The stories that have been told through this year’s NASCAR Cup Series season have included everything from drivers’ criticism of the Next Gen car and their heated battles on the track, to video-game like moves and walk-off win’s that seemed impossible until they happened.
Joey Logano starred under the Team Penske spotlight as he drove his No. 22 Ford Mustang to victory at the Championship Four race at Phoenix Raceway in Arizona. But the early season involved a flurry of drivers trying to make their mark on the season, including rookie Austin Cindric, defending champion Kyle Larson and series veteran Kevin Harvick.
Trackhouse Racing entered the NASCAR garage as a force to be reckoned with, as Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez represented the team several times in victory lane. The conversation about safety developed over the season, essentially beginning with Kurt Busch’s season-ending crash at Pocono Raceway and continuing with injury announcements from drivers like Alex Bowman.
All in all, there were many storylines to follow, but here are SPEED SPORT’s 10 most popular NASCAR stories of the 2022 season.
Aric Almirola revealed Monday that he will retire following the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series season.
“I truly enjoy driving race cars and I’m excited to race my heart out in 2022 for Smithfield and Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Almirola. “But to be the best in this business, you’ve got to be selfish, and for the last 37 years my life has always revolved around me and what I needed to do. I want to be present. I want to be the best husband and father, and that to me means more than being a racecar driver. So, it’s one more year where I’m all in on racing, where we’ll do whatever it takes to compete at the highest level. But when the season is over, I’ll be ready to wave goodbye. I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s time for the next chapter of my life.”
But in August, Almirola postponed his retirement, announcing that he had signed a multi-year agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing.
It’s been more than a week since NASCAR dropped the hammer on RFK Racing with a massive L2-penalty after Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 team was found to have improperly modified something on the car that originated from a single-source supplier.
In that week, no one from NASCAR or RFK Racing has gone on the record to say exactly what RFK Racing did.
“Obviously must have been pretty, pretty severe for that type of penalty,” Kevin Harvick said last Saturday at Circuit of The Americas. “But, I know it’s a priority of the garage to try to keep this process clean. And it’s better for everybody if it’s clean.”
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Goodyear has had enough of the shenanigans of NASCAR Cup Series teams.
Two weeks after a rash of left-rear tire failures at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR’s official tire provider put out its weekly notice regarding tire info for the Coca-Cola 600 weekend. This time, Goodyear officials didn’t mince words when it came to its minimum tire pressure recommendations.
“’Recommended’ is more than a recommendation“ the notice began.
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Kyle Larson last won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway (Calif.) in February, where late-race contact with teammate Chase Elliott spurred a murky situation. On Sunday, it was déjà vu for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates at Watkins Glen International.
With five laps to go on the final restart, the two barreled into turn one side-by-side for the lead.
All Kyle Busch could ask for is a car to go race on Sundays. Well, that and a contract to do it.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is entering the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the 11th seed — a spot where plenty of drivers who didn’t make the cut would love to be — but he’s also managing some hefty worries off the race track.
“It weighs on you every time, every day of the week,” Busch said.
Two weeks after he was eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and one week after he was crashed out at Las Vegas by Bubba Wallace, Kyle Larson took his frustrations out on the field Sunday at Homestead, Florida.
It was sweet redemption for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who whipped the field into submission, leading 199 of the 267-lap race to score his third win of the 2022 season and the 19th Cup Series victory of his career.
For three hours on Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, NASCAR was able to do what it does best. That is: stage a competitive race, create an intriguing storyline and finish with a completely unexpected ending that few saw coming.
Leading into the race, however, NASCAR was embroiled in controversy, getting hammered from both the owners for an “unsustainable” business model and the drivers, who were part of a frank, open and intense safety discussion with NASCAR executives on Saturday morning.
For those who witnessed with their own eyes Ross Chastain’s incredible move from 10th to fifth in the final two corners of Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the reaction was stunning disbelief.
“Did I just see that? Am I hallucinating?”
In just its second season in existence, Trackhouse Racing has accomplished one of the goals that team owner Justin Marks set when he entered the NASCAR Cup Series.
He wanted Trackhouse to shake up the NASCAR Cup Series garage by thinking outside of the box. That’s exactly what Trackhouse Racing has accomplished and finds itself as one of NASCAR’s Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway.
There was really never any doubt that Joey Logano was in command of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race.
He started on the pole, led five times for 187 laps and trailed one of the other three Championship Four competitors for just two laps in Sunday’s 312-lap NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.
None of the other drivers on the track could pass Logano’s perfectly prepared No. 22 Ford Thunderbird for Team Penske.