Will we see an 8th different winner for 2022 on Saturday night in Martinsville, a look at that and who the best short track racers are in NASCAR now

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin gave Toyota its first win of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and in the process kept the streak of different winners to start the season alive making the 2022 season the sixth different year in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Modern Era (1972-2022) to start with seven different drivers in Victory Lane; joining 2021, 2014, 2003, 2000 and 1991. 

Now the NASCAR Cup Series is heading to the historic Martinsville Speedway to see if the streak can make it to eight different winners. If the 2022 season sees an eighth different victor this weekend it will become just the third different season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) to start with eight different winners in the first eight races; joining 2003 and 2000. Last season, Martin Truex Jr. snapped the different winners streak to start the year by winning his second race of the 2021 season at Martinsville (Race No. 8).

2022 NASCAR Cup Series Season Recap:

 LocationPole WinnerRace WinnerPoints LeaderPts Lead
1DaytonaKyle LarsonAustin CindricAustin Cindric0
2Auto ClubAustin CindricKyle LarsonAustin Cindric8
3Las VegasChristopher BellAlex BowmanKyle Larson6
4PhoenixRyan BlaneyChase BriscoeJoey Logano4
5AtlantaN/A – WeatherWilliam ByronChase Elliott7
6COTARyan BlaneyRoss ChastainChase Elliott13
7RichmondRyan BlaneyDenny HamlinRyan Blaney0

The Modern Era record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10 set back in 2000. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. snapped the different winners streak by winning his second race of the 2000 season at Richmond (Race No. 11).

SeasonRace No.WinnersTrackDate
20001Dale JarrettDaytonaSunday, February 20, 2000
20002Bobby LabonteRockinghamSunday, February 27, 2000
20003Jeff BurtonLas VegasSunday, March 5, 2000
20004Dale EarnhardtAtlantaSunday, March 12, 2000
20005Ward BurtonDarlingtonSunday, March 19, 2000
20006Rusty WallaceBristolSunday, March 26, 2000
20007Dale Earnhardt JrTexasSunday, April 2, 2000
20008Mark MartinMartinsvilleSunday, April 9, 2000
20009Jeff GordonTalladegaSunday, April 16, 2000
200010Jeremy MayfieldAuto ClubSunday, April 30, 2000

The next longest streak of different winners to start a season in the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era belongs to 2003 with nine consecutive different winners. Kurt Busch snapped the streak of different winners by winning his second race of the 2003 season at Auto Club Speedway (Race No. 10).

SeasonRace No.WinnersTrackDate
20031Michael WaltripDaytonaSunday, February 16, 2003
20032Dale JarrettRockinghamSunday, February 23, 2003
20033Matt KensethLas VegasSunday, March 2, 2003
20034Bobby LabonteAtlantaSunday, March 9, 2003
20035Ricky CravenDarlingtonSunday, March 16, 2003
20036Kurt BuschBristolSunday, March 23, 2003
20037Ryan NewmanTexasSunday, March 30, 2003
20038Dale Earnhardt JrTalladegaSunday, April 6, 2003
20039Jeff GordonMartinsvilleSunday, April 13, 2003

In the Modern Era (1972-2021), the record for the most different NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in its entirety is 19 set back in 2001. The series has also seen a total of 18 different winners (second-most) in a single season twice – in 2002 and 2011. Last season, the series produced 16 different winners.

But what is even more impressive is the 2022 season has produced the closest finishes through seven races to start a season since the advent electronic scoring in 1993. The average Margin of Victory of the first seven races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is 0.458-second; the closest average Margin of Victory through the first seven races of a season since advent of electronic scoring in 1993; next closest was 2001 with 0.486-second. The 2022 season has six of the first seven races concluding with a Margin of Victory of less than a second – just the second time since 1993 it has occurred joining 2001. 

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – APRIL 03: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, races William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, in the closing laps of the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 03, 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

2022 has also produced the most passes for the lead during green flag racing since the statistic was invented in 2007; up 136% year-over-year through seven races. Through the first seven races the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced a total of 387 green flag passes for the lead; the most through the first seven races since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (the last 16 seasons). Plus, the 2022 season is up 136% in a year-over-year comparison in green flag passes for the lead – 2021 (164) and 2022 (387).

And on top of all that, the Next Gen car keeps setting new track records in passing providing more action for fans during races. The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has set three track records in green flag passes for the lead – producing more green flag passes for the lead than ever before at Las Vegas (57), Atlanta (141) and Circuit of the Americas (30).

Circuit of The Americas also produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for green flag passes for the lead on road course-type tracks with 30 green flag passes for the lead. The previous record for total green flag passes for the lead on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course with 22 green flag passes for the lead in 2021.

Atlanta Motor Speedway produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for green flag passes for the lead on 1.5-mile tracks with 141 green flag passes for the lead. The previous record for green flag passes for the lead on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Texas Motor Speedway with 57 green flag passes for the lead in 2019.

Then this past week the NASCAR Cup Series set the all-time track record for the most total green flag passes throughout the field during a race at Richmond Raceway with 3,072 total passes throughout the field during green flag conditions. It was also the most total green flag passes on a short track since the stat has been tabulated in 2007.

Short Track Showmen

Since the first NASCAR Cup Series season in 1949, short tracks – a track less than a mile in length – have graced the competitive schedule and been part of the fabric that makes up the sport.

NASCAR Hall of Famer aptly nicknamed ‘The King,’ Richard Petty scored 138 of his record 200 NASCAR Cup Series victories on short tracks – the series-most short-track wins all-time. He also holds the record for the most wins at a single NASCAR Cup Series track posting 15 victories at this weekend’s venue – Martinsville Speedway and North Wilkesboro.

Among the active drivers this weekend, 10 have posted wins on short tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with 16 short-track Cup victories. Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the only driver to win at all four of the currently active short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with his victory last season at Bristol Dirt.

Active Short Track WinnersTotalMartinsvilleRichmondBristolBristol Dirt
Kyle Busch162680
Denny Hamlin115420
Kurt Busch102260
Brad Keselowski72230
Kevin Harvick71330
Joey Logano61221
Martin Truex Jr63300
Alex Bowman21100
Kyle Larson20110
Chase Elliott11000

Seven of the 10 active NASCAR Cup Series short track winners entered this weekend are looking for their first victory of 2022, and all seven are former winners at Martinsville – Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and the track’s defending spring race winner Martin Truex Jr.

Additionally, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to win in all three NASCAR national series at Martinsville Speedway (NCS: 2011, NXS: 2006, NCWTS: 2009, 2010, 2012) and the only active driver with an Xfinity win at the track. Five other drivers entered this weekend have won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway – 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace has two wins (2013, 2014), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012) and Kyle Busch (2016, 2019) each have two wins, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott has one Truck win (2017) and Team Penske’s Joey Logano also has one win (2015).

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. has won the last two consecutive Martinsville Speedway NACAR Cup Series spring races. In total, Truex has made 32 series starts at Martinsville posting one pole, three wins (2019, 2020, 2021), nine top fives and 15 top 10s. He has also led 1,016 laps at the Paperclip shaped track.

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