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NASCAR Schedule for 2022 Cup Series – Previewing This Year’s Key Races

| February 15, 2022 8:12 am PDT

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season will begin in a matter of days. We’ve already had the Busch Light Clash, but now, it’s time for the official start of the 2022 NASCAR season.

That makes this a perfect time to go over the 2022 NASCAR race schedule. The NASCAR Cup Series schedule saw a few moving parts for the 2022 season. Let’s go over the 36-race schedule for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

2022 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Race
1. Daytona 500 (Daytona)
2. Wise Power 400 (Auto Club)
3. Pennzoil 400 (Las Vegas)
4. Ruoff Mortgage 500 (Phoenix)
5. Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (Atlanta)
6. EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (COTA)
7. Toyota Owners 400 (Richmond)
8. Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 (Martinsville)
9. Food City Dirt Race (Bristol Dirt)
10. Geico 500 (Talladega)
11. DuraMAX Drydene 400 Presented by RelaDyne (Dover)
12. NASCAR Cup Series Race (Darlington)
13. NASCAR Cup Series Race (Kansas)
Exhibition: NASCAR All-Star Race (Texas)
14. Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)
15. NASCAR Cup Series Race (World Wide Technology)
16. Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma)
17. Ally 400 (Nashville)
18. Kwik Trip 250 Presented by JOCKEY Made in America (Road America)
19. Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart (Atlanta)
20. Ambetter 301 (New Hampshire)
21. NASCAR Cup Series Race (Pocono)
22. Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (Indianapolis Road Course)
23. FireKeepers Casino 400 (Michigan)
24. Federated Auto Parts 400 (Richmond)
25. Go Bowling at the Glen (Watkins Glen)
26. Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Daytona)
27. Southern 500 (Darlington)
28. Hollywood Casino 400 (Kansas)
29. Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Bristol)
30. AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Texas)
31. YellaWood 500 (Talladega)
32. Bank of America ROVAL 400 (Charlotte Roval)
33. South Point 400 (Las Vegas)
34. Dixie Vodka 400 (Homestead-Miami)
35. Xfinity 500 (Martinsville)
36. NASCAR Cup Series Championship (Phoenix)

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The Daytona 500 will kick off the 2022 NASCAR schedule for the 41st straight season. NASCAR shuffled the schedule early in the season, but nothing major.

World Wide Technology will host its first NASCAR Cup Series race. Daytona will close the regular season for the third straight year. The final ten races of the NASCAR race schedule will mark the playoffs. NASCAR shifted races around in the playoffs, with Homestead-Miami returning.

Now that we know what is the 2022 NASCAR schedule, let’s check out the biggest races of the season.

Biggest NASCAR Races for 2022

The 2022 NASCAR race schedule features multiple crown jewel races. Let’s break down the biggest races of the season.

Daytona 500 (Daytona)

You won’t find a list of the season’s best races that doesn’t include the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race of the season. It kicks off the Cup Series schedule, and every driver wants to capture the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

NASCAR fans have the whole offseason to anticipate the Daytona 500. Some years, it doesn’t live up to the hype, but we’ve seen some thrilling races and finishes.

We have two of the closest finishes in Daytona 500 history in recent memory. In 2016, Denny Hamlin edged Martin Truex Jr. by 0.010. That marked the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.

A few years later, Hamlin edged Ryan Blaney to win his third Daytona 500. Unfortunately, not many people remember that finish because it happened as Ryan Newman had one of the worst crashes in NASCAR history.

Daytona stands alone as the biggest event on the NASCAR Cup Series race schedule. Its status as the biggest race of the season brings in many non-NASCAR fans. That’s why it’s typically the most viewed race of the season.

The threat of the big one brings in the potential for an upset winner. It’s a top race to bet on in 2022.

Southern 500 (Darlington)

The Daytona 500 might be the most prestigious race on the NASCAR schedule, but the Southern 500 is a close second. Darlington has hosted the Southern 500 since 1950, with the race running on Labor Day since 2015.

It has an important spot on the 2022 NASCAR schedule because it marks the beginning of the NASCAR playoffs. This will be the third straight season the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs opens at Darlington.

Thankfully for us fans, we’ve seen a pair of thrilling finishes. In 2020, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. made contact while running first and second with under 25 laps to go. That allowed Kevin Harvick to steal the victory.

Last year, Kyle Larson went for a video game-like move, riding the wall in the final turn to try and pass leader Denny Hamlin.

The move didn’t work, but it was exciting for the fans. You can’t fault Larson for trying in that situation.

It looks like Darlington has found a perfect spot on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The unpredictability and chaos the race brings is the perfect way to open the playoffs. I wouldn’t miss this race on the 2022 NASCAR race schedule.

Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Bristol)

Last season, the NASCAR Cup Series opted to move the Brickyard from the Indianapolis oval to the road course layout. That left an opening for the Cup Series’ fourth crown jewel event. A popular choice to take its place was the Bristol night race.

Bristol has hosted two Cup Series races in every season since 1961, but the night race has always brought more intrigue. In 2020, NASCAR moved the race into the playoffs as the Round of 16 finale. Last year, the Bristol night race was the best race of the season.

There was non-stop action with drivers like Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Chase Elliott battling for the lead. In the end, it came down to Harvick and Larson.

Elliott held up Harvick as the two were feuding late in the race. That allowed Larson to take the lead and the victory. It also led to a post-race fight between Elliott and Harvick.

Motorsports journalist Jeff Gluck has been running a “Was it a Good Race Poll?” for every Cup Series race since 2016. The 2021 Bristol night race holds the top spot with 95.7 percent voting yes. In fact, the top three races were at Bristol.

Bristol should continue to put on a show on the NASCAR race schedule for 2022.

NASCAR Cup Series Championship (Phoenix)

We can’t talk about the biggest races on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule and not mention the championship race. For the third straight year, Phoenix will host the season finale.

The championship race at Phoenix has been kind to Hendrick Motorsports, as Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have won the last two championships. They are both among my early contenders for the 2022 Cup Series championship.

Last year, we saw the lead change numerous times between the Championship 4 contenders. It looked like Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin would battle for the title until a late caution changed the game.

Larson’s pit crew showed NASCAR is a team sport on the final pit stop. A fast pit stop moved him from fourth to first.

The pit stop gave Larson clean air for the final restart. He went on to capture his first career Cup Series championship.

Many people disagreed with NASCAR’s decision to replace Homestead-Miami as the season-finale, but Phoenix continues to act as the final race on the NASCAR race schedule. It’ll be one of the biggest races on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule as long as it’s in that spot.

Underrated NASCAR Events This Year

Now that we know the season’s biggest races, I want to highlight a pair of underrated races on the 2022 NASCAR schedule.

Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma)

For most of the 21st century, Sonoma and Watkins Glen were the only road courses on the NASCAR Cup Series race schedule. Lately, we’ve seen the Cup Series add more road courses, as we’re up to six for the 2022 NASCAR schedule.

There was a lot of hype surrounding new tracks like COTA, Road America, and Indianapolis Road Course. However, I’m willing to say Sonoma remains the best road course on the NASCAR schedule 2022.

Last year, I’d say Sonoma was the best road course race from start to finish. The Indianapolis Road Course featured a thrilling finish, but I can’t say much for the first 70 laps.

What’s so great about Sonoma is the varying pit strategy. Stage racing allows teams to get creative with pit strategy, and that typically means the dominant car will be in the middle of the pack at some point.

In the 2021 race, we saw Kyle Larson drive from the middle of the field multiple times to win both stages and the race. That’s much more exciting than watching one driver lead the entire race.

Sonoma will return to its shorter layout for 2022. The race will be more laps, and we should see more excitement.

NASCAR Cup Series Race (Pocono)

It wasn’t long ago that I was ready to remove Pocono from the NASCAR race schedule. It consistently produced lackluster races with little to no battles for the lead. However, we haven’t seen that in the last two seasons.

NASCAR made an interesting change to the schedule in 2020. They gave Pocono two races on back-to-back days. The doubleheader concept was new to NASCAR, but they wanted to try it out.

In both 2020 races, we saw multiple leaders, but the races came down to Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Harvick held off Hamlin to win the first race, while Hamlin won the following day.

Last year, we saw one of the craziest finishes of the season. Kyle Larson battled teammate Alex Bowman for 20 laps before finally passing him with less than five to go. It looked like Larson would win his fourth straight race until this happened.

The following day, Kyle Busch won a fuel mileage race that saw the top contenders running out of gas. Pocono races see a lot of pit strategy, so it’s not uncommon to see those kinds of finishes.

Can Pocono bring us another great race on the NASCAR 2022 schedule?

Toughest Races on the 2022 NASCAR Schedule

The NASCAR Cup Series features the best drivers in the world, but even the best have a tough time with these races. Here are two of the toughest events of the NASCAR race schedule for 2022.

Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)

The Coca-Cola 600 marks the longest race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. It has been on the NASCAR schedule since the 1960s, and it marks the only NASCAR race over 500 miles.

Because the race is so long, track conditions change throughout the event. The race takes place on Memorial Day Weekend, so the 6 p.m. ET start time puts the drivers in full sunlight. From there, we see the track go from dusk to complete darkness.

Check out the race length for the last five Coca-Cola 600s.

  • 2017: 4:19:22
  • 2018: 4:23:22
  • 2019: 4:50:09
  • 2020: 4:29:55
  • 2021: 3:58:45

Imagine driving your car for over four hours. Now, imagine doing that at speeds north of 135 miles per hour with little to no breaks. NASCAR drivers can go long distances, but the Coca-Cola 600 takes it to another level.

Some drivers are crazy enough to try the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double. They’ll run in the IndyCar race that day, then travel to Charlotte to race in the Cup Series.

Either way, the Coca-Cola 600 is one of the toughest events for a NASCAR driver. Even the most conditioned drivers have a tough time.

Southern 500 (Darlington)

We’ve already talked about the Southern 500 as one of the season’s best races. It just so happens to also be one of the toughest on the 2022 NASCAR race schedule.

Darlington isn’t like your typical oval. It’s an egg shape with different lengths for the straightaways and turns. That means you have to know how to drive both turns to excel at the track.

It’s a narrow track, so you have to ride the wall in turns one and two. It’s not as bad in three and four, but the top will give you more speed. And we have to factor in that there isn’t much room to pass.

Earlier, I talked about the 2020 Southern 500 when Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. made contact battling for the lead. That contact came entering turn one, and it was because of the narrow track.

We know the Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race, but the Southern 500 is a close second. It’s 100 miles fewer, but we’ve seen the race go over four hours. Four hours on a track with the nickname “The Track Too Tough to Tame” isn’t ideal for the drivers.

Advice for Betting on NASCAR in 2022

The first step to betting on NASCAR in 2022 is knowing the Cup Series schedule. Now that you have an answer to, what is the NASCAR schedule for 2022, we can talk about the betting landscape.

This season, NASCAR will have a new car that could lead to early-season parity. This might be your best opportunity to find some value. Fans should also make note of a few driver changes.

Lastly, it helps to know where you should place your NASCAR bets. Bettors can visit the top NASCAR betting sites for the best odds during the 2022 season.

Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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