NASCAR 2022: What we’ve learned this season and what to expect the rest of the way

This season greater than another, the NASCAR Cup Sequence has been a marathon. The Cup collection hasn’t stopped for the Daytona 500 in February now, with Saturday and Sunday the one weekend exterior of the 2022 season. After that, it will be continuous motion from Nashville in late June all the way in which to the championship race in Phoenix in November.

This one time restrict means it is one probability for drivers and crews to reset and activate. There at the moment are ten races left till the tip of the common season, after which the season might be determined by the 10-race playoffs within the fall. With that in thoughts, let’s revisit the season to date, together with a few of its key themes and the way they might help outline the remainder of subsequent season.

parity prevails

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Normally the chosen driver or group of drivers will distinguish themselves from the remainder of the sector and start to retailer the positive factors at this level. However in 2022 there was a break not solely from this development, but in addition from the employees acquainted to common guests of Victory Lane.

  • With 16 races to date, a complete of 12 completely different drivers have received the race.
  • Among the many repeat winners – William Byron, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano – nobody has received greater than twice.

The season to date looks as if a pure results of the shift away from the deal with the factors race and in the direction of the deal with profitable. Reaching a win and incomes a playoff berth is extra necessary to a Cup Sequence championship than storing a High 5 or High 10, and drivers and groups have adjusted accordingly over the 9 seasons for the reason that present complement format was adopted in 2014.

Positive, final season was very aggressive at this level too – 11 drivers received over 16 races in 2021 – however what makes this yr completely different is the drivers who received a race…and the higher variance within the drivers who received argued for the win.

Pushing aside acquainted faces as Martin Truex Jr. And Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski within the winner’s circle had been 4 first-time winners Austin Cendrick, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Moreover, drivers resembling Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bubba Wallace, Tyler Riddick, Austin Dillon and Eric Jones have all competed for victories within the final laps of the races this season.

Given {that a} choose spherical of drivers monopolized the winner’s circuit not too way back – do you keep in mind the ‘Large Three’ season in 2018 or did Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominate 2020? 2022 has to date introduced a dramatic departure from the aggressive steadiness of motor racing.

Monitor Home Rise

Talking of aggressive imbalance, the winner’s circle is now not the unique area of names like Hendrick, Gibbs and Penske. After being a rookie who confirmed some hope in 2021, Trackhouse Racing took an enormous leap in yr two.

The forward-thinking racing crew, owned by former driver Justin Marks and world star Pitbull, has already received three races this season, tying them up with Joe Gibbs Racing and Staff Penske in second place. Trackhouse’s rise was an entire departure from the established order, as it has been a really very long time since a brand new group rose to the extent of a better cup crew so shortly. What makes that much more spectacular is how Trackhouse does it with Chastain and Suarez – two budding teammates – as drivers.

Trackhouse has taken the lead amongst a brand new era of racing groups which have benefited from NASCAR’s Subsequent Era platform. His second teammate of the yr 23XI Racing additionally received this yr, with Kurt Busch driving considered one of their vehicles to victory in Kansas. In the meantime, Kaulig Racing got here near profitable the Circuit of the Americas with AJ Allmendinger.

What’s subsequent for the subsequent era?

The final time NASCAR debuted an all-new race automobile was in 2007, and Kyle Busch reacted to profitable the first-ever race of the Automobiles of Tomorrow then along with his well-known declaration “I am unable to stand to drive it, it is unhealthy.” 15 years later, the reception of the most recent and biggest automotive expertise accessible could not be extra completely different.

The following-generation automobile was broadly praised in its first season with a number of thrilling races on quite a lot of racetracks, validating the work that NASCAR did to develop the automobile and its corresponding technical programme. In comparison with the extremely secure however extremely flight-sensitive Gen6 (derived from the Automotive of Tomorrow), the next-generation automobile made for a tougher automobile for drivers and extra thrilling racing for followers – particularly over the mile and a half. The tracks, which immediately turned action-packed affairs.

Nonetheless, the efficiency of the next-generation automobile on quick tracks – particularly Martinsville – was not passable. And as a way to enhance racing on quick tracks, NASCAR might find yourself making some modifications to the automobile by eradicating the rear diffuser for brief tracks, Concept being examined heading in the right direction subsequent week. In concept, this could make rear vehicles much less delicate to turbulent air and enhance drivers’ means to cross and run in shut quarters. That is particularly necessary in Martinsville, which hosts each the penultimate race of the season and the elimination race that determines Championship 4.

match anxiousness

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Traditionally, drivers who considerably exceed the qualifying line in factors and factors alone can earn a watershed level even when they don’t win race 26. This yr, no driver in that place can or ought to assume that is a assure.

With 12 winners to date, drivers who’re at present in qualifying on factors are being made to really feel much less and fewer secure. Regardless of being fourth and sixth within the factors standings respectively, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr are thirteenth and 14th on the qualifying grid by advantage of their lack of wins. And Daniel Suarez’s win at Sonoma meant that Kevin Harvick, the common season champion two years in the past, crashed beneath the slicing line.

Given the variety of completely different winners this yr and the standard of drivers who have not but received, there’s an expectation that profitable could be the one manner for anybody to safe a playoff place. Within the occasion that there are greater than 16 completely different winners, even that is probably not sufficient, which might result in jitters in July and August for drivers like Chase Briscoe, Suarez, Austin Sindrick and Kurt Busch – all of whom left Sonoma with lower than 400 factors.

For note-keeping functions, the report for many completely different winners in a cup season was set in 2001, when 19 drivers in whole visited Victory Lane. That season, 14 completely different drivers had 26 race wins, which means there have been solely two spots accessible on factors within the playoff format.