Top 5 storylines for 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season

NASCAR Furthers Shifts To A New Era

Heading into Speedweeks this year feels a lot like it did in 2001. It just feels different. Not necessarily a bad different. Far from it in fact. It feels bigger. Better. Improved. Like NASCAR is on the verge of a massive breakout in fact.

The Clash was a risk but one that paid dividends. They had over 50k in attendance, 70% as first time ticket buyers for the sport. They also saw a 168% increase in TV viewership for the race. Over 3 million more people tuned into this year’s clash from last.

I mean you get that as part of a drastic shift in the way that these races are scheduled. Between new venues, new dates and a completely different way of thinking, NASCAR’s season has greatly changed between 2019 to 2020 to 2021 from 2020 and now from 2021 to 2022.

The way these race weekend’s look also is different. We don’t need two full days of practice, a qualifying round sprinkled in there then a race only on Sunday. While practice and qualifying will return, it will be on a vastly limited basis in terms of track time.

Tracks are different so are race weekends.

That’s not the only areas that they’re shifting in. They’re doing so on the competition side too. A new car rolls out in 2022. That’s another big change. Arguably the biggest of all. New ways for pit stops, new ways to set up a car, new ways to race it. New number placement. This will be entirely different.

Also, we have a lot of new teams in the fold now too.

2021 saw Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin form 23XI Racing. They joined Pitbull and Justin Marks (Trackhouse Racing) and BJ McLeod/Matt Tifft (Live Fast Racing) as the new teams on the block.

This season rolls out a second team now for both 23XI Racing and Trackhouse. In fact, Trackhouse got a second team when they bought out Chip Ganassi Racing all together. Kaulig Racing moves up with one full time car and a second one that’s chartered but with multiple drivers sharing it. GMS Racing also moves up to Cup and bought a majority stake into Richard Petty Motorsports while doing so. So does Team Hezeberg with a partnership with Reaume Brothers as well as Floyd Mayweather’s new team as well.

That’s eight new Cup teams in a two year span with people like Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather and Pitbull as owners. What’s next?

“The makeup is going to continue to change,” Steve Phelps said. “You look at the Cup Series, you’ve got Kaulig that’s coming up, you’ve got Justin with two charters that he has bought. It’s going to continue. Lots of other things that are rumored to be happening with additional changes.

“I think it’s good for our sport, I really do. I think it’s healthy to infuse it not just with new fans but new ownership, new brands that are coming into the sport. We’re seeing all those things.”

Brad Keselowski has left Team Penske and bought into Roush Fenway Racing which could spark a new trend of veteran drivers buying into new teams. Hamlin, Tifft, Marks and Keselowski have all done it. Who’s next?

The reason they’re doing this is to control their future. These guys are racers and don’t want to go out of the sport. But, with new drivers coming through the ranks and it shifting to the need to bring money with you, it’s forcing these veteran drivers out. They’re having to take pay cuts when they should be getting raises. So, the next logical step?

Control your own destiny by having your own team.

With that said, I sense we’re going to have more turnover soon. I mean, who thought Chip Ganassi would sell himself completely out of the sport? He never thought it would happen either but the need that Trackhouse had and the money they had available, they made Ganassi and offer he couldn’t refuse.

Who else could be willing to follow Ganassi’s path?

These charters have allowed team owners like Ganassi and others to have a buyout price tag to at least recoup some money to take with them when they leave the sport. It has to have owners like Richard Petty or Richard Childress or even the Wood Brothers wondering if they should follow suit. I mean, what’s their next path?

We know Hendrick Motorsports now has Jeff Gordon and Chad Knaus up next. Joe Gibbs Racing as the Gibbs family to take over. Team Penske has Tim Cindric and others in place. Stewart-Haas has Tony Stewart, Greg Zipadelli and even Gene Haas is still young.

It’s these others that are searching for that next step or having to make the choice to sell or not. With new teams wanting to come into the sport and needing charters to really make it a viable option, if you ever thought of getting out and making a financial gain while doing so, nows the time.

I mean, on track for the drivers standpoint, the changing of the guard has already happened.

Jimmie Johnson is retired. So is Clint Bowyer. They followed recent notable drivers like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, etc as big named drivers to walk away from the sport in recent years. That has also caused a shift in the series and a changing of the guard per say.

Chase Elliott’s win and championship in 2020 at Phoenix and Johnson’s final race which sparked the two having a nice moment on track after, is the image that comes to mind for this changing of the guard. I mean, think about it, Johnson takes his 83 wins and seven championships with him to usher out the old and Elliott’s earns his first title and usher in the new era. Kyle Larson followed it up next.

From Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon to Jimmie Johnson/Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Chase Elliott/Kyle Larson?

Elliott, is now a champion and a four time defending Most Popular Driver of the Year award recipient. This is his NASCAR now. The shadows of the past are gone. Can he take this new era of NASCAR to bigger depths again?

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 31: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 31, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In this new era of NASCAR is one that’s promoting more parity too. With Johnson now gone from the sport on a full time basis, Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) is the only driver left with more than one championship to his credit. Kurt Busch (2004), Keselowski (2012), Harvick (2014), Truex Jr. (2017), Logano (2018), Elliott (2020) and Larson (2021) each have one. That’s it. That’s the list. Combined, that’s nine championships in the Cup Series driver lineup in 2022. Johnson, had seven all by himself.

You’d also notice that a recent theme in the playoff format that we’ve had seven different champions in the eight year era. No longer does the driver with the most wins necessarily take home the title. Just three times in the eight year playoff era format has the driver with the most wins actually won the title in the same season including this season. Kevin Harvick won nine times in 2020 and 13 times over the 2020 and 2019 combined and didn’t take home any championship hardware to show for it. Denny Hamlin also had also won 13 races, two of which being the 2019 and 2020 Daytona 500’s, in the same span and he also is 0-for-2 in championships won since the start of the 2019 season.

It’s all about positioning yourself for the playoffs and getting hot at the right moment. Hamlin did that last year. He was 0-for-26 in the regular season then 2-for-4 to start the postseason.

Also, Harvick, Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are getting more and more company for the Championship 4 spots now too. Prior to 2020, it was basically a shoe in to include this trio and a fourth into the final round. In 2020, neither made it while 2 of the 3 missed out again this season. Last year was just the second time ever that Harvick and Busch each failed to make the Championship 4 as Harvick’s only other year that he didn’t was in 2015 and Busch’s 2014. Truex missed the Championship 4 for the first time since 2016.

Elliott, meanwhile has won 14 times in four years and went from three straight Round of 8 exits to the final round and a championship in 2020 and in 2021.

Joey Logano, has two Championship 4 appearances (2018, 2020) in four years and Round of 8 (2019, 2021) in the other two. Hamlin has three final round appearance in as many years. Ryan Blaney showed flashes of speed in 2020 and 2021 with him now having made the Round of 8 in 3 of the last 5 years. Alex Bowman and William Byron are improving while Kyle Larson is a true threat now.

The past years of Busch, Harvick and Truex being a Sharpie to the Championship 4 are gone. It’s why NASCAR is more wide open than ever before with a changing of the guard occurring.

One could make a case that Elliott, Larson, Byron, Bowman, Logano and Blaney are here to stay.

From new tracks, to new dates for those said tracks, to new look race weekends, to a new car with new number placement to this new playoff format that was adopted in 2017, to stage racing, etc, NASCAR is further shifting further from the past and more into the future.

“The first time I had the opportunity to do this was in 2018 in Miami,” Phelps said on the Friday at Phoenix Raceway during his fourth end-of-season session with reporters. At that particular point, the sport was going through some challenges, some headwinds, right? Those were real. I think we felt that.

“I remember using the phrase that our best days are ahead. I’m not sure everyone in this room or folks around the country, (or the) world, believed that to be true. I did. I think the results that we have seen are more than encouraging. I’m very proud of them, right?

“It really took an industry coming together in order to make that happen. It took race teams, our broadcast partners, our sponsors, tracks that we own or tracks that we don’t own, that all came together to create an opportunity for our sport to grow, which is exactly what’s happening.”

Emblematic of that growth is the continuity of NASCAR’s presence on television, a reflection of the sanctioning body’s agility in completing a full 36-race 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule despite the complications of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are the most stable sport on television since 2018,” Phelps asserted. “No other sport—none—can match what NASCAR has done from a stability standpoint with our ratings. If you consider our share numbers since 2019 in our Cup Series, it’s up 18 percent, which is hard to do at this point. It’s just hard.

“Then you look at our ratings for Xfinity and our Camping World Truck Series, they’re up double-digits. The share in both of those series is up 25 percent to 30 percent. We are having a moment as a sport. It’s important that we keep it going, which is exactly what we’re going to do.”

The Clash was up 168%. This is a new NASCAR. It almost feels like 2001 all over again with all the hype coming into the green flag at Daytona.

“I said it all along, this isn’t the Next Gen car, this is Next Gen NASCAR,” Joey Logano said. “Everything is different.”



How Much Does The New Car Change The Racing?

This is the obvious one. All three current manufacturers will roll out new cars for this season as it began for the new look Busch Clash in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. While that was this car’s debut, it wasn’t truly one that we’ll get any indication on for how the rest of the season will play out.

We’ve never been to a track like this before so comparison to past notes is irrelevant. Plus, it’s not like this was a true normal distance with a full field. It was a field of a little over 20 cars going at speeds greatly slower than any other place we’ll run this season.

While by all accounts that everything went well that weekend, the true test begins in Daytona.

The thing is, no one fully knows what to expect out of this new car yet still as we enter Speedweeks.

Will the heat be a factor inside of these cars? Will the speeds be slower? Will the steering fully have been corrected? Will the handling be better or worse? Will it be harder or easier to pass? Will this car keep being developed and built as the season goes on?

“We don’t know what to expect,” Denny Hamlin said. “It’s going to be a bunch of changes. To me it’s going to be like the Car of Tomorrow. The bigger car change we’ve had in years past.

“I don’t know how we’re going to prepare. I’m trusting the team to really kind of guide the ship in the right direction.”

Does he throw away his past notebooks?

“Oh, all of it. There won’t be much that will correlate from that car to this one.”

Chase Elliott agreed.

“Yeah, I don’t know until we kind of get going and see how the dynamic works,” he said. “But to me there’s a lot of unknowns about the car and I haven’t really spent a lot of time reading into it yet, so we’ll see.”

What we do know is that everything is going to change though. From pit stops, to how the car is raced, to gearing, to the tires, to everything in between, any past stats you see now, well you can essentially throw them out the window. They don’t mean diddly squat anymore because this car is really going to change the way these drivers race these tracks as well as these cars now.

This is going to be a big storyline all season.




TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 04: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, and Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, during the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 04, 2021 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


Will Parity Return?

To further the point above, how much margin will be between the top teams and the other teams next season? We saw a lot of early season parity in the sport last year and the hope is for more in the years to come. The first seven races saw a different driver victorious. In fact, by time we got to the Month of May, we saw 10 different drivers already having won a race in the first 11 events of  the 2021 season. In total, 17 different drivers won the 36 races this past year. Does that same sense of parity transfer over to this season?

Depends on whom you talk to. With everyone having new cars, everyone has the same stuff. See, in the past, these smaller teams could purchase older equipment from the bigger teams. Now, they don’t have that luxury. Everyone has the same car. In turn, you have to have the manpower to put it all together, which means once that car is built, it’s a level playing field across the board.

The thing about that is, do the smaller teams have the ability to replicate what the bigger ones are doing with the cars? The bigger teams are always in the search and pursuit of speed. Does an equal car come down to who has the most resources to make it go faster?

I mean the parity this season was due to this being the final year of this car and everyone having several years of innovation to it and able to maximize everything you can out of it. Now, we start back over with everyone having the same stuff.

Some feel like it evens the playing field while other say it caters to the bigger teams.

Without past notes to go off of to start the year off with, I have a sense that 2022 will be just as wild as 2021 due to the fact that there’s no real advantage yet.

Toyota won 19 of the 36 races run in 2019 and took three of the four spots in the Championship 4. But, even with the same car back in 2020, they slipped. Teams adapted in the offseason. Toyota’s won just nine times in 2020 and put only one car in the final round this time around. It wasn’t the fact that they necessarily fell back, it was the fact that they didn’t develop further up and Chevrolet and Ford caught them.

Ford’s won 18 times in 2020, Chevrolet nine.

In 2021, Chevy took the advantage with earning 19 wins. Toyota was next with 10. Ford had 7.

In 2020, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports won 34 of the 36 points paying races. They took all four of the Championship 4 spots too.

In 2019, the same four teams won 33 of the 36 races run. They also took all four Championship 4 spots again. In 2018, they won 31 of the 36 races. Furniture Row Racing with a JGR alliance won four times that year which if you count them in this mix, that’s 35 of 36 races.

Last year, we had eight different organizations winning, three of which were their first time. We also saw three total first time driver winners and two more scoring their second.

Coming into last season, Chip Ganassi Racing had won three times since 2018. Kurt Busch won for them in Atlanta. Richard Childress Racing had won twice over the last three years too. Spire’s upset win in the 2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400 with Justin Haley is the only other team to have won in the Cup Series since the start of the 2018 season.

Now you get 23XI Racing, Kaulig Racing and Front Row Motorsports to this list.

Other than Martin Truex Jr’s title with FRR in 2017, you have to go all the way back to Kurt Busch’s championship with Roush Fenway Racing in 2004 as the last team not named Gibbs, Stewart-Haas, Penske, or Hendrick to win a Cup championship.

Now, every team didn’t have to weigh on what areas to improve upon between last season and next or even try to find places to get speed following a year that you had it. See, that’s another part of the equation in the sense that it’s hard to improve when you’re already on top. It’s easy to find speed when the only direction to go is up.

Plus, with the new car coming out for 2022, how do you decide previously what areas to spend your money in? Why develop more speed in a car that’s going to be obsolete by the end of 2021? Wouldn’t it be better to save the costs for the new car?

Teams had to decide that which I feel like all correlates to Toyota dominating in 2019, Ford in 2020 and Chevrolet in 2021.

Now, it’s a blank slate again. Who’s going to come out on top?

I do think we’ll see some more first time winners as a result of that. We’ve had at least one first time victor each season since 2016. The last time we went a full year without someone earning their first trip to victory lane was back in 2015.

Since then, we’ve actually had two or more in six straight seasons. With that said, who will be the ones coming home victorious in 2022?

LEBANON, TENNESSEE – JUNE 19: Ross Chastain, driver of the #42 Clover Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 19, 2021 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Out of the full time drivers this season, 13 of them have yet to win a race in NASCAR’s premiere series. A few have legitimate odds of doing so this year. We saw Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace earn their maiden wins last year. Cole Custer and William Byron each won a race for the first time 2020. Alex Bowman and Justin Haley did so the year prior.

Who are this years?

Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Corey LaJoie, Matt DiBenedetto, Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric, Todd Gilliland and Cody Ware have each never won a Cup race before.

But to narrow this list down, you can almost certainly almost eliminate the rookies in Cindric, Burton and Gilliland. Nothing against them, but we’ve had just five rookie winners in the last 13 years combined.

I know one of which came just a couple of years ago by Cole Custer at Kentucky, but I just don’t see a legitimate path to bank on this happening. Custer, was the first rookie winner in a Cup race since Chris Buescher in 2016. Buescher, was the first since Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 triumph in 2011. That’s three times in 11 years.

Plus, Custer’s win was via some end of the race luck and cautions. Buescher’s was due to being in the lead when it started raining in Pocono. Same for Joey Logano’s back in 2009 in Loudon. Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne won on superspeedway’s. That’s it for rookie winners in the last 13 years.

The thing is though, Cindric may have the best rookie ride in that time frame. He’s taking over the No. 2 Ford with Team Penske and that car has won at least one race in every year since 2006. Does it go winless in 2022?

Reddick is inching closer and closer to victory lane and with this parity, I do think a victory happens next season. He’s had six top fives in two years in Cup to go along with improving his top 10’s from 9 to 15 and making the playoffs this past year.

Same can be said for the Trackhouse duo of Chastain and Suarez. The team looked stout in their first year and now they gain Ganassi’s resources too. Both seem like they’re on the cusp of something so I can make a case to where at least one of them wins in 2022.

Briscoe is also due and if SHR can figure this new car out quickly, he should also land in victory lane extending this streak out.

I can make a case that Cindric, Briscoe, Reddick and 1 of the Trackhouse drivers wins in 2022 and all doing so in the regular season. That’s 3 new playoff drivers again too and with saying that, who among the ones this year gets bumped out?




A Return To Practice And Qualifying

The teams and drivers will get more on track time in 2022 with NASCAR bringing back practice and qualifying. The thing is, it’s still not going to look how it did pre COVID. We’re not going to get three separate practice sessions and qualifying each weekend. There’s going to be drastically less.

Once we went back to racing at Darlington in May of 2020, NASCAR shifted away from the use of both practice and qualifying. With just trying to get the season not only restarted, but to get the full completion of it in after, they needed to make adjustments.

So, out went practice and qualifying for a number of reasons. Some of the main points were to eliminate the need of a backup car. Without that, you don’t need to bring as many people to the track anymore. That cuts down exposure between person-to-person contact. It also helps cut that down in the shop without the needs for crew members to prepare that said backup car back in the North Carolina shops before two cars hit the road on a hauler.

Plus, by eliminating practice and qualifying, you save the cost of hotel rooms and food for these teams. Single day shows mean they can fly in the day of the race and fly out after.

That in turn helps the budgets in the sense you prepare less cars, save money on parts, save money on the use of fuel and tires that you don’t need as much of, save on lodging and travel and can create less manpower on the road and back in the shops.

31 of the 32 races a year ago didn’t have qualifying. The only one that did was the Coca-Cola 600. All but eight races this season had practice and qualifying. The only ones that did was the Daytona 500, the season finale in Phoenix and all the new events that we’ve not yet been to before.

Now, we’ll go back to the way it used to be but only sort of. NASCAR has proven that these teams don’t need a lot of practice or qualifying to put on a good show. In fact, without it, it’s helped the racing in the sense that these big teams aren’t getting a ton of on track time prior to dial their cars in before the race. They’re having to adjust on the fly.

By virtue of that, simulators are being used to help with setups. Teams have found that even those aren’t truly accurate and sometime you just unload off. That’s helped create passing in the sense that not every week that you see every car nail the setup.

But, with a new car that’s going to drastically change the way that you race and with all past notebooks being shredded, NASCAR has allowed teams to practice and qualify again. This time, it’s just not as much time as before in order to save budgets.

“NASCAR is excited to return practice and qualifying to its race weekends,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “We missed seeing cars and trucks on track all weekend long, and so did our fans. We worked closely with our broadcast partners, teams and racetracks to create an exciting, unique qualifying format, while keeping several of the efficiencies that helped our entire industry successfully navigate the pandemic.”

In a majority of Cup Series races, the field will be split into two groups and participate in a two-hour practice and qualifying event. Some events — six Cup, five Xfinity and eight Truck — will also be classified as “expanded weekends.”

An expanded weekend includes one stand-alone, 50-minute practice (and the warm-up/practice that typically will precede qualifying next year will be eliminated). Only these expanded weekends will feature a practice that is separate from qualifying. 

EXPANDED WEEKENDS

One 50-minute practice in addition to on-track qualifying

NASCAR Cup Series: Daytona 500, Atlanta, Bristol Dirt, Gateway, Nashville, Phoenix-2

NASCAR Xfinity Series: Daytona, Atlanta, Portland, Nashville, Phoenix-2

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Daytona, Atlanta, Bristol Dirt, Knoxville, Sonoma, Mid-Ohio, Nashville, Phoenix-2

Note: It’s possible for an expanded weekend to apply to only one series. For example, at Sonoma, it will be an expanded weekend for the Truck Series and not the Cup Series.
 

NASCAR CUP SERIES

One-lap qualifying format

Tracks: Atlanta*, Auto Club , Charlotte Oval , Darlington , Gateway*, Kansas , Las Vegas , Miami, Michigan , Nashville*, New Hampshire , Phoenix*, Pocono , Texas

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • 15-minute warm-up/practice, separated into two groups
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group A) – single car, 1 lap
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group B) – single car, 1 lap
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round – single car, 1 lap

Two-lap qualifying format

Tracks: Bristol-2, Dover, Martinsville, Richmond 

Format

  • 15-minute warm-up/practice separated into two groups
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group A) – single car, 2 laps 
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group B) – single car, 2 laps 
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round – single car, 2 laps 

Superspeedway qualifying format

Tracks: Daytona 500*, Daytona-2, Talladega

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • Qualifying Round 1 – single car, 1 lap (all vehicles)  
    • Top 10 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round – single car, 1 lap

Road-course qualifying format

Tracks: Charlotte Roval, COTA, Indianapolis Road Course, Road America, Sonoma, Watkins Glen

Format

  • 20-minute warm-up/practice separated into two groups
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group A (15 minutes)
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group B  (15 minutes)
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round  (10 minutes)

Dirt qualifying

Track: Bristol Dirt (also an expanded weekend)

Format

  • Two 50-minute practice sessions
  • Four qualifying races to determine the field and lineup for the main race; order based on random draw

NASCAR Xfinity Series

One-lap qualifying format

Tracks: Atlanta-1*, Atlanta-2, Auto Club, Charlotte Oval, Darlington, Kansas, Las Vegas, Miami, Michigan, Nashville*, New Hampshire, Phoenix-1, Phoenix-2*, Pocono, Texas

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • 20-minute warm-up/practice for all cars
  • Qualifying (all cars) — single car, 1 lap

Two-lap qualifying

Tracks: Bristol-2, Dover, Martinsville, Richmond

Format

  • 20-minute practice/warm-up for all cars
  • Qualifying (all cars) – single car, 2 laps

Superspeedway qualifying

Tracks: Daytona-1*, Daytona-2, Talladega

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • Qualifying Round 1 – single car, 1 lap (all vehicles)  
    • Top 10 transfer to final round
  • Qualifying Final Round – single car, 1 lap

Road-course qualifying

Tracks: Charlotte Roval, COTA, Indianapolis Road Course, Portland*, Road America, Watkins Glen

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • 20-minute warm-up/practice – all cars
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group A (15 minutes)
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group B  (15 minutes) 
    • Top five transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round  (10 minutes)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

One-lap qualifying

Tracks: Atlanta-1*, Atlanta-2, Charlotte Oval, Darlington, Kansas, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville*, Phoenix-1, Phoenix-2*, Pocono, Texas

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • 20-minute warm-up/practice for all trucks
  • Qualifying (all trucks) – single truck, 1 lap

Two-lap qualifying

Tracks: Bristol-2, Dover, Martinsville, Richmond

Format

  • 20-min warm-up/practice for all trucks
  • Qualifying (all trucks) – single truck, 2 laps

Superspeedway qualifying

Tracks: Daytona-1*, Daytona-2, Talladega

Format 

  • Qualifying Round 1 – single car, 1 lap (all vehicles)
    • Top 10 transfer to final round
  • Qualifying Final Round – single car, 1 lap

Road-course qualifying

Tracks: COTA, Mid-Ohio*, Sonoma*

* denotes expanded weekend

Format

  • 20-minute warm-up/practice – all cars
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group A (15 minutes)
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1, Group B  (15 minutes)
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round (10 minutes)

Dirt qualifying

Tracks: Bristol Dirt, Knoxville

Format

  • Two 50-minute practice sessions
  • Four qualifying races determine the field and lineup for the main race, order based on random draw

No Rest For The Weary

There’s going to be a lot of tired eyes in the NASCAR garage as the season goes on this year. We’ll see 17 straight weeks of action to start the season off with including the All-Star race on May 22. The first and only break of the year comes between Sonoma (June 12) and Nashville (June 26). Once we get to Nashville in late June, there’s no more breaks. We’ll go 20 consecutive weeks to the finish.

You can rest assured that this is certainly going to take a toll on the drivers, teams and crews for this next season. 38 weekends between the Daytona 500 and Phoenix and 37 of them will feature racing.

Mix that with learning this new car and developing and building cars as well and you get what’s going to be a grueling season. Also factor in that we had the most offseason testing this past break between last year and this to go along with having to build and tweak these new cars and you get some folks that have worked around the clock for literally a calendar year by time we get to November.

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