The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is in the rearview mirror, but some drivers aren't going to forget how rough the season was. Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are both looking forward to 2024 after having the worst seasons of their respective careers.
Elliott missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboard accident following the second race of the season at Auto Club Speedway. He then missed a seventh race after being suspended for purposely wrecking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.
He failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. In addition, he went winless for the first time since the 2017 season.
Bowman also missed races — due to a back injury — but never could find any consistency all season once he returned from the injury.
The other two Hendrick drivers, William Byron and Kyle Larson, were able to reach the Championship 4.
Elliott talked about his struggles all season prior to the finale at Phoenix, and he addressed what he and his team have to do better in 2024.
"Been some times of being decent, but you know, for the most part, been certainly not what I expect of myself and what we expect of our team," Elliott told NASCAR.com. "So yeah, a lot of room for improvement, and we intend to do a lot of that going into next year. ... It all needs to be better."
Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson both had their moments this season. In fact, it looked in many cases as if they weren't on the same page, which typically spells the end of a driver-crew chief pairing. That doesn't seem to be the case going into 2024.
As for Bowman, he and crew chief Blake Harris were able to start 2023 pretty strong for a first-time pairing. They started with a top 5 point standing through the first six weeks of the season.
It all came to a screaming halt when the No. 48 team received a 100-point penalty after the Richmond Race in April. Then his back injury only wrecked what was looking to be a possible breakout season for the seven-time Cup race winner.
Bowman seems to have grown a lot from all the trials and tribulations this season, and he hopes to use that knowledge in 2024. He shared plenty of optimism for next season with NASCAR.com.
"We've had a lot of highlights, at least throughout the years," Bowman said about winning at least one race in the previous four seasons. "And this year, there haven't been many of those other than leading the points at the beginning of the year. So, it's definitely been tough, but I feel like we've got a really good group. And I've learned a lot as a person on kind of how to handle some of those things, and yeah, definitely grown from it, for sure."
Both can reset with the season now having ended. And given how successful both have been in the past, 2024 will likely be a much better year for both Bowman and Elliott.
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