Next Gen car exceeding expectations through 1st half of the 2022 Cup season, a look at the stats

The introduction of the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen car has been exceeding expectations as the series has reached the halfway point of the 36-race schedule. The 2022 season has produced 13 different winners, including five first-time winners, in the first 18 races.

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick became the 203rd different race winner in NASCAR Cup Series history with his first series career victory last weekend at Road America. Now the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is tied with 2001, 2002, and 2011 for the most first-time winners in a single season in the Modern Era (1972-2022) with five each.

This season’s first-time winners include Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (Daytona 500), Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (Phoenix), Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (COTA) and Daniel Suárez (Sonoma) and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick (Road America).  This weekend, the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway with nine different drivers entered in the Quaker State 400 looking for their first career Cup win.

If there is another first-time winner this weekend at Atlanta, it will be the 23rd time the NASCAR Cup Series has seen back-to-back first-time winners; most recently, last season when Michael McDowell (Daytona) and Christopher Bell (Daytona Road Course) opened up the year with two first-time winners.  

It’s a wonderful time to be competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, the last decade of Cup racing (2013-2022) has produced 21 of the 203 first-time winners in the series:

Cup First-Time Winners (2014-2022)TrackDate
Tyler ReddickElkhart LakeSunday, July 3, 2022
Daniel SuárezSonomaSunday, June 12, 2022
Ross ChastainAustinSunday, March 27, 2022
Chase BriscoePhoenixSunday, March 13, 2022
Austin CindricDaytonaSunday, February 20, 2022
Bubba WallaceTalladegaMonday, October 4, 2021
Christopher BellDaytona RCSunday, February 21, 2021
Michael McDowellDaytonaSunday, February 14, 2021
William ByronDaytonaSunday, August 29, 2021
Cole CusterKentuckySunday, July 12, 2020
Justin HaleyDaytonaSunday, July 7, 2019
Alex BowmanChicagoSunday, June 30, 2019
Chase ElliottWatkins GlenSunday, August 5, 2018
Erik JonesDaytonaSaturday, July 7, 2018
Ryan BlaneyPoconoSunday, June 11, 2017
Austin DillonCharlotteSunday, May 28, 2017
Ricky Stenhouse JrTalladegaSunday, May 7, 2017
Kyle LarsonMichiganSunday, August 28, 2016
Chris BuescherPoconoMonday, August 1, 2016
AJ AllmendingerWatkins GlenSunday, August 10, 2014
Aric AlmirolaDaytonaSunday, July 6, 2014

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series in 1949, the 1950 season holds the record for the most first-time winners in a single season with 12 followed by the 1956 season with 10 different winners.

The all-time most different winners in an entire NASCAR Cup Series season are 19 different race winners in a single season and it has happened four times – 1956 (56 race season), 1958 (51 race season), 1961 (52 race season) and 2001 (Modern Era: 36 race season).   

But that’s not all, diving into the Loop Data we can see the racing has been action-packed upfront and throughout the field almost each and every weekend. 

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has also produced 844 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL); which are the series-most through the first 18 races of a season since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (the last 16 seasons). A total of eight different tracks have set records in green flag passes for the lead this season; including Circuit of The Americas (30 GFPL), Atlanta Motor Speedway (141 GFPL), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (57 GFPL), Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt (20 GFPL) Darlington Raceway (28 GFPL), Kansas Speedway (41 GFPL), Charlotte Motor Speedway (64 GFPL) and Nashville Superspeedway (47 GFPL).

Last weekend Road America became the fifth track this season to set a track record in total green flag passes throughout the field; joining Atlanta (6,439), Richmond (3,072), Bristol Dirt (2,703) and Nashville (2,470). The NASCAR Cup Series Road America race produced 2,080 total green flag passes throughout the field this season, up +36.1% from the 2021 Road America Cup race with 1,528 green flag passes. The Road America race was also the 10th event this season with a positive year-over-year percentage difference in total green flag passes. The 2022 season has amassed a total of 60,002 green flag passes through the first 18 races. 

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 20: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 20, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a reconfiguration in the offseason narrowing the racing surface and raising the degree of banking in the Turns to 28 degrees. The results of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta back in March set track records in number of leaders (20 different drivers), lead changes (46), green flag passes for the lead (141) and total green flag passes throughout the field (6,439). 

Earlier this season, Hendrick Motorsports’ driver William Byron scored his first win of the 2022 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway extending the organization’s series record wins total at the 1.54-mile facility to 15 victories. Heading into the 19th race of the season this weekend, Byron has the opportunity to become the 12th different driver to win consecutive races at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining Marvin Panch (1965 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), David Pearson (1973 sweep), Richard Petty (1974-75), Cale Yarborough (1980-81), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep, 1992 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1989-90; 1995-96), Bobby Labonte (1997-98), Jeff Gordon (1998-99), Carl Edwards (2005 sweep) and Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep; 2015-16).

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain finished runner-up to Byron earlier this season at Atlanta, and this weekend and he expects the racing to be exactly what the fans are looking for.

“”It’s full superspeedway style, think of Daytona and Talladega,” said Chastain. “We need our car to be very efficient in the air and the least amount of drag and still have grip, and not be too loose or tight.”

No practice this weekend, so all the NASCAR Cup Series on-track action will kick off with Busch Light Pole Qualifying from 11:35 a.m. ET to 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 9. The qualifying session will be live on the NBC Sports App at 11:30 a.m. ET or on the USA Network at 12 p.m. ET.     

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