February 2022: Inside the Garage, 2022 NASCAR Cup Season Preview

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Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL — February 16, 2022

It’s Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 2022 Daytona 500. The drivers have assembled for Media Day and the storylines are plentiful. None more prevalent than what to expect from the new Next-Gen racecar.

Daytona International Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

Fox Sports will televise the 500 and they talked to a number of drivers about their impressions of the new car.

Driver Changes

You are likely to need a scorecard to keep track of all the changes in the NASCAR Cup Series for 2022. NASCAR by the numbers breaks down the lineup for this year’s “Great American Race.”

1-Ross Chastain, Chip Ganassi sold his race team to Trackhouse Racing, and Kurt Busch moved on, giving Chastain a shot at the Cup Series
2-Austin Cindric, moves up from the Xfinity Series, taking over for Brad Keselowski in the Team Penske Ford
3-Austin Dillon, Again, racing for grandpa’s Richard Childress Racing
4-Kevin Harvick, The senior statesman of the sport remains in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
5-Kyle Larson, the defending champion returns for year two at Hendrick Motorsports

NASCAR Cup Series Defending Champion Kyle Larson / Lasco Press Photo

6-Brad Keselowski, jumped ship from Penske to add his name to the ownership nameplate on the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford, unfortunately at the expense of Ryan Newman who is out of a Cup Series ride
7-Corey Lajoie, joins Spire Motorsports
8-Tyler Reddick, returns at Richard Childress Racing
9-Chase Elliott, NASCAR’s most popular driver is an institution at Hendrick Motorsports

Chase Elliott / Lasco Press Photo

10-Aric Almirola, 2022 will be his last year as the journeyman driver is retiring from the sport, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
11-Denny Hamlin, the three-time Daytona 500 winner is looking for number four again with Joe Gibbs Racing
12-Ryan Blaney, locked in racing the Team Penske Ford

Ryan Blaney’s #12 Ford Mustang / Lasco Press Photo

14-Chase Briscoe, looking for continuous improvement in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
15-Ryan Preece, gets a shot with Rick Ware Racing
16-Daniel Hemric, another Xfinity star moving up with Kaulig Racing
17-Chris Buescher, gets a new teammate and owner in the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford
18-Kyle Busch, is still looking for his first Daytona 500 victory, Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle Busch / Lasco Press Photo

19-Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR’s gentleman driver, Joe Gibbs Racing
20-Christopher Bell, the youngster at Joe Gibbs Racing
21-Harrison Burton, the former Xfinity driver joins Cup in the Wood Brothers Racing Ford
22-Joey Logano, the “kid” is now the senior member at Team Penske in his Ford Mustang
23-Bubba Wallace, year two in the Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin at 23XI Racing
24-William Byron, continuing to develop as Hendrick Motorsports next superstar
27-Jacques Villeneuve, the international racing veteran giving NASCAR a go in the Hezeberg Ford
31-Justin Haley, another young gun for Kaulig Racing
38-Michael McDowell, the defending Daytona 500 champion for Front Row Motorsports, driving a Ford Mustang
38-Todd Gilliland, joins teammate Michael McDowell at Front Row Motorsports Ford
41-Cole Custer, looking to improve in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
42-Ty Dillon, After sitting out last year, Ty gets a ride with the new Petty GMS Motorsports
43-Erik Jones, year two with the ‘King” at Petty GMS Motorsports

Michigan Native Erik Jones / Lasco Press Photo

44-Greg Biffle, making a return to Cup racing with the NY Racing Team
45-Kurt Busch, no longer in the number 1 car, he’s Bubba’s teammate at 23XI Racing
47-Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
48-Alex Bowman, stability at Hendrick Motorsports
50-Kaz Grala, tries to qualify at Daytona for TMT Racing
51-Cody Ware, for Rick Ware Racing
55-JJ Yeley, Cup veteran with another shot driving, for Motorsports Business Management
62-Noah Gragson, for Beard Motorsports
66-Timmy Hill, teams with JJ Yeley at Motorsports Business Management
67-Landon Cassill, for Spire Motorsports
78 BJ McLeod, another journeyman driving the  Live Fast Motorsports Ford
99-Daniel Suarez, a beneficiary of the team Trackhouse Racing

Fan Reaction

NASCAR’s experiment with the Clash from the Los Angeles Coliseum was an outstanding success. Fans saw exciting racing and intense competition. That is the standard that embodies racing at Daytona, and the fans have responded. Coming out of the pandemic that has restricted fan activities at many racetracks, the Daytona 500 is a sellout. Not only has every seat sold but the infield is full and the Fan Zone is at maximum capacity.

The close competition expected from the Next-Gen car is sure to produce fan-pleasing action and could result in a surprise winner at this year’s opening points race of the season.

Schedule Changes

The 2022 season will officially kick off with the running of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500 – at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 20 live on FOX.

The Cup Series will then immediately head out West, beginning with a stop at Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 27 – the first time NASCAR will visit the high-speed two-mile oval in nearly two years – followed by Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 6) and Phoenix Raceway (March 13).

The Bristol Dirt Race returns to the schedule, this time under the lights on Easter Sunday Night (April 17). The NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race will also return to Texas Motor Speedway in 2022. The annual event featuring NASCAR’s biggest stars will shift to earlier in the season when festivities get underway on May 22.

After a natural off-week (June 19) following the conclusion of FOX Sports’ Cup Series coverage, Nashville Superspeedway will again kick off the NBC Sports portion of the schedule on June 26. The action in the Music City will immediately be followed by another fan favorite, Road America, which will highlight the Fourth of July festivities for the second consecutive season.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway, the two-mile track, for the 54th consecutive season. The FireKeepers Casino 400 will be held Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022.

Watkins Glen International will host the penultimate race of the regular season (Aug. 21) followed by an intense regular-season finale under the lights at Daytona International Speedway (Aug. 27) – two distinctly different but equally pivotal tracks in determining the NASCAR Playoffs field.

Homestead-Miami Speedway will return to the Playoff mix. The popular 1.5-mile destination track will be a key venue when it hosts the second of three Round of 8 races on Oct. 23. In addition, Texas (Sept. 25) and Las Vegas (Oct. 16) will swap dates and lead off the Round of 12 and Round of 8, respectively.

Kansas will move up in the Playoffs schedule, becoming the second race in the Round of 16 (Sept. 11).

2022 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

Date Race / Track
Sunday, February 6 Clash (L.A. Memorial Coliseum)
Thursday, February 17 Duel at Daytona
Sunday, February 20 DAYTONA 500
Sunday, February 27 Auto Club
Sunday, March 6 Las Vegas
Sunday, March 13 Phoenix
Sunday, March 20 Atlanta
Sunday, March 27 COTA
Sunday, April 3 Richmond
Saturday, April 9 Martinsville
Sunday, April 17 Bristol Dirt
Sunday, April 24 Talladega
Sunday, May 1 Dover
Sunday, May 8 Darlington
Sunday, May 15 Kansas
Sunday, May 22 All-Star (Texas)
Sunday, May 29 Charlotte
Sunday, June 5 World Wide Technology Raceway
Sunday, June 12 Sonoma
Sunday, June 26 Nashville Superspeedway
Sunday, July 3 Road America
Sunday, July 10 Atlanta
Sunday, July 17 New Hampshire
Sunday, July 24 Pocono
Sunday, July 31 Indianapolis Road Course
Sunday, August 7 Michigan
Sunday, August 14 Richmond
Sunday, August 21 Watkins Glen
Saturday, August 27 Daytona
2022 Playoff Races
Sunday, September 4 Darlington
Sunday, September 11 Kansas
Saturday, September 17 Bristol
Sunday, September 25 Texas
Sunday, October 2 Talladega
Sunday, October 9 Charlotte Roval
Sunday, October 16 Las Vegas
Sunday, October 23 Homestead-Miami
Sunday, October 30 Martinsville
Sunday, November 6 Phoenix

 

The Lasco Press will be at Daytona International Speedway with “Live Coverage” all week. For additional photos see the Facebook link