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NASCAR 2022


LAWeaver
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With NextGen testing at Daytona wrapped-up and the Busch Light Clash just over three weeks away, I figured it was time to get a new thread started.

 

A lot has changed over the offseason, so without further ado, here's some of the major headlines going into the 2022 NASCAR season:

 

  • Obviously the first big piece of news is the NextGen car - A symmetrical, carbon-fiber body that'll supposedly help reduce costs in the long run for teams and hopefully lead to a bit more parity, closing the gap between the front-runners and the mid-pack racers. The car was originally set to debut in 2021, but the pandemic pushed back R&D and testing until this year.

    One of the most notable changes fans young and old will pickup on is the new number placement. Traditionally, car numbers have been centered on the left and right side of the car. However, the new car has less space on the rear-quarter panel, meaning less room for sponsorship. To fix this, NASCAR has moved the required number placement forward a few inches so that it is now under the A-post near the front fender. As a result, some of the new paint schemes have been good, while others... not so much as designers work around the new number placement rules with sponsors.

    Also, in late December, NASCAR has officially announced they will run with 670 horsepower and a four-inch spoiler at all tracks with the exception of Daytona, Talladega, and likely Atlanta (They'll run a 510 HP package; More on ATL in a sec). Many fans, drivers, and media members have clambered for higher horsepower after the series experimented with a 550 HP package the last couple of years, resulting in tighter racing on intermediate tracks but less action like the sport had hoped. 
     
  • Atlanta Motor Speedway underwent a major reconfiguration over the offseason starting last summer following the second Cup race in 2021. Banking has increased in the turns and the racing groove has narrowed, causing some drivers to compare the new surface to a "Mini-Daytona". While the racing at Atlanta had been OK the last several years, the track surface was one of the oldest on the circuit and has needed replaced for nearly a decade, at least. Track owner SMI seems to want to make Atlanta their own superspeedway.
     
  • Some tweaks to the schedule for 2022 but overall not a whole lot changes outside of the playoffs:
    • The Busch Light Clash exhibition race will take place Sunday, Feb. 6 on a quarter-mile oval inside the LA Coliseum, home of the USC Trojans football team. Heat races will determine the 23-ar field for the main event.
    • The Cup Series returns to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, this time on March 27. So prepare for another fustercluck with rain likely.
    • Speaking of potential fusterclucks, the Bristol Dirt Race will run on Easter Sunday at 7 p.m. Last year's event saw a multitude of issues ranging from monsoon-like weather to dust clouds and overall poor track management during both the Cup and Camping World Truck Series races.
    • NASCAR's All-Star weekend returns to Texas Motor Speedway on its traditional date, the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
    • The Cup Series makes its debut at World Wide Technology Raceway (AKA Gateway) on Sunday, June 5.
    • Just announced this week: Sonoma will revert back to a 110-lap event as the Series runs "The Chute" - the straight stretch at the end of the track. The Cup Series ran The Chute during the 2000s and 2010s before going back to the traditional Carousel layout used by the IndyCar Series.
    • Richmond's second Cup date has been removed from the playoffs and placed in mid-August on the 14th. The new playoff schedule is as follows:
      Round of 16: Darlington, Kansas, Bristol | Round of 12: Texas, Talladega, Charlotte Roval | Round of 8: Las Vegas, Miami, Martinsville | Championship: Phoenix

 

Now for some driver and team changes for the new season: 

 

  • Chip Ganassi Racing has closed its doors, as Ganassi sold the team in June to Trackhouse Racing, co-owned by Justin Marks and Pitbull. Daniel Suarez will continue to pilot the #99, while Ross Chastain moves over to Trackhouse and will drive the #1. 
     
  • Stemming from Ganassi's closure, 2004 Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch was considered the top free agent of the offseason. After months of speculation, it was revealed Kurt would drive the new #45 Toyota for 23XI Racing, co-owned by Michael Jordan and driver of the #11, Denny Hamlin. The team purchased the #00 charter from Starcom Racing, who had struggled since their inception with a multitude of drivers.
     
  • Richard Petty Motorsports has been sold to GMS Racing, a successful Truck Series organization with a championship and several wins to their credit. GMS had announced last fall they were going to run the #94 with Ty Dillon, but that plan has since changed. Now, Erik Jones will continue to drive the #43 Chevy, while Ty Dillon will now run the #42.
     
  • After 12 seasons together, Brad Keselowski and Team Penske parted-ways this offseason. Brad has purchased a minority stake in Roush-Fenway Racing, forming Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing (RFK Racing, for short). Brad will also pilot the #6 Ford, while former driver of the #6 Ryan Newman, is a free agent. Newman, who joined the series in 2002, has been rumored to retire the past couple seasons, especially after his gnarly wreck in the Daytona 500 in 2020 that sidelined him for a couple races. He could still appear in one-off races in any of the top-three series as he hasn't officially announced his retirement.
     
  • As a result of Keselowski's departure, Penske has signed rookie and 2020 Xfinity Series champion, Austin Cindric, to pilot the #2 for 2022. Cindric was originally set to replace Matt DiBenedetto in the #21 car for the Wood Bros. (now a satellite team for Penske) this season, but the loss of Keselowski allowed Cindric the opportunity to take the #2.
     
  • Rookie and former Xfinity Series driver Harrison Burton (son of Jeff Burton) joins the Wood Bros. for 2022 after two years in the Joe Gibbs Racing camp. 
     
  • Matt DiBenedetto found himself going from loveable underdog to outcast fairly quick. "Matty D" complained about the decision by Penske and the Wood Bros. to not bring him back for 2022, despite knowing a year in advance the switch would happen and not improving his on-track performance, and used the anti-Biden "LGB" phrase at Phoenix a day after NASCAR said they were distancing themselves from the controversy. DiBenedetto has since signed a full-time deal in the Truck Series.
     
  • Three-time Cup Series race winner Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 for Stewart-Haas Racing, announced this week he would retire from full-time competition at the end of 2022. The announcement comes just days after Ryan Preece signed a deal with SHR to run on a part-time basis for Ford-backed teams across all three series, basically serving as the team's reserve driver. Preece spent the past few seasons driving the #47 and #37 for JTG/Daugherty Racing, but could not turn his potential into results.

    Almirola's departure could open the door for Preece getting the #10 in 2023, although rumors are circulating Kevin Harvick could also be closing in on retirement, likely within the next year or two.
     
  • Kaulig Racing, a mainstay in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, announced they would field two full-time entries in the Cup Series in 2022. Justin Haley officially makes the jump to Cup driving the #31 car, while the #16 car will be ran by Daniel Hemric, AJ Allmendinger, and Noah Gragson. The team has won several Xfinity races with Haley and Allmendinger leading the charge, with superspeedways and road courses being their strong suit. 
     
  • Rick Ware Racing, notorious for being the Cup Series' backmarker organization, announced they would scale back to two full-time entries for 2022. In addition, they have formed a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford. No full-time drivers have been announced as of yet. David Ragan will return to the Cup Series part-time driving the #15 in the Daytona 500 and other events, while Ryan Preece will also pick up a race or two as part of his new deal with SHR. The #51 could be piloted by Cody Ware, who drove the car for nearly all of 2021.
     
  • Spire Motorsports ended up buying, selling, and trading multiple charters during the offseason, but in the end they will once again field two entries - the #7 and #77. Corey LaJoie will continue to drive the #7, while Josh Bilicki will run most of the 2022 schedule behind the wheel of the #77 starting in March. Journeyman driver Landon Cassill tested with Spire at Daytona this week and is expected to drive the #77 for the Daytona 500.
     
  • Former Indianapolis 500 winner and F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will compete in multiple races for the newly-formed Team Hezeberg #27 Ford. Villeneuve tested the NextGen car at Daytona and said this week he expects to attempt the Great American Race next month. The team is a joint effort between NASCAR Euro Series champion Toine Hezemans, Dutch businessman Ernst Berg, and backmarker Truck Series team Reaume Brothers Racing. Team Herzberg is expected to compete in the series' road course events and possibly more races throughout 2022. 
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  • 2 weeks later...

They just announced on the 49ers/Packers game (on Fox) that Tony Stewart will be joining Bowyer & Mike Joy in the booth. I know Jeff Gordon took essentially the heir apparent role at HMS, but have we heard Stewart announce before?

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On 1/22/2022 at 10:13 PM, floydnimrod said:

They just announced on the 49ers/Packers game (on Fox) that Tony Stewart will be joining Bowyer & Mike Joy in the booth. I know Jeff Gordon took essentially the heir apparent role at HMS, but have we heard Stewart announce before?

I think he may have called a truck race at Eldora, but I'm not sure.

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He announced a few xfinity races and he was pretty good. Had lots of insight, but didn’t take over the broadcast like bowyer and Jeff would at times. He’s more of a background voice that would give you the technical aspect of what is happening. He might be alittle to reserved though, especially for an over produced fox broadcast.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I don’t like these new cars. Wheels are falling off left and right, and they just don’t seem as durable as the old cars with bits and pieces breaking off. Cars can’t make it back to the pits from a flat. I think the main issue is the trans axel and the new wheels being 1 lug. There are too many parts to break in the rear end, and then the 1 lug along with the aluminum wheels just can’t handle the forces being put on them repeatedly.

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AJ Allmendinger's best friend wins the Daytona 500. (For those of you wondering, I refer to Austin Cindric as AJ's best friend since their tangle at the end of Stage 1 of last years Xfinity race at the Daytona RC.)

 

I agree that the new car sucks right now; but I chalk it up to the race and the fact it's a new car. They should look at the car and smooth out the racing before the next plate race at Talladega.

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Cars definitely need some work. The fact Kaz Grala can lose a tire like he did is just an embarrassment. 

It does seem like there's a lot more parity now. Where even single car teams like JTG have a serious shot at winning big races. 

 

As far as the race, while I only watched about the last 50 laps, it was still pretty good. 

Sad to see Bubba come up short again. But Cindric winning is a nice surprise.
I also didn't realize this is going to be Almirola's last season. Great that he got a top 5. But personally I'll never forgive Austin Dillon for wrecking him on the last lap a few years ago when he could have won it. But that's just racing I guess.  I was always a big fan of him going back to when he was with Petty in the 43. 

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The racing was really good,  but the cars need some serious tweaking. Too many tire and wheel issues among other things. We can't have cars being stuck wherever they are when they get a flat. NASCAR is on the right track with the Next Gen car, but I think they may have gone to it one year too early. Seems like it could have used one more year of really intense testing. Now is not the time to find out the wheels may not be quite there yet.

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Honestly, I'm not too worried about the cars "falling apart" after watching yesterday's race. I do agree the wheel issues are a bit concerning, but let's remember a few things: This was the first instance of live pit stops with the new wheels, these tires no longer have an inner-liner, meaning if they go flat they'll go down to the rim. Also, this is Daytona, probably the worst place to debut a car with little testing outside of Talladega and maybe Atlanta now. 

 

There's a couple examples that stood out to me that make me think the NextGen bodies are actually better than the Gen6 ones. First, Alex Bowman had an airborne car land on his hood. While the wheel/tire issues kept him from getting to the pits and, ultimately, took him out of contention, he was still able to come back out and actually finish the race, all things considered. Last year, they would've taken that car immediately behind the wall for a 37th-place finish. 

 

Next, you've got Bubba. After Stenhouse spun and clipped the right-side of the 23, I thought his race was done. Instead - Without a right-front fender, mind you - He nearly won the 500. Last year, the nose of the 47 would've acted like a can opener and peeled the right side of Bubba's car clean off. 

 

Overall, I think it was a solid race. Congrats to Cindric. I think he's still got a win or two at least left in him this year once we get to the road courses. 

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The bodies may be better, but they need to do some serious re-engineering of the rear end and wheels. Wheels ripping the rim off shouldn’t happen, and a rear tire flat shouldn’t be a death sentence. I don’t know if it is the under foil design or the independent rear suspension or transaxle but something is making it so cars can’t get grip and bottom out with a rear flat. There was also numerous rear end problems from the Busch clash with all the transaxels breaking, and then you had Denny Hamlin and others being unable to continue due to the rear end getting out of wack just because of a simple spin. 

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2 hours ago, dont care said:

then you had Denny Hamlin and others being unable to continue due to the rear end getting out of wack just because of a simple spin. 

 

Hamiln's car didn't seem to get hit that hard and still came out of the Burton wreck looking like this. (1:52 if my attempt to set the start point didn't work.)

 

 

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11 minutes ago, infrared41 said:

 

Hamiln's car didn't seem to get hit that hard and still came out of the Burton wreck looking like this. (1:52 if my attempt to set the start point didn't work.)

 

 

Exactly, the only time that you’d have something similar to that is when a track bar would break off the axel and that would take a serious impact to the side of the car causing the axel to shift and snap it. These new cars are breaking a linkage somewhere and causing these issues and just aren’t as durable in the rear. I just think nascar can have anything other than a solid rear axel due to the weight and speed and forces that are put on them. IMSA are close to being as heavy but don’t put as much force repeatedly not going as fast on road courses. Indy they don’t weigh as much so not as much force is being put on the axels on the speedways.

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Fontana turned out to be much more entertaining and less of a cluster than anyone thought. Cars still have problems with flats after spins (not to mention the perplexing tow truck situation, did they not think this through?). There seemed to be a few more spins than normal,  but I think that was more attributable to the terrible racing surface than the next gen car. There weren't many "ugh this next gen car" moments.

 

I'm tired of Kyle Larson, would've loved to see Suárez pull it out, but it was overall a pretty good race.

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These last three races have been some of the most exciting in recent years. Obviously they still need to figure out tire issues, but other than that the Gen 7s are nothing but success in my opinion. They are tough to drive and that makes for better racing. Loving this season so far.

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Three races in and we've had three entertaining races.

What's disturbing is the truck series tower STILL has a problem of when to throw cautions!

 

And then Cup tower not throwing one quickly for Erik Jones, and the pace car driver almost getting wiped out by Bubba, the pc driver's fault for leaving too early

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14 hours ago, Needschat said:

Three races in and we've had three entertaining races.

What's disturbing is the truck series tower STILL has a problem of when to throw cautions!

 

And then Cup tower not throwing one quickly for Erik Jones, and the pace car driver almost getting wiped out by Bubba, the pc driver's fault for leaving too early

What do you mean it’s the pace car drivers fault? He gets told caution so he starts to pull out of the barrier. He can’t see behind the barrier, he doesn’t have X-ray vision. The barrier is about as tall as the car. It’s on nascar to tell the pace car when it’s clear to go out. The pace car driver saw the car as he pulled out and stopped.

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