year-old racer finished runner-up in the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race at Chicago, and Haley scored a career-best six top-10 finishes in 2023.

Haley, who has shown an ability to avoid carnage on the track, will move to Rick Ware Racing in 2024.

Finishing just behind Haley on the safest driver list for 2023 were Championship 4 contender William Byron, who won six races this year, and three-time race winner Chris Buescher. Byron and Buescher both ended the season with 10 incidents.

The amount of on-track incidents since the adaptation of the NASCAR Next Gen car in 2022 has increased dramatically, and that trend continued during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

To put things in perspective, in 2021, there were just three drivers (Ryan Newman, Anthony Alfredo, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) that had eclipsed the 20 incident total for the season. Only three drivers (John Hunter Nemechek, Ryan Newman, and Christopher Bell) recorded 20 or more incidents in 2020 as well.

Eight drivers had 20 or more incidents in 2023, and in 2022 — the first season of the Next Gen — 14 drivers recorded 20 or more on-track incidents throughout the season.

While there have been a staggering amount of on-track incidents over the last two seasons, it should be noted that the ability to rebound after incidents early in a race was the catalyst for many drivers going on sustained runs in the Playoffs this year.

Of the eight drivers, who recorded more than 20 incidents during the 2023 season, Erik Jones and Championship 4 contender Christopher Bell led the way with 24 incidents.

Kyle Larson, another Championship 4 contender, recorded 23 on-track incidents this season, while NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney racked up 22 incidents during the year.

Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, and Brad Keselowski all had 21 incidents while Denny Hamlin ended the year with 20.

Of the 64 drivers that competed in a NASCAR Cup Series event in 2023, only seven drivers made it through the year without recording an incident, and none of the drivers that came out of the year incident-free competed in more than two races.

Anthony Alfredo (2 starts), Conor Daly (2 starts), Grant Enfinger (1 start), Gray Gaulding (1 start), Brodie Kostecki (1 start), Jordan Taylor (1 start), and Sheldon Creed (1 start) were the drivers that made it through the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season without tallying a single incident.

While Haley was the safest driver, overall, in 2023, Corey LaJoie was the lone full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver to make it through all 36 races without a single DNF.

LaJoie ended the season just shy of the 20 incident mark with 18. With a 0.500 incident per race ratio, it’s extremely impressive that LaJoie ended the year without a DNF.

Kevin Harvick and Chris Buescher recorded a single DNF, while Chase Briscoe had just two DNFs in 2023.

Toby Christie
Toby Christiehttps://tobychristie.com
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of TobyChristie.com. Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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