The first short track points race of the year and the 2022 NASCAR Cup season is keeping its promise of near constant parity. While Richmond wasn’t the rip it down thrash it out Bowman Gray style of short track racing that much of the modern media tries to sell us, it was a good race with a lot of satisfying competition. Long green flag runs, green flag pit stops, and tire conservation on a tight track where traffic needed to be carefully navigated…this is the ACTUAL grassroots style of short track racing NASCAR’s biggest detractors claim no longer exists. An old school race requires an old school winner, and battling it right to the end with Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin grabbed a much needed victory after a frustrating first six races.
That’s 7 races with 7 different winners. Denny Hamlin’s victory is not a surprising win historically speaking, but considering the trends for 2022 this does shake up our Tracking 16 chart. Denny Hamlin was a solid “Should” in our winner potential power rankings, but as he moves over to the Winner column there are still a great deal of strong runners that seem due for a win any day now. Heck, three of the four cars in the final push to the win were non-winners. With another short track next week the potential for an 8th winner is very much in play, especially given Martin Truex Jr’s proven strength at Richmond. Let’s get to the chart and see if we need any more updates.
With Hamlin in the winner’s column we’re down to 9 open spots, assuming the eventual regular season champion gets a win, which for now we’ll pencil in as probable. With only one race since our last update there isn’t much movement in the Should, Might, and Wild columns, but a couple drivers are starting to make cases for a change. Aric Almirola snagged some good finishes early in the year but has been struggling on the smaller sized tracks. Christopher Bell and the 20 team on the other hand have put together more of the finishes we expect from JGR, so a trade of those two spots could be on the horizon. Still, with a dirt track and Talladega race on the horizon, a W could come from anywhere by the end of April.
Who’s the next to take a win and get us closer to the magic 16 number and beyond?
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