NASCAR Season as It Stands

NASCAR Season as It Stands

24.10.2022: The 2022 NASCAR season has truly been one like no other with the introduction of the Next Generation car, revamped Goodyear tire packages and new teams and organizations emerging to the forefront. The Next Gen car made its debut on the short track of the


The 2022 NASCAR season has truly been one like no other with the introduction of the Next Generation car, revamped Goodyear tire packages and new teams and organizations emerging to the forefront.

 

The Next Gen car made its debut on the short track of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the annual Busch Light Clash, a 150 lap exhibition race won by Joey Logano.



Then, in what is unique to NASCAR, the serie’s and sports most recognizable event, the Daytona 500 was held next.  As opposed to nearly every other major sport in the world, NASCAR’s biggest weekend took place as the first point-earning regular season race and in the new Next Gen vehicle to boot. The ripple effects from Daytona are still reflected in the NASCAR odds this week. Imagine, hockey awarding the Stanley Cup or college basketball teams cutting down the nets to “One Shining Moment” in their first game…well this is the case with NASCAR.  


However, given Daytona’s configuration as a super speedway, the race has a penchant for producing first-time winners and drivers who may not necessarily go on to have stellar seasons.  The 2022 renewal of the Daytona Spring Race saw its usual share of carnage and wrecks before newcomer Austin Cindric guided his Number 2 car to victory lane.




New Names on the Rise


While the sport does include a number of recognizable and established teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske to name a few, the ascension of Trackhouse Racing has been a major storyline in the 2022 season.  Founded by former driver Justin Marks and the entertainer Pit Bull, the team had 1 car in play (the 99) in 2021 before acquiring the charter for another car, the number 1 to begin this season.



Now with 2 vehicles in its arsenal and drivers Ross Chastain (1 car), Daniel Suarez (99 car), Marks and Trackhouse seemed poised to take the series by storm.  The 2022 season started in pedestrian fashion for Chastain, an Alva, Florida native whose family is in the watermelon farming business.



 He posted a pair of finishes outside the top 25 at Daytona and Fontana before serving notice to the NASCAR world with a P3 showing in Las Vegas and runner-up finishes in both Phoenix and Atlanta.


With fans and betting experts alike now taking notice of Chastain who entered the 2022 campaign at over 100/1 to capture the season-long Cup,he delivered in a big spot, finishing before the rest to claim Trackhouse’s first-ever win at Circuit of the America’s (COTA) in Austin, Texas, the first road course the series visited this season.  



Chastain seemed destined for a mid-pack finish before final lap drama allowed him to slide through the leaders on the low side of the race track, escaping contact and capturing the win in dramatic fashion.



Suarez, the lone native of Mexico to drive fulltime in the series and in 2016 became the first non-American driver to capture a series title (Xfinity), began the season strong.  After top 10’s in Fontana, Phoenix and Atlanta, Suarez had only one other top 10, a 10th place finish at Darlington before rolling off the hauler in Sonoma in mid-June.  He managed to claim victory and cement his spot in the playoff 16.




Looking Ahead to the Playoffs



Speaking of the Playoff Field, given the new car and tire packages, the sport saw a great deal of parity in 2022 with 7 different drivers capturing the first seven events.  This can be attributed to the new tire packages and drivers feeling their way around familiar tracks in unfamiliar equipment.  


As the season progressed, no driver really dominated and won races in bunches as was the case in 2021 with Kyle Larson visiting victory lane 10 times.



In 2020, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin won 9 and 7 races respectively.  In 2022, Chase Elliott led all drivers with 4 wins while 7 others compiled 2.  In fact, past Cup champ Martin Truex Jr. who ranked an amazing 4th in total points was on the outside looking in of the playoffs because he failed to capture the checkers and doing so gave 15 drivers automatic berths.    




photo Nascar

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24.10.2022 / MaP

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