Silly Season scorecard: A new mix for the new year

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Deep into December, the start of the 2023 NASCAR season seems far away, but shops have been busy getting cars and plans ready for the new year.

Some teams have new faces in new places. The biggest change for the new year will be Kyle Busch sitting in the No. 8 Chevrolets at Richard Childress Racing after winning championships with Joe Gibbs Racing. Ty Gibbs replaces Busch but will drive JGR’s No. 54. Ryan Preece moves into the No. 41 at Stewart-Haas Racing, and Tyler Reddick joins 23XI Racing.

A look at Silly Season as the calendar approaches 2023:

Cup Series

No. 1: Ross Chastain, the surprise driver of 2022, returns to keep the fire burning — and the watermelons smashing — at Trackhouse Racing.

No. 2: Austin Cindric, Daytona 500 winner and rookie of the year, returns to Team Penske.

No. 3: Austin Dillon returns in Richard Childress Racing’s flagship number.

MORE: NBC Power Rankings: The best of one-hit wonders

No. 4: Kevin Harvick will seek a return to playoff power.

No. 5: Signed by Hendrick Motorsports through 2026, Kyle Larson drives toward a second championship.

No. 6: Now firmly established as the boss at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Brad Keselowski will look to boost RFK’s profile in his second season there.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie returns, and why not put his face on his car hood for Daytona again?

No. 8: After a long and successful run at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch joins Richard Childress Racing. What will happen? Just watch.

No. 9: Chase Elliott might be in this car for the rest of his career. He’s signed through 2027.

No. 10: Aric Almirola announced his retirement but made an abrupt U-turn and will return to this car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Bring the bacon.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin tries again to nab that first championship.

MORE: Sometimes you just gotta laugh…some NASCAR funnies

No. 12: Ryan Blaney, “Mr. Almost But No Point Wins in 2022,” is back with Team Penske.

No. 14: A return to Stewart-Haas Racing for one of the surprise drivers — Chase Briscoe — of 2022.

No. 15: Several drivers will share this ride for Rick Ware Racing.

No. 16: AJ Allmendinger jumps back into Cup full-time for Kaulig Racing.

No. 17: Chris Buescher scored RFK Racing’s first win this season.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. considered retirement for a while but will be back with JGR for at least another year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell was Mr. Magic in the 2022 playoffs. He’s back for another shot.

No. 21: Harrison Burton returns for another season in the iconic Wood Brothers car.

No. 22: The champ, Joey Logano, won’t be leaving the Penske ride.

No. 23: Bubba Wallace is back.

No. 24: William Byron remains at Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 31: Justin Haley makes another run for Kaulig Racing.

No. 34: Michael McDowell returns to Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: Todd Gilliland back at FRM for his sophomore season.

MORE: Spiders? Snakes? What scares NASCAR drivers?

No. 41: Ryan Preece takes over this ride from Cole Custer in 2023.

No. 42: Noah Gragson, fresh from a sensational season in Xfinity, moves up to Cup with the new and improved Petty GMS team, now co-owned by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson plans to run a part-time Cup schedule with the team — car number not yet known.

No. 43: The King’s car will carry Erik Jones again.

No. 45: Tyler Reddick drives from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI in one of Silly Season’s biggest moves.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse returns.

No. 48: Alex Bowman expected back full-time after missing several races late in 2022 with concussion-like symptoms.

No. 51: Cody Ware and possibly other drivers will be in this ride.

No. 54: Ty Gibbs will drive this car, while Joe Gibbs Racing parks the No. 18 for the 2023 season.

No. 77: Ty Dillon moves from Petty GMS to race for Spire.

No. 78: Josh Bilicki will drive part-time for Live Fast Motorsports.

No. 99: Daniel Suarez, now a Cup winner, is back for Trackhouse.

Xfinity Series

No. 00: Cole Custer returns to the Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing after three years in Cup.

No. 1: Sam Mayer returns to JR Motorsports for a second season.

No. 2: Sheldon Creed returns to Richard Childress Racing.

No. 4: Bayley Currey is back at JD Motorsports.

No. 6: Brennan Poole is on board at JD Motorsports.

No. 7: Justin Allgaier returns to JR Motorsports for another shot at an elusive title.

No. 8: Josh Berry looks to reach the playoffs again for JR Motorsports.

No. 9: Brandon Jones departed Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for JR Motorsports.

No. 10: Landon Cassill is back with Kaulig Racing.

No. 11: Daniel Hemric returns with Kaulig Racing.

No. 16: Chandler Smith moves into the Kaulig Racing vacancy left by AJ Allmendinger.

No. 18: Sammy Smith driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

No. 19: Ryan Truex will run a part-time schedule for Joe Gibbs.

No. 20: John Hunter Nemecheck driving for JGR.

No. 21: Austin Hill returns to Richard Childress Racing and also will run six Cup races for Beard Motorsports.

No. 24: Connor Mosack with Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 25: Brett Moffitt on board with AM Racing.

No. 26: Kaz Grala runs Xfinity full-time for Sam Hunt Racing.

No. 34: Jesse Iwuji and Kyle Weatherman possible drivers here.

No. 39: Ryan Sieg back for another season.

No. 44: Jeffrey Earnhardt will drive full-time for Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 45: Ryan Ellis and Saga Karam on board at Alpha Prime Racing.

No. 48: Parker Kligerman will run Xfinity full time for the first time since 2013.

No. 51: Jeremy Clements back with his family team.

No. 78: Garrett Smithley will race full time for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

No. 98: Riley Herbst returns to this ride and will have Cole Custer as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

 

 

Silly Season scorecard: New faces, new places

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Joey Logano soon will officially be crowned NASCAR’s 2022 Cup Series champion in Nashville, but time waits for no driver. Already fans are eyeing the start of the next season on the short track at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.

The schedule will be somewhat different – there’s that big, unprecedented turn in the summer as Cup cars race for the first time on the streets of Chicago, for example — and there will be old names in new places (Jimmie Johnson, for one).

Here’s a look at the NASCAR Silly Season scorecard, at least as it currently stands. As with all things Silly, don’t be surprised if things change before 2023 arrives.

Cup Series

No. 1: Ross Chastain, the surprise driver of 2022, returns to keep the fire burning — and the watermelons smashing — at Trackhouse Racing.

No. 2: Austin Cindric, Daytona 500 winner and rookie of the year, returns to Team Penske.

No. 3: Austin Dillon returns in Richard Childress Racing’s flagship number.

MORE: Can Petty GMS make a big move forward in 2023?

No. 4: Kevin Harvick will seek a return to playoff power.

No. 5: Signed by Hendrick Motorsports through 2026, Kyle Larson drives toward a second championship.

No. 6: Now firmly established as the boss at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Brad Keselowski will look to boost RFK’s profile in his second season there.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie returns, and why not put his face on his car hood for Daytona again?

No. 8: After a long and successful run at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch joins Richard Childress Racing. What will happen? Just watch.

No. 9: Chase Elliott might be in this car for the rest of his career. He’s signed through 2027.

No. 10: Aric Almirola announced his retirement but made an abrupt U-turn and will return to this car for Stewart-Haas Racing. Bring the bacon.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: The Champ is No. 1

No. 11: Denny Hamlin tries again to nab that first championship.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney, Mr. Almost But No Point Wins in 2022, is back with Team Penske.

No. 14: A return to Stewart-Haas Racing for one of the surprise drivers — Chase Briscoe — of 2022.

No. 16: AJ Allmendinger jumps back into Cup full-time for Kaulig Racing.

No. 17: Chris Buescher scored RFK Racing’s first win this season.

No. 18: No announcement about Kyle Busch’s replacement, but odds favor Ty Gibbs.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. considered retirement for a while but will be back with JGR for at least another year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell was Mr. Magic in the 2022 playoffs. He’s back for another shot.

No. 21: Harrison Burton returns for another season in the iconic Wood Brothers car.

No. 22: The champ, Joey Logano, won’t be leaving the Penske ride.

No. 23: Bubba Wallace is back.

No. 24: William Byron remains at Hendrick Motorsports.

No. 31: Justin Haley makes another run for Kaulig Racing.

No. 34: Michael McDowell a likely returnee to Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: Todd Gilliland expected back for another run with FRM.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at 2022’s numbers

No. 41: Ryan Preece takes over this ride from Cole Custer in 2023.

No. 42: Noah Gragson, fresh from a sensational season in Xfinity, moves up to Cup with the new and improved Petty GMS team, now co-owned by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson plans to run a part-time Cup schedule with the team — car number not yet known.

No. 43: The King’s car will carry Erik Jones again.

No. 45: Tyler Reddick drives from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI in one of Silly Season’s biggest moves.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse returns.

No. 48: Alex Bowman expected back full-time after missing several races late in 2022 with concussion-like symptoms.

No. 54: Ty Gibbs will drive this car, while Joe Gibbs Racing parks the No. 18 for the 2023 season.

No. 77: Ty Dillon moves from Petty GMS to race for Spire.

No. 99: Daniel Suarez, now a Cup winner, is back for Trackhouse.

Xfinity Series

No. 1: Sam Mayer returns to JR Motorsports for a second season.

No. 2: Sheldon Creed returns to Richard Childress Racing.

No. 4: Bayley Currey is back at JD Motorsports.

No. 7: Justin Allgaier returns to JR Motorsports for another shot at an elusive title.

No. 8: Josh Berry looks to reach the playoffs again for JR Motorsports.

No. 9: Brandon Jones departed Joe Gibbs Racing to drive for JR Motorsports.

No. 10: Landon Cassill is back with Kaulig Racing.

No. 11: Daniel Hemric returns with Kauling Racing.

MORE: Start times revealed for 2023 season

No. 16: Chandler Smith moves into the Kaulig Racing vacancy left by AJ Allmendinger.

No. 21: Austin Hill returns to Richard Childress Racing and also will run six Cup races for Beard Motorsports.

No. 39: Ryan Sieg back for another season.

No. 45: Ryan Ellis returns.

No. 48: Parker Kligerman will run Xfinity full time for the first time since 2013.

No. 51: Jeremy Clements back with his family team.

No. 78: Garrett Smithley will race full time for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

No. 98: Riley Herbst returns to this ride and will have Cole Custer as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

 

 

Dr. Diandra: 2022 by the numbers: Overview

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The champion has been crowned and the desert wind has swept away the last bit of confetti from Victory Lane. That means it’s time for a numerical overview of the 2022 season.

I’ll start with a broad overview of who raced, when they raced and where they raced. In the coming weeks, I’ll delve deeper into topics like penalties, accidents and loop data stats. That analysis will focus on comparing drivers, but also comparing the Next Gen car’s performance against the previous car.

Logistics

45: The number of Cup Series races NASCAR officiated in 2022. That total includes:

  • The 36-race season
  • The Busch Clash
  • Two Daytona Duels
  • Four heat races for the Bristol dirt race
  • The All-Star qualifying race.
  • The All-Star Race

38: The number of points-paying races run in 2022. This includes the Daytona Duels because they award stage points.

28: The number of tracks visited. The Bristol asphalt and dirt circuits each count one and this number includes the temporary track at the L.A. Coliseum.

20 different states hosted races in 2022.A pie chart showing the distribution of track types on the 2022 schedule

7: The number of intermediate track races. The proportion of visits to 1.5-mile tracks has decreased steadily since 2011, when the schedule featured 12 intermediate track races.

6: The most superspeedway races in the Cup Series schedule ever. With the transformation of Atlanta, two races shifted from the intermediate to the superspeedway category.

6: The number of road course races. That’s one fewer than the record, seven, which was set in 2021.

3: The number of “other” tracks on the schedule. This category comprises large ovals that aren’t superspeedways, like Michigan, Pocono and Fontana. The series made the smallest number of visits to “other” tracks this year, in part because Michigan and Pocono dropped to one race each this year.

4: The most races in any one state: Virginia. The series raced three times each in Florida and Tennessee. If the Busch Clash is included, California also hosted three races — at three different tracks.

The season of racing

The remainder of this numerical overview focuses on the 36 races that make up the NASCAR season per se.

9,446: The number of laps scheduled to be run in 2022.

9,483: The number of laps actually run in 2022.

  • That’s a bonus of 37 laps and 60 miles, all due to overtime.
  • Last year, the series ran 66 laps (186 miles) less than scheduled.
  • Michael McDowell completed the most laps of the season with 9,380, or 99.91% of all possible laps.

MORE: Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway moving closer to hosting NASCAR

13,011: The total number of miles of racing in the 36 season races.

  • The Earth’s circumference is 24,902 miles, which means that Michael McDowell drove the equivalent of a little more than halfway around the world during the 2022 season.
  • The number of miles of racing is up from 2021, which totaled 12,595.

437,267: The total number of miles Cup Series drivers logged in 2022’s 36 races.

  • That number is down from the 450,039 miles drivers collectively ran in 2021.
  • To put this number in perspective, the mean distance from the Moon to the Earth is 238,855 miles. The total distance run on track during the season is just about to the Moon and back.

Days Raced

0: The number of races that started on a Monday. That might not seem worth noting, but the last time a season had no races start on Monday was 2015. Dover started on a Sunday and, due to rain, finished on a Monday.

8.3%: The percentage of races run on Saturdays. This year represents the smallest fraction of Saturday races since 2002.

91.7%: The percentage of races run on Sundays.

  • That’s the highest percentage since 1990, when 93.1% of the year’s 29 races happened on Sundays.
  • The smallest percentage since 1990 was in 2020, when only 69.4% of races happened on Sunday because COVID rearranged the calendar. But the same percentage of Sunday races were run in 2011 and 2009.

8: The number of races that went into overtime. That’s one less overtime race than in 2021.

0: The number of races shortened by weather and/or darkness.

  • There were two rain-shortened races and one darkness-shortened race in 2021.
  • The last time no races in a season ended early was 2017.

That’s not to say that weather didn’t affect this season’s racing.

3.5: Number of weather-impacted qualifying sessions. Rain cancelled qualifying at both Atlanta races and the summer Daytona race. Drivers completed the first round of qualifying at Nashville before rain kept the top ten drivers from running their second round.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings

3:19:57: The longest red flag of the season for rain, at the Daytona summer race.

  • Nashville comes in second for red flags with two delays for rain and lightning totaling 3:09:03.

Cars, Drivers and Owners

62: The number of drivers starting races in 2022. That’s down slightly from 2021, when 68 different drivers raced.

45 different car numbers were run this year.

6: The most different drivers in a single car number. J.J. Yeley drove 17 races in the No. 15 car. Garrett Smithley, Joey Hand, David Ragan, Ryan Preece and Parker Kligerman filled out the rest of the season.

27: The number of drivers who ran all 36 races. Last year, 31 drivers ran all the races.

5 full-time drivers missed one or more races due to injury or suspension.

36.7: The average number of drivers in each race

19: The number of drivers winning races this year, which ties the record for most different drivers in a single season.

  • Last year had 16 different winners.
  • 2019 and 2022 saw only 13 different winners each.

9: The number of different owners winning races in 2022. That number is up by one from 2021.

  • In 2001, the last year in which 19 different drivers won races, there were 13 different winning owners.
  • The last time nine different owners won races was in 2017.
  • Four organizations that were winless in 2021 won in 2022: Trackhouse, Petty GMS, Richard Childress and RFK. Together, those owners won nine of 36 races.

11: Most races won by a single owner in 2022. Hendrick Motorsports’ four drivers won 11 races total.

  • That’s well short of their total last year of 17.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing went from nine race wins last year to six this year.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing improved from one win last year to three this year.

The season may be over, but there’s still plenty of data to crunch. The results of these analyses tell us not only who had good (or bad) 2022 seasons, but also preview drivers’ likely strengths and weaknesses for 2023.

Parker Kligerman to run full-time in Xfinity Series in 2023

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — NBC Sports analyst Parker Kligerman will race full-time next season in the Xfinity Series for Big Machine Racing, the team announced Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

“Parker brings experience and a huge desire to do this,” team owner Scott Borchetta said. “That was our first conversation, ‘Do you still have the fire to go and run for a championship, or have you become more part-time?’ It’s just things that I had to know. 

“He convinced me very quickly, ‘I want to go race hard, I want to go win.’ Our conversations were exactly what I was looking for. … I get to hire a star and that’s what Big Machine has always been about, whether it’s our (music) artists that we sign or the product. Now, we’ve got a star in the car.”

MORE: Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Martinsville 

The 32-year-old Kligerman last ran a full season in a NASCAR series in 2013 in the Xfinity Series. He has made 110 Camping World Truck starts, 56 Xfinity starts and 30 Cup starts in his career. He has three career Truck wins, including earlier this season at Mid-Ohio. 

“It’s been such an interesting, gosh, what eight years of doing part-time (racing) and TV and jumping around in different rides and trying to find a home … where I felt like was a place that had the intention to go win and accepted what I like to do outside the car, which is promote the sport in a lot of ways, and could set me for potentially a future in terms of growing with that organization.”

Kligerman said he intends to continue running select Truck Series races next year with Henderson Motorsports and also continue his pit reporting duties with NBC Sports for Cup races.

Next season will be the third season for Borchetta’s Big Machine Racing team. The team scored its first Xfinity victory this season with Tyler Reddick at Texas in the spring. Reddick is one of 10 drivers who have driven the No. 48 car this season. Reddick has driven five races for the team. Ross Chastain has raced for the team twice and Kligerman has run one race for the team. The team is affiliated with Richard Childress Racing.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Homestead-Miami Speedway

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Homestead-Miami Speedway will be Playoff Central for NASCAR this weekend.

Playoff races are scheduled in all three national series at the South Florida track, which hosted the Cup season finale from 2002 to 2019.

MORE: NASCAR suspends Bubba Wallace for one race

The second race in the Cup Series Round of 8 is scheduled Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC). The Xfinity Series playoff race is set for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET (USA Network), and the next-to-last race of the Camping World Truck Series season is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET Saturday (FS1).

MORE: NASCAR NBC Sports Power Rankings

The 1.5-mile track is a favorite of several Cup Series drivers and typically produces competitive racing.

Joey Logano enters the weekend breathing easily. He won last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to earn a spot in the Cup Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway Nov. 6. The remaining seven drivers in the Round of 8 will be wrestling for the other three spots at Homestead and, for those still looking, at Martinsville Speedway Oct. 30.

Is the 20th winner out there?

Cup drivers stand one win short of breaking a rather sturdy record. Nineteen different drivers have won races in five seasons: 1956, 1958, 1961, 2001 and this year.

With three races remaining, it seems unlikely that a 20th winner will arrive, but it’s also true that some significant names haven’t won this year.

MORE: Joey Logano says Bubba Wallace could have cost Kyle Larson his life

That list includes Ryan Blaney (a playoff driver), Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger.

Three of those drivers might see season winning streaks end. Keselowski has won at least one race in 11 straight seasons, while Truex (seven) and Blaney (five) have shorter streaks.

It’s noteworthy that the past 10 races this season have been won by 10 different drivers, and the past seven races have been won by seven different organizations.

Will Ross be boss?

Although Ross Chastain hasn’t won a race since Talladega in April, a case can be made that he’s a favorite Sunday.

Chastain’s record on 1.5-mile tracks this season is excellent.

He has finished runner-up three times on 1.5-milers, has scored two stage wins and has led 383 laps, the most of all drivers on 1.5-mile tracks by 118 laps. He has an average finish of 6.4 on 1.5-mile tracks, the best by more than three positions, and his 1.5-mile track total of points earned is 79 more than the second-place driver (William Byron) in that category.

Chastain is second in the playoff standings entering the race and is plus-18 points to the cutline.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick fast at Homestead

Two non-playoff drivers — Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick — will be among the favorites Sunday at Homestead.

Busch, in the final three weeks of a successful run with Joe Gibbs Racing, is a two-time Homestead winner and has finished in the top 10 in the past seven races at the track. He has won 16 times on 1.5-mile tracks.

Harvick won at Homestead in 2014 and has an impressive overall record at the track with 12 top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 7.3.

Entry lists

Thirty-six teams are entered for Sunday’s 400-mile Cup race. Among the non-regular drivers are AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Landon Cassill.

Homestead Cup entry list

Forty-one teams are on the entry list for Saturday’s Xfinity race. Included are drivers Julia Landauer and Nick Sanchez.

Homestead Xfinity entry list

The Camping World Truck Series entry list has 37 teams, including trucks for Ryan Preece and Parker Kligerman.

Homestead Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Oct. 21

Forecast: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of a shower. High of 81.

4 – 4:30 p.m. — Truck practice

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying

6:05 – 6:35 p.m. — Xfinity practice (USA Network)

6:35 – 7:30 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 22

Forecast: Mostly sunny. High of 83.

10:05 – 10:50 a.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

10:50 – noon — Cup qualifying (NBC Sports App, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

1 p.m. — Truck race (134 laps, 201 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (200 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 23

Forecast: Mostly sunny. High of 85.

2:30 p.m. — Cup race (267 laps, 400 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)