The lid has been closed on the 2022 NASCAR season with the awards banquet last week in Nashville.
With the season over, it’s a good time to look at the top drivers in the Cup Series. One could simply look at the Cup Series point standings, but we wanted to take a broader look at their performance.
This week, we will go through drivers 12-6 with the top five revealed next week.
12. Martin Truex Jr.
(No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Truex posted the best record of any driver over a five-year stretch from 2017-21 with 24 wins, the 2017 championship and three runner-up points finishes.
It made the 2022 season perplexing when he failed to win a race and missed the playoffs. Truex seemed to have the car to beat at Darlington, but his overall performance of four top-five finishes over the course of the season was nowhere close to his previous five seasons.
Still, Truex is a good bet to bounce back in what could be the 42-year-old driver’s final season in 2023.
11. William Byron
(No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
Byron started off the 2022 season on fire with two early wins, cooled off in the middle of the season and advanced to the final eight of the playoffs.
If the rankings were based solely on potential, Byron would be near the top as the 25-year-old seems to be just now coming fully into his own as a driver. He has four career wins and this was his first season with multiple victories.
However, Byron wasn’t as consistent as previous years with 11 top-10 finishes his lowest since his rookie year of 2018.
10. Ryan Blaney
(No. 12 Team Penske Ford)
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2022 season was that Blaney failed to reach victory lane.
He had runner-up finishes at the second Talladega race and the final race of the season at Phoenix. He led 636 laps, the most of any driver without a win in 2022. The son of former Cup driver Dave Blaney has shown an ability to perform at all kinds of tracks, even the road courses.
Blaney, 31, has seven career wins in seven full-time seasons at the Cup level.
No. 9 Ross Chastain
(No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet)
The runner-up in the 2022 point standings, Chastain was the breakout star of the season.
The 33-year-old Florida native made the most of his first season in top-flight equipment with his first two career victories and 21 top-10 finishes, which was best in the sport. He was a lightning rod of controversy at times with his take-no-prisoners style of driving.
His video-game move riding the at the end of the Martinsville race to advance to the championship race is arguably the greatest ever pulled off at a NASCAR race.
No. 8 Christopher Bell
(No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
While Chastain’s move grabbed the highlights, Bell scored the walk-off win at Martinsville.
He also won in similar fashion the previous round of the playoffs on the Charlotte Roval. Bell scored three wins overall, and if the ranking was based on versatility in all kinds of race cars, he would be second only to Kyle Larson.
Entering his fourth season at NASCAR’s top level, the 31-year-old Oklahoma driver is just now hitting his stride.
No. 7 Kevin Harvick
(No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
At 47 years old, Harvick remains one of the sport’s best drivers.
The 2014 NASCAR champion has experienced a mixed bag of results the last three seasons. He went from a career-high nine wins in 2020 to a winless 2021 and two wins in 2022. He’s supposed to announce by the Daytona 500 whether or not 2023 will be his last year behind the wheel.
Underrated for much of his career, his 60 victories tie Kyle Busch for the most among active drivers and ninth on the all-time win list.
No. 6 Tyler Reddick
(No. 45 23XI Racing)
Reddick edged out fellow California racer Harvick for the No. 6 spot.
He has been an emerging the last few seasons, but the equipment with the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet finally matched his talent in 2022. Perhaps the most impressive part is his improvement to one of the best road racers in the sport.
Going to 23XI Racing with the support of Toyota behind him, Reddick should add significantly to his first three career wins of last season.
Jonathan Davenport passed fellow Georgia racer Brandon Overton for the lead with six laps to go to the $40,000-to-win Sunshine 50 at Florida’s All-Tech Raceway last Saturday night.
He also captured the XR Super Series championship, giving the dirt late model driver over $2 million in earnings for the season. Johnson City racer Jensen Ford finished eighth in the 24-driver main event.
BYE TO A LOCAL LEGEND
Clive “Brogie” Broyles, a multiple-time dirt track champion at Volunteer Speedway, Newport Speedway, Kingsport Speedway and Wythe Raceway, died Tuesday.
Driving the red and white No. 43, he was frequent winner in the old 6-cylinder classes. Broyles also fielded the car which Randy Ford, uncle of Jensen, used to win the Late Model championship at Volunteer Speedway in 1996.
Broyles was inducted into the Volunteer Speedway Hall of Fame in 2021.
Outside of racing, Broyles enjoyed a long career as a 18-wheel truck driver.