It’s almost hard to believe the 2022 NASCAR season is already 16 weeks old. That said, it has been quite a 16 weeks with first time and surprise winners, a new car that has proven difficult to get a feel for, and even a few rivalries and even a little controversy.
However, the top form of stock car racing in America pushed the pause button this past weekend in order to take a break from all that has happened so far.
Hopefully NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams enjoyed the Father’s Day weekend they just had off because that will be the last opportunity they will have for some time away from the job for quite a while. The upcoming Ally 400 at the Nashville Super Speedway will kick off a grueling stretch of twenty consecutive weekends in which the tour will be in action nonstop. The season will run all the way to its conclusion as part of this string of races.
Not only will this stretch of twenty contests take the Cup Series to its ending at the Phoenix Raceway in November but the NASCAR Playoffs will begin after the next ten events have played out. Not only is this a long and grueling portion of the schedule but it is also the most important segment of the season. So in a time in which fatigue is likely to set in as teams travel week after week in the intense heat of summer through the cooling temperatures of fall, drivers and crew members need to be at their best if they are to entertain any hope of a championship at season’s end.
A season that began with a driver winning the Daytona 500 in only his 8th career start and has seen three other drivers earn their first victories, some of the sport’s top stars struggle to control their race cars, and conflicts arise between some of the sport’s major players might have even more surprises in store.
Those factors that have made the early weeks of the season so interesting are almost certain to continue when the one week hiatus ends on Sunday evening in Tennessee. But apart from all that has happened so far this year, add in the elements of pressure and fatigue as the campaign plays out and the possibilities for excitement are increased.
Will there be more new winners? Will teams begin to get a handle on the Next Gen car? Will there be more rivalry and controversy?
The answer to all of those questions over the next twenty grueling weeks is almost certain to be yes. So hopefully everyone enjoyed their break this past weekend because they are going to need every bit of recharging they might have been able to accomplish during that time period.
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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