The NASCAR Cup Series is ready to take to the finish line.
The only weekend of the 2022 season is in the rearview mirror. Sunday race in Nashville (5 p.m. ET, NBC) is the first of 20 races in 20 consecutive weekends by the season finale race in Phoenix on November 6.
The 20-race final kick consists of the last 10 regular season and 10 end season races. It’s no exaggeration to say that the last 10 races of this regular season have a bit more significance than in previous years whether given the number of winners so far in 2022.
Twelve drivers won the race during the first 16 races of the season. Only William Byron, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano have won multiple races. Neither of them has won more than two races so far this season.
With 16 drivers on the field, there’s only room for four drivers without a win at the moment. Drivers such as Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick are yet to win. Blaney and Truex feel like very safe bets for wins soon. Take a win from Harvick or someone like Christopher Bell or Tyler Reddick or a surprise driver and there’s a chance the playoffs will consist of only winners for the first time since it expanded to 16 drivers in 2014.
Sunday’s race is the second race in the Cup Series at the Nashville Superspeedway. Kyle Larson won his inaugural Cup race on the track a season ago when he drove 264 out of 300 laps in the race. You wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Larson is a BetMGM favorite on Sunday.
The 1.33-mile concrete track is unlike any other on the Trophy Series schedule. There is no other concrete intermediate path. While Nashville may have a similar shape to other 1.5-mile ovals on the calendar, its type of sidewalk means that it doesn’t have much in common.
Here’s what you need to know about Sunday’s race. It’s also the first race of the season for NBC. The broadcaster will broadcast the rest of the cup series season on its networks. NBC should be an upgrade on Fox by default, especially for those of us who are getting more and more frustrated during the week with Fox’s funky coverage.
Kyle Larson (+500)
(+700) Kyle Bush
Ross Chastain (+800)
Chase Elliot (+900)
Denny Hamlin (+1000)
Joey Logano (+1000)
Busch is one of the few drivers in the field to have won the Xfinity Series on the track. Bush won in 2009 and 2021 in Nashville. Lugano won in 2009 in Nashville as well, and Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski also racked up racetrack victories in NASCAR’s #2 series. Chastain is the No. 3 favorite thanks to Trackhouse’s overall pace this season and his second spot in the points standings. Elliott must own 10 best cars.
Good average value
William Byron (+1400)
Kurt Busch (+2800)
Byron has been faster than his Hendrick Motorsports teammates at times this season and Sunday could easily be another release. He finished third in 2021. Bosch won Kansas earlier this year and his 23XI team showed they had fast cars on bigger circuits.
Don’t bet on this driver
Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t had the pace that other teams have had on the intermediate tracks this season, and we don’t expect Briscoe to be contended for victory on Sunday.
Looking for a long shot?
Wallace’s team needs to work together. Wallace showed speed at times in 2022, but was unable to produce solid results thanks to pit crew errors, loose wheels and other issues like a blown engine he suffered in Phoenix. If the 23rd player can figure it out, he could challenge Wallace for a win or two before the end of the regular season.