Fox Sports activities concluded its TV broadcasts of the primary half of the 2022 NASCAR season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway with a whole lot of momentum, together with elevated total viewership in Cup Sequence races led not less than partly by the debut of the Subsequent Gen automobile.
The primary half of the season has seen new winners, new faces working up entrance, extraordinary success by new groups (Trackhouse Racing and 23XI Racing) and compelling racing on the observe for probably the most half.
NBC picks up this weekend at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway with drivers combating for his or her playoff lives adopted by the playoffs after which the championship race itself.
Given how the primary half of the season has gone, the 2022 title chase might effectively be certainly one of most charming in years.
An intense battle for the remaining playoff spots
“There’s a heavyweight combat proper now to make these playoffs. Each stage finish issues, each race end issues – it’s all occurring on the time there’s an unimaginable change within the sport with this new automobile and the standard of racing by way of the roof,” mentioned NASCAR Corridor of Fame nominee and NBC analyst Jeff Burton.
“The depth and aggressiveness is thru the roof. It simply makes all the pieces that occurs that rather more essential going ahead.”
Corridor of Famer and two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed.
“We’ve seen a fairly unimaginable season play out thus far. The primary half of the yr has seen a number of the most compelling storylines and a few optimistic momentum with the Subsequent Gen automobile. It’s been quite a bit to soak up for everybody,” he mentioned.
Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fifth Third Financial institution Ford Mustang wrecks
Photograph by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
Earnhardt bought a head begin on his NBC colleagues this yr, when he served as a visitor analyst for Fox’s broadcast of the Talladega Cup Sequence in April.
“I really feel like we’ve an ideal understanding of what sort of product that Fox is handing off to us as we start our a part of the season. I’m trying ahead to getting again within the sales space, speaking about racing,” he mentioned.
“There’s quite a bit to grasp in regards to the Subsequent Gen automobile for everybody throughout the trade and to have the ability to get within the sales space and really work a race was a very nice factor for me. So, I actually appreciated that chance. It bought me much more excited for this a part of the yr.”
Most of NBC’s analysts mentioned the efficiency of the Subsequent Gen automobile has exceeded no matter expectations that they had getting into the season.
Additionally they consider the potential exists for much more drama because the depth grows for groups nonetheless making an attempt to qualify for the playoffs.
“I feel the automobile has been a optimistic shock for me in how a number of the racing has regarded. There have been some moments there was some concern or intrigue,” Earnhardt mentioned. “We all know there’s a tire check at Martinsville proper now and so they’re engaged on that bundle and getting it proper so it places on the race we anticipated. I feel they’re placing a whole lot of effort into making an attempt to make sure they’ll enhance there.
“I’ll be sincere, man, it’s been a far more entertaining automobile than I anticipated on the mile-and-a-halve (tracks). There’s simply been some actually superior moments in the best way the drivers are in a position to race round one another and that’s significantly better than I anticipated.
“I anticipated along with his new automobile and with so many new variables and the best way the underbody is, and the best way the tail is extra centered up, I anticipated it to return with a steep studying curve and a whole lot of collaboration between NASCAR and the groups to proceed to evolve this automobile, however it’s truly been actually good proper out of the gate.”
Burton calls 2022 on-track product ‘superb’
Burton mentioned it’s laborious to think about a season that began with as many unknowns as this one did and but produced as man optimistic developments to this point.
“The standard of racing that we’ve seen is superb,” he mentioned. “We’re seeing guys spinning out by themselves. We’re seeing that you just’re rewarded for actually pushing the bounds of this automobile.
“In the event you’re not keen to push the bounds of this automobile, you most likely can’t go quick sufficient. In case you are keen to push the restrict of the automobile, you’re most likely going to wreck a bit. Not that we need to see drivers wrecking, however we need to see drivers put in a scenario the place it’s actually troublesome.
“There’s no attainable approach anyone can have a look at this automobile and say we aren’t there.”