Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Who Is Each NASCAR Cup Team’s Alpha Driver?

Ryan Blaney grits his teeth at LA Clash, Joey Logano smiles, NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

A rundown of alpha drivers in each NASCAR Cup Series team.

5 Points to Ponder: Something to Talk About, Daytona 500 Edition

#2: Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Discount Tire, #23: Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry McDonald’s, #12: Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK, #43: Erik Jones, Petty GMS, Chevrolet Camaro FOCUSfactor

After a challenging couple of years for NASCAR, the one unmistakable feeling as the green flag flew this past Sunday (Feb. 20) was that stock car racing was back.

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Austin Cindric Snags 2022 Daytona 500 Victory

Austin Cindric Shows Off Ring After Winning the Daytona 500

(Photo: Zach Sturniolo)

Austin Cindric won his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race in only his eighth career start and second in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 20 by barely nipping out 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace by a nose. Following him to the line were Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola, who earned a top-five finish in his last Daytona 500 as a full-time driver.

Cindric is the first rookie to win the Daytona 500 since Trevor Bayne in 2011.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2022 Daytona 500

Austin Cindric wins the 2022 Daytona 500. Photo: NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Many drivers go a lifetime without winning NASCAR’s biggest race, but it took Austin Cindric just eight starts to put that notch on his belt. Cindric powered to the front on the final restart and blocked his way to the win as chaos erupted behind him.

Up to Speed: Brad Keselowski & Austin Cindric Battle at Daytona

#6: Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang Castrol Violet Defense

(Photo: NKP)

One year ago, Brad Keselowski’s frustration was visible.

As the final laps of the Daytona 500 ticked away, Keselowski made a bold move to set himself up for a last-lap pass for the lead on his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano. But when Logano blocked Keselowski’s path forward, Keselowski got hit from behind by Michael McDowell, triggering a frightening crash that knocked out both Penske cars. McDowell went on to win the race, leaving Keselowski without a Harley J. Earl Trophy for at least one more year.

Austin Cindric Arrives With Daytona 500 Win: ‘We’ve Come a Long Way’

Austin Cindric

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

Austin Cindric’s final pit stop couldn’t have been worse.

With Daytona International Speedway’s frontstretch lights illuminating them, the pit crew for Team Penske’s No. 2 Ford was slow and lacked coordination.

They also didn’t even bother to put on safety equipment. One even wore a backpack.

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