10 Moments Xfinity Knocked Out In The 2022 NASCAR Season
Since entering NASCAR in 2015, you’d be hard pressed to find a foot sponsor for the sport more than Xfinity. The company has branded its name throughout the NASCAR playoffs, becoming the premier partner of the NASCAR Cup Series and marketing its series as names are made.
It’s hard to argue. With Ty Gibbs moving to the Cup Series for the 2023 season, all but one of its champions since 2015 reside at the highest levels of motorsport in North America. 2021 Xfinity Series Champion Daniel Hemric has run a partial Cup schedule with Kaulig Racing in 2022 and will likely do the same this year.
Action on the track has been fierce in 2023, scoring 19 different Cup winners in the 36-race schedule. The Xfinity Series featured Gibbs, Noah Gragson, and AJ Allmendinger stamping their name in the active Cup Series drivers.
Let’s take a look at 10 moments that stood out from the 2022 NASCAR season that included the Xfinity brand.
Before Xfinity’s first co-sponsorship in 2020, Matt Lederer, Comcast’s vice president of brand partnership and amplification, said it was Strategic play picking the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville. And while a paperclip never disappoints, the last half mile in the Xfinity 500 was something no one had seen before.
Ross Chastain decided not to upshift and shift into fifth gear entering turn three. And his viral maneuver against the move earned him a few spots – enough to crack Championship 4. It’s a repeatable but never repeatable move, like everything was on the line for Team No. 1.
The winner of the aforementioned Martinsville race was Christopher Bell. And this was a must. Fortunately for Bell, this wasn’t the first time he’d held the position during the 2022 postseason.
Three weeks ago, Bell, who entered the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL needing a win in order to advance to the last eight, did exactly that. The No. 20 Toyota didn’t have the sheer pace to be a winning car, but his crew chief Adam Stephens made a running call late in the race to look for fresh tires after a flag had been stopped in the middle of the road. Racing groove. Bell made quick work of his competition for second place, before another caution flew. He took the lead from Kevin Harvick and never looked back.
It was another kind of defining moment for Xfinity, which was the presenting sponsor for all three sprints: Bristol Motor Speedway, Roval and Martinsville Speedway.
Ty Gibbs, Noah Gargson Clash
The best rivalry of the Xfinity season—perhaps in all three National Touring series—belonged to Gibbs and Gragson. The two drivers were always in each other’s minds, right up to the last lap of the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
We return to Portland International Raceway as Gibbs shunts Gragson in a downpour. Gragson hinted at having a conversation with Gibbs at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway to tell him how he felt about him. However, the two continued to clash, and Gragson never hid his true feelings for Gibbs, saying, “I don’t like him,” during Championship Week last fall. He took advantage of every opportunity available to convey his thoughts towards the teenager.
What was a fun rivalry in the Xfinity Series, now carries over to the Cup Series for 2023.
Tay Gibbs wins the Xfinity Championship
With Gibbs winning four races in the 2021 season part-time, expectations are very high for Gibbs in 2023. Possibly too high?
The No. 54 team came out of the gate strong, winning a pair of the first five races and three of the first seven races. But then there was a nine-race drought until Gibbs edged out Kyle Larson at Road America in early July. He continued to dominate at Michigan International Speedway in early August, before going winless through the rest of the summer.
Gibbs has been the center of much controversy, having altercations with drivers like Gragson (all season) and Ryan Sieg (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) and even getting into a fight with Sam Mayer in April at Martinsville. What stands out remarkably is him Unapologetic running With Brandon Jones in Martinsville. He smashed his teammate while fighting for the win, despite already securing a spot in Tournament 4.
Gibbs went into the championship race with a massive bullseye on his rear bumper, but nobody did anything about it. He went on to win the title by less than half a second over arch-rival Gragson and raced cleanly throughout the 200-lap race.
The Big 3 of the Xfinity Series moves on to the Cup
The three winning Xfinity drivers in 2022 earn an invitation to jump into the Cup Series. Gibbs will do so by replacing Kyle Busch, though he will look to create his own identity in the No. 54 Toyota. Gragson will move to the Legacy Motor Club with his crew chief for 2022 Luke Lambert. And AJ Allmendinger was an easy pick for Collig to give the nod to her second full-time driver. He’s also the most likely of the three to make the 2023 Cup qualifiers, mainly because of his road-going prowess.
As such when the recalls happen there will be a void to fill in the Xfinity Series for 2023. There are twenty race wins compared to one season ago. But we’ve seen this on repeat the last few years. One or two new drivers named will appear in the series next season.
Best end of the year?
Across the three national divisions, we were spoiled for thrilling finishes in 2022. One of the best was a thrilling final run at Xfinity in September at Darlington Raceway, where Gragson was on top.
Sheldon Creed, needing a win in qualifying, had a spirited battle with Kyle Larson for the last 15 laps. Both drivers scrubbed the fenders and replaced the paint on the wall. This allowed Gragson to close in, moving from third to the lead on the final lap. It was the No. 9 team’s four consecutive wins, a streak that made him the first driver to win four straight Xfinity races in 39 years.
Underdog Stories never disappoints
The races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are captivating. Some drivers fear sprints, while others know it’s one of their few shots to get big finishes. That was the case in August during the Xfinity race at Daytona.
It took three overtimes to complete it, but Jeremy Clements took his second career win, both of which ended on August 27 (Road America, 2017). The No. 51 team shut out the postseason after A.J Disappointing first six months of the season.
Check out this finishing order: Clements was first. Timmy Hill had his career best finish of second. Brandon Brown and Saj Karam took fourth and fifth. Ryan Vargas was sixth, with Alex Lappi, JJ Yeley and Kyle Sigg all rounding out the top ten.
Jeffrey Earnhardt is third behind Richard Childress
In what turned out to be a one-race deal, Jeffrey Earnhardt had a lot to race for at Talladega in April. For the first time in his career, he drove the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series. his crew chief? Larry McReynolds, championship-winning crew chief with Dale Earnhardt, who launched his first race since 2000.
Didn’t you know, Earnhardt put the #3 black machine on the pole before he was a threat in the race. In the second half, he was able to work his way up the field from ninth to second, only behind Gragson.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Earnhardt battle for the win at Talladega, but it was his best result ever.
Jess Ferreira wins the Comcast Community Championship
Off the track, Xfinity’s partnership with NASCAR shines. In November, it was Jess Ferrera He was named the 2022 Comcast Community Champion of the Year For her work with Foster Village Charlotte.
During the pandemic, Ferrera took her parenting license and brought up two siblings. She became the eighth different winner of the award—one for every year Comcast has had a brand name in NASCAR—and her charity, Foster Village Charlotte, took home $60,000. The other finalists were Josh Williams and Sherri Bolix.
Xfinity Rewards customers celebrated in Martinsville
Before that penultimate race of the season at Martinsville, Xfinity Has hosted hundreds of Xfinity Rewards clients, with 24 people attending the VIP experience. Two customers were randomly selected as dignitaries before the race, by giving the command to start the engines and waving the green flag.
Xfinity treated this entire week like an event, as fans and customers were able to stop at Xfinity Stores in Christiansburg, VA, Danville, VA, and Lynchburg, VA, to pick up free tickets to the race. Xfinity Brand Ambassador Kevin Harvick also made time for fans with his appearance at Danville.
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