The 2022 NASCAR season kicked off this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Dave Mathers took it all in, and more. This is Dave’s Motion Motorsport Report for February 21, 2022.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: The first points race of the year brought all sorts of anticipation and legitimate concerns regarding the all-new Next Gen cars. New bodies (MUCH better looking than the old ones IMHO), new transaxles (5 speed sequential), new 18″ wheels and tires, new single locknut instead of the previous five, new rear diffusers, ROUND bumpers (not flat like the previous ones), new BIGGER brakes and a new excitement for and by all concerned.
Final practice Tuesday showed only Fords running in the top ten. So, would they dominate qualifying for the Duels? Nope. Chevrolets 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, & 9. Hendrick cars would start on the pole (Larson) and outside pole (Bowman).
That meant the Chevs would dominate the Duels, right? Nope. New part owner of RFK (with Jack Roush & Fenway) Brad Keselowski won Duel 1 while teammate Chris Buescher won Duel 2, both in Fords.
Toyotas appeared to be MIA as the highest-qualified car belonged to Kyle Busch, in tenth, followed by Christopher Bell (12th), Truex (14th), Wallace (16th) and Hamlin way back in 30th.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was one of the six ‘non charter’ entries vying for one of the four open spots available, and he was successful, starting the race in 40th. Greg Biffle was back after a six-year absence from the series. He qualified 28th.
In a VERY interesting twist, two retired NBA stars entered cars that they are part owners of – Michael Jordan (Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch) and Brad Dougherty (Ricky Stenhouse).
And how does NASCAR dare bring somebody named ‘Big E’ to be the pace car driver? There is only ONE ‘Big E’ and that is Dale Earnhardt, Senior. Period!
As well, NASCAR was bragging about having 150,000 spectators (half mile Bristol seats 160,000!!) for the race (after they had removed all the back stretch grandstands?). The Formula One race last October had 400,000 spectators at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas! Just sayin’!
So, how was the 500, you ask? INCREDIBLE!! Kyle Larson started on the pole with Alex Bowman outside. It didn’t take long for the Ford juggernaut to overtake them.
There was little excitement until the lap 40 pitstops when Jacques Villeneuve appeared to overcook ‘pit in’ and spun. He quickly recovered and lost little time.
Things ran smoothly until lap 63 when Brad Keselowski bumped rookie Harrison Burton in the legendary Woods Brothers #21 turning him sideways where he was hit by several cars going airborne but landing on his wheels. He was fine.
Cars involved in that skirmish were Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and William Byron. Hamlin, Byron, Burton and Chastain all went ‘on the trailer’ as a result.
Things seemed to quiet down until lap 150 when Villeneuve appeared to hit Tyler Reddick causing him to spin. Later updates indicated that Reddick had a rear toe link break causing him to lift.
That incident also involved Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. (the winner of the first two stages). Only Bell and Reddick were forced to retire.
Lap 190 saw Kyle Larson get a BIG run on Kevin Harvick, too big, turning Harvick. This took out Erik Jones, Harvick, Larson, Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland.
That should be it for yellows, right? Nope. On lap 196 Keselowski turned Stenhouse, creating a green / white / checker final run. Rookie Austin Cindric gave Roger Penske another Daytona win just edging Bubba Wallace by what appeared to be about five feet. Chase Briscoe finished third. Villeneuve finished a very respectable 22nd with his car in one piece.
Kudos to Fox for their coverage of the race. Apparently, this year, Mike Joy (THE best) and Clint Bowyer (THE funniest) will be joined each week by a ‘guest commentator.’ Tony Stewart added great stuff to the broadcast as that guest. Bowyer asked Stewart where he would prefer to be, inside or outside, on the last restart. Tony answered, ‘right up here with you guys’!!
The next race, Fontana, is this coming Sunday at 3.30 P.M. on both TSN and Fox.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: The best news about this series, you ask? Kyle Busch has announced that he is NOT going to race in it anymore!! LOL
The race was, surprisingly, quite calm, not what everybody had been anticipating. Lots of lead changes and lots of passing made for an entertaining event.
A couple of incidents early sent several cars ‘to the house’ but nobody was ready for what happened as the field was coming to the white flag (similar to the Truck race finish).
Anthony Alfredo ‘tapped’ the back bumper of Myatt Snyder and one of the scariest wrecks in a long time saw Snyder get up into the catch fence, upside down, ON FIRE and back down into the infield.
His engine came right out of the car and landed quite far from the car. The rear of the car was also torn off but the containment cage did its job and he was fine.
Apparently, Bubba Wallace is an amateur photographer and he along with Michael Jordan just happened to be standing very close to where the accident happened to occur, while waiting to take a photo of the finish. Welcome to NASCAR Michael!!
Austin Hill just nipped Dinger (A. J. Allmendinger) at the checker, while Noah Gragson came home third. One of the highlights for me was the hawk flying in front of one of the high mount cameras with a fish in its mouth during the race!!
Their next race (Fontana) is this Saturday at 5 P.M. on TSN.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: Zane Smith won the season opener in an exciting race. Smith had been leading coming to the white flag when a multi-truck wreck brought out the caution, about twenty feet before the line.
It took about fifteen minutes to clean up the debris. On the restart Smith, in a Ford, maintained his edge over Ben Rhodes, in a Toyota and Christian Eckes, also in a Toyota.
Stewart Friesen, Toyota, started a strong 5th but finished 16th. B.C. driver Jason White, Toyota, started 33rd and looked good all race ending up 20th, the first car a lap down having had some damage from the previous accident coming to the white flag.
They next race (Las Vegas) is Friday night, March 4 at 7.30 P.M. on Fox Sports Racing.
ARCA SERIES: Surprisingly the Daytona ARCA race was NOT the usual ‘wreck fest’ as so many times in the past have been but featured some good, close racing.
Corey Heim, in a Toyota, started 20th and won over Parker Chase, Toyota and Daniel Dye, Chevrolet. Canadian Jason White, Chevrolet, continued his good run in the Truck race by finishing 17th on the lead lap after starting 25th.
Manitoba racer Amber Balcaen, Ford, started 22nd and finished 16th one spot ahead of White. Former motorcycle racer Dale Quarterley, Chevrolet, who we raced with in the American Canadian Tour (ACT) in the 90s, started 15th and ended a strong 12th. Their next race is March 11 at Phoenix.
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: They will open the season at Sunset Speedway on May 14.
APC SERIES: This fast growing series opens May 21 at Sunset Speedway.
NHRA: There were a lot of questions regarding the Winternationals at Pomona. Several new teams had been created over the off-season and everybody wondered how that would turn out.
Top Fuel saw several new combinations. Tony Schumacher was returning to drive for his father after a few years off due to lack of sponsorship. He qualified 12th and went out in the second round losing to rookie Austin Prock driving for John Force Racing.
Antron Brown started his own team and qualified 10th before losing to eventual winner Justin Ashley, also in the second round.
Leah Pruett is now driving for her husband, Tony Stewart, and she qualified 7th but lost to Antron Brown in the first round. Ashley took out heavy hitter Steve Torrence in the semis and then topped Prock in the final.
Funny Car also had new teams. Ron Capps went out on his own and had a VERY auspicious start. He qualified Number 1 and took out John Force in the 1st round, J. R. Todd in the 2nd, Cruz Pedregon in the semis and then lost to Robert Hight in the final.
The car owner has to be happy with his driver!! Matt Hagan is also part of Tony Stewart’s team and he qualified 3rd, taking out Chad Green in the 1st, Bob Tasca in the second before losing to eventual winner Hight in the semis.
Pro Stock had all the usual suspects plus Bo Butner returning. Erica Enders topped the qualifying and took down Christian Cuadra in the 1st, Dallas Glenn in the 2nd, defending class champion Greg Anderson in the semis before just nipping Aaron Stanfield in the final.
Their next race is this coming weekend at Phoenix.
IMSA: Their next race is The Twelve Hours of Sebring, March 19.
FORMULA ONE: FINALLY the FIA and F1 have done the right thing and fired Michael Masi from the Race Director’s position.
BUT, and this is a BIG but, the ‘cure is worse than the disease’!! They have appointed a ‘tag team’ of two guys to take turns controlling the races. What could POSSIBLY go wrong with that?
With new cars, new tires and rims, ‘winglets,’ wheel covers (yup, wheel covers) and E10 biofuel it should make for an interesting season.
They start their season on March 20 at Bahrain.
IndyCar: Their next race is on the ‘Streets of St. Petersburg’, Florida this weekend.
Until next week!!