2022 NASCAR Cup Series

Chase Elliott, the current points leader and regular season champion.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series is the 74th season for NASCAR professional stock car racing in the United States and the 51st season for the modern-era Cup Series. The season started at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 6 with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum. That race was followed by the Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying races on February 17 and the 64th running of the Daytona 500, the first points race of the season, at Daytona International Speedway on February 20. The regular season will end with the Coke Zero Sugar 400, also at Daytona, on August 27. The NASCAR playoffs will begin with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 4 and will end with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway on November 6.[1] This season marks the debut of the Next Gen Car, which was originally supposed to debut in 2021, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this is the first season to have races covered by USA Network, which takes over for the now-defunct NBCSN.[2]

This marks the final season for Mars, Incorporated as a NASCAR sponsor, as the company announced on December 20, 2021, that it would leave NASCAR following the 2022 season. They have been the main sponsor for Kyle Busch's No. 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing since the 2008 season, primarily through the M&M's brand. Prior to that, they sponsored the No. 36 MB2 Motorsports car from 1997 to 2002 and the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing car from 2003 to 2007.[3] This is also the final season for Kyle Busch driving the JGR No. 18. After months of contract negotiations with Busch and trying to find a replacement sponsor for M&M's in 2023, JGR was unable to get a deal done and Busch announced he would be leaving for Richard Childress Racing for 2023.[4]

This was also the first season since 1960 to have a winner of a race during the season disqualified. In the race at Pocono Raceway, Denny Hamlin was stripped of the win after failing post-race inspection. (After that, the win was given to initial third-place finisher Chase Elliott due to the initial second-place finisher, Kyle Busch, Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, also failing post-race inspection and being disqualified.) It is the first time it has happened in a Cup Series race since the rule disqualifying the winner if their car failed post-race inspection was added in 2019. Additionally, the race at Watkins Glen International featured drivers from seven different countries competing in the race, the most in series history.[5]

Following the Watkins Glen race, Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports clinched the regular season championship.[6]

As of the 2022 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas, 19 different drivers have won a race during the season, which tied the modern-era (1972–present) record set in 2001. Five drivers (Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suárez, and Tyler Reddick) won their first career races. Chastain, Reddick, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, and Chris Buescher won their second career races. (Wallace and Buescher also won their first non-rain shortened races.) Reddick, William Byron, and Erik Jones won their third career races, making the 2022 season one of the most competitive in history.

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