Chris Buescher became the 19th different winner in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, tying a series record set in 1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001. This year, the series reached 19 winners after 29 races – in contrast to 19 winners after 36 races in 2001, after 54 races in 1956, after 47 in 1958 and 42 in 1961.
This weekend at Texas Motor Speedway could be the first of four chances for the NASCAR Cup Series to set a new record for most different race winners in a single season.
Ryan Blaney, a playoff driver, won the last Cup race held at Texas Motor Speedway. However, it was the All-Star Race back in May that didn’t count as an official points race.
In the All-Star Race, Blaney led 84 straight laps and won, even through four cautions and a loose window net during overtime. Although the race didn’t count for points, it further proved his standout record in the nine races on the new Texas Motor Speedway layout:
- 403 laps led (2nd-best among entered drivers with at least five starts)
- 341 points scored (2nd-best)
- 3 Top-5 finishes (T-3rd best)
- 7 Top-10 finishes (T-3rd best), a 12th-place finish
- 9.7 average finish (4th-best)
Blaney has also led 40 or more laps in four of his nine starts on the new Texas layout, including two starts where he led 148 or more laps.
With a Round of 8 spot on the line and Talladega looming, Texas could be Blaney’s chance to snap his 39-race winless streak.
At Talladega, Brad Keselowski could again appear on everyone’s radar after a solid run in the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race. Keselowski has led 193 laps this season – including 109 laps led at Bristol and a race-high 67 laps led in the Daytona 500.
Keselowski hasn’t had a winless season since 2010. With his superspeedway prowess and how close he came at Bristol to winning – and the improvement RFK Racing has shown – Talladega could be the 2012 Cup champion’s best opportunity to win for the first time as an owner-driver.
Another driver with prowess at a specific track is A.J. Allmendinger, who contended for the win at Circuit of the Americas and Watkins Glen. Allmendinger fought Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman hard at COTA and dogged Kyle Larson from second at Watkins Glen. He also finished ninth at Road America and seventh at the Indianapolis road course, where his last Cup win came in July 2021.
Allmendinger has never won at the Charlotte Roval in the NASCAR Cup Series but has won the last three NASCAR Xfinity races at the track. With the momentum he’s carrying in his Cup starts this year and his wherewithal around the Roval, Allmendinger could spoil the playoff drivers and earn his first Cup win of the season.
At Las Vegas, a Championship 4 spot will be on the line but so will Martin Truex Jr’s arguably best chance left to finally win in 2022. Truex has finished no worse than 12th at any of the intermediate-track races this season, including the March Las Vegas race when he raced teammate Kyle Busch side-by-side for the win before a caution fell and set up an overtime that knocked him back to 8th.
In the nine starts at Las Vegas since his first win at the track, which came in March 2017, Truex has led the field with only one finish outside of the top 10, a 6.4 average finish and 378 points earned.
If Truex can sniff a win late in such a frustrating year, no matter the circumstances, the 2017 Cup champion will likely do what he can, within reason to ensure he doesn’t go winless for the first time since 2014.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race, the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, goes green just after 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch it on USA Network and the NBC Sports app or listen on PRN or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90.