The Writer’s Roundtable is the weekly column to where our writers discuss one of the trending topics right now in the sport.
In spirit with the new year right around the corner, the question is simple – what are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Ashley McCubbin: The battle for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title has to be on everybody’s list, as the talent in the second-tier series continues to grow. We saw what Josh Berry was capable of, Daniel Hemric had his break-out moment, Ty Gibbs came out flying fast, and now we will combine with that A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, and more. It is probably one of the hardest divisions to pick out who could possibly be the champion just because each is fast, each is unique in their own ability, and could easily emerge out front with the changes the series is experiencing.
Speaking of changes, what are we going to see from the NextGen car in the NASCAR Cup Series? Is the racing going to be as good as we hope? How will the car change the complexion of the series? This is probably one of the most exciting times in the sport, and that’s coming off one of the best seasons we’ve had as a whole in a long time, too. It will be interesting to see how things change and remain the same, as well as who can adapt the quickest.
Mitchell Breuer – I am beyond excited for The Clash. Everything about this has the potential to be something huge for NASCAR. Not to mention the atmosphere, being in the same city as the Super Bowl. Plus, it’s another short track! Something fans have been begging for for years. And if it works, suddenly a new world opens for possible short track racing venues.
Maybe I shouldn’t have as high of expectations but man, it is hard not to get excited about that.
Cole Cusumano – There’s so much to be excited about in 2022 across NASCAR. I think the easiest answer would be the debut of the next gen car, however, there’s more to it than simply the car hitting the track. Will there be enough to field a full season if there are many wrecks in the beginning of the season? Are they safe? What will the on-track product be like? Stuff like that.
I think an underrated aspect specific to the NASCAR Cup Series will be the Rookie of the Year battle between Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton. Both rose through the sport’s ranks together and serves as friends, while also showcasing a bit of a rivalry at time in the K&N Series. Not to mention, they’re part of the sport’s next generation of drivers from families with rich tradition in NASCAR. I’m also curious to see how the next gen car helps or hurts these incoming first-year or sophomore year drivers. I’d have to imagine it levels the playing field a bit, but will we see results right out the gate? Additionally, Austin Cindric will also be in the mix for the ROY race, making it possible one of the most entertaining battles in Cup Series history.
In reference to the developmental series, I want to see how Daniel Hemric does in his title defense with Kaulig Racing. He ended the 2021 season with the ultimate cliffhanger and now he will be racing for a team with a winning pedigree. I’m also curious to see how Josh Berry and Ty Gibbs fare in their first full-time season. It should be yet another competitive year in the NXS.
Finally, there’s the unknowns of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I think we saw the most diverse and exciting campaign from this division in decades. The series and its drivers and still finding their identity and it makes for great television. How will Ben Rhodes back up his championship winning season? Will Hailie Deegan improve in her second full-time season? Does Zane Smith take Front Row Motorsports to the next level? And of course, will John Hunter Nemechek rebound from a disappointing ended to 2021?