NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Daytona 500: What Do We Know About The Competitors For 2022?

Editor’s Note: This article on next month’s Daytona 500 is posted in collaboration with an outside sponsorship client. The opinions and information contained within do not necessarily represent Frontstretch and its staff. 

First up on the NASCAR calendar each year, no event gets a buzz going among fans to quite the same extent as the Daytona 500.

This crown jewel race, held each year on the hallowed grounds of Daytona International Speedway in Florida, has been referred to as the Super Bowl of stock car racing. Each time it’s held, the entire motorsports world stops to catch a glimpse of this unique event held just a week after the NFL’s own Super Bowl.

The 2022 Daytona 500 is due to be held on February 20. Despite being several weeks away, it is already generating a fair amount of comment on fan forums, NASCAR websites and sports betting platforms alike.

The likes of Bookmakers.com collate the best in motorsports betting sites, and if the operators on here are anything to go by, this year looks set to be particularly epic.

What details do we know about this year’s Daytona race with the date fast approaching?

What does the defending winner have in store?

Having secured one of the biggest upsets in Daytona 500 history, all eyes will be on Michael McDowell as he sets his sights on another victory in the upcoming 2022 Daytona 500.

The 2021 victory was McDowell’s first career NASCAR Cup Series race win. It occurred in stunning fashion after Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked their way out of the competition on the final lap.

The crash occurred in the midst of an epic tit-for-tat battle for top position on the backstretch, with McDowell taking the lead in a dramatic manner as most of the lead draft crashed around him.

In doing so, McDowell also managed to edge out the reigning NASCAR Cup champion, Chase Elliott, and 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. It was his first ever Cup Series win in over 358 starts!

McDowell is set to stick with Ford for the 2022 season and will remain in the No. 34 Mustang run by Front Row Motorsports. He’ll be joined by a new teammate in Todd Gilliland who will compete for NASCAR Rookie of the Year.

Gilliland is a 21-year-old driver who has already showed a lot of promise, moving up from FRM’s Camping World Truck Series team. Although a promising driver in his own right, Todd has been generating a fair amount of interest thanks to his father, David Gilliland, who previously drove for this organization from 2010 to 2015.

Although McDowell went into last year’s race as a 100-to-1 underdog, that will most certainly not be the case this year. However, given the circumstances in which he secured victory, there is a question as to what his chances of success will be to repeat. Only a handful of drivers have won back-to-back Daytona 500s, with Denny Hamlin the lone driver to do so this century (2019-2020).

Considering McDowell’s underdog status, he’s even more of a longshot. A strong start faded as the 2021 Cup season progressed, leading to a 16th-place finish out of 16 drivers to make the postseason.

Team changes to keep an eye on

As is always the case when the competition for talent is so fierce, the 2022 NASCAR season will see a number of team changes take effect.

Although there are way too many to list, a few unanswered questions still remaining a month out, here’s a few main adjustments to keep an eye on.

  • Former champions Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski will make moves in 2022. Busch will join a new No. 45 Toyota fielded by 23XI Racing (Michael Jordan’s team) while Keselowski will join the Roush Fenway Racing group in 2022 as part of a driver-ownership deal. He will drive the No. 6 car.
  • Ross Chastain will make his debut with Trackhouse Racing Team, as will crew chief Phil Surgen. TRT purchased the Chip Ganassi Racing organization Chastain drove for effective the end of the 2021 season.
  • Austin Cindric will officially make the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series, where he will pilot the No.2 Team Penske Ford. The 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion had one top-10 finish in a limited Cup schedule last year.

Although Silly Season still has a bit of time left before it draws to a close, expect these notable crew and team changes to make an impact heading into the Daytona 500 and the debut of the sport’s NextGen chassis.

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Zach Cross

Is Ryan Newman going to be in the Daytona 500 this Year?

Echo

Doubt it. He closed down his Ryan Newman motorsports web store 3 days before Christmas.

Jeremy

The should quit referring to it as a “Crown Jewel Race”. It’s a “Crown Jewel Lottery”.

Bill B

Agree. Most years the winner (and even moreso the top 10) are determined by who didn’t get in a wreck (usually that someone else caused). But then, even the championship has a bit of a lottery factor, doesn’t it?

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