Next Gen car leveled NASCAR field in 2022, possibly beyond

Dan Smith

The most meticulously engineered and thoroughly controlled race car in NASCAR history has leveled the field in 2022.

The so-called next-generation car produced 19 different winners over 36 races. Among them are five newbies and his two men who earned their first shot at the championship in his finale of the season. It provided a more exciting race on most tracks and may have helped improve spectator numbers and television ratings.

An unpredictable season ended with a familiar man at Phoenix lifting the trophy, but Joey Logano won his second title with Team Penske — It also showed that anyone can win in the top series of stock car racing.

The biggest teams, the most well-funded teams, didn't have the clear advantage they had in decades. Even the best drivers didn't have a big advantage.

Victory depended not only on tuning and experience, but also on timing and luck. Whether that carries over to 2023 remains to be seen. But a redesigned car could help bring more national relevance and better long-term stability to one of racing's most popular series.

“Before this year[and]next generation cars, if you wanted to be in this sport you had to be associated with one of the five race teams. said NASCAR President Steve Phelps in November. "This car changed that."

Phelps noted a connection between the car's styling and what came off the Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota assembly lines.He noted the car's risquility, saying it had more passes in the Cup Series than in any previous season. claimed to be a matter Regarding Crash.

“This car has a steep learning curve this year,” said Logano crew chief Paul Wolfe. "It's completely different from what we've obviously used before. …A lot of the things we've done in the past don't really work with this car."

Logano and Wolfe figured it out before anyone else, tying for the series-high five wins when counting Clash's season opener at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

"Boy, this year has been an adventure, to say the least," said Logano. "It's kind of crazy to think about it all. It's been a rough year. A lot of the time I felt lost. It's about realizing we've lost together. One way to stay confident is when you know other people are losing too."

the biggest surprise

Ross Chastain finished second behind Logano. This was a breakthrough season for his eight-generation watermelon farmer in Florida. Chastain has achieved his 15 top-five finishes leading the series in his upstart Trackhouse Racing. His 4th place result at Martinsville was hard to beat. He used his video game moves to overtake five of his cars in a matter of seconds. Earn the final standings of the title race.

biggest disappointment

Martin Truex Jr. went undefeated for the first time since 2014 and finished 17th overall. The 2017 series champion failed to make the playoffs for the third time in eight seasons and was considering his retirement before announcing his commitment to Joe Gibbs Racing in June. 2023.

top rookie

Austin Sindrick won the season-opening Daytona 500 and Team Penske finished 12th. He earned Rookie of the Year honors and is likely to have more success in his second full season, considering Logano is a teammate.

retirement age?

Aric Almirola had planned to retire from full-time racing at the end of 2022, but has had a change of heart and plans to return for another year. at Stewart Haas Racing. Will anyone join him to make 2023 a goodbye tour? Kevin Harvick expects to know if next season will be the last season before the Daytona 500 in February. What about Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Truex? This trio is certainly nearing the end of their Hall of Fame career.

one to watch

Kyle Busch's daring move to Richard Childress Racing and Tyler Reddick's long-awaited move to 23XI Racing will get a lot of attention in 2023, but AJ Allmendinger's cup at Kaurig Racing full-time return to the series Another notable one. Allmendinger has achieved his six top 10 finishes in his last eight cup races at Cowrig in 2022.


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