- Ryan Blaney wins the Daytona 500
In the past few years Denny Hamlin has been regarded as the best plate racer in the field and is usually the favorite to win races. There is a new kid on the block however, as Ryan Blaney has emerged as a threat to take over Denny’s spot as the king of the restrictor plate tracks. Although he does not have near the win total or the stacked resume that Hamlin has, Blaney has progressed as a driver to the point where he can always be found up front fighting with the best of the best for a win. Blaney has shown even more daring and aggressive moves than ever before in the last 3 plate tracks and if he can string all of this together in 1 race at the start of the season next year, he could cement himself as the first ever NASCAR Next Gen winner.
- Kyle Larson defends his title
NASCAR has not had a repeat winner in a few years and all of that could change. Kyle Larson dominated all year last year getting double digits in the win column and driving the #5 Hendrick Motorsports car in victory lane after the championship race in Phoenix. I do not think he will be as dominant given that the new car is supposed to balance out the competition and with the return of qualifying could mean that he is not starting every race up front which could lead to less dominance.
- Tyler Reddick gets first win
Tyler Reddick established himself as a great driver with 9 xFinity Series wins in 2 years of competition before landing a full time Cup Series ride in for the 2019 season with RCR. He still drives the #8 cars and is scheduled to run a full time season in 2022. Reddick has made a name for himself for excelling at the “driver tracks” such as Homestead, Darlington, and Bristol. These are the tracks that drivers love going to and say take the most skill. With the new car putting the skill aspect back into the drivers hands with low downforce and high horsepower, Reddick could wheel himself into victory lane for the first time in the 2022 season.
- Team Trackhouse first win
23XI won the race in 2021 to become the first new team to get a win with Bubba Wallace winning a rain shortened Talladega race in the playoff race playing some spoiler as he was not a playoff driver. This went against what people thought given the way the season started, it looked like Suarez and Trackhouse were going to get the win first before falling into a mid pack team. With Chip Ganassi Racing folding their NASCAR program and selling their charter, Trackhouse picked up the #1 car and ex Ganassi driver Ross Chastain, this team now has 2 drivers that are capable of winning races with a little bit of development and there is no better time than now to grab a win.
- Stewart-Haas Comeback story
Stewart-Haas Racing, headlined by Kevin Harvick, the team came off an absolutely dominant season in 2020 and fell just short of having a car in contention for the championship. 2021 was a much different story, the team went from double digit wins as a team to 1 win, a race versus the daylight in New Hampshire where Aric Almirola drove the #10 cars to victory lane. There were some rumors that they were holding out and doing more research and development into the Next Gen Car, if these are true, the Stewart-Haas cars can be a real force coming into the new era of NASCAR and take back their domination they once had on the sport.