The NASCAR Cup Series point standings after the first four races of the 2022 season look very interesting to say the least.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe earned the first victory of his NASCAR Cup Series career in last Sunday’s Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway, making him the second first-time winner of the 2022 season and the fourth winner through four races on the 36-race schedule.
Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman are the other three drivers who have found victory lane so far this season, winning at Daytona International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, respectively.
The start of the Gen 7 era has been an interesting one to say the least, with several drivers we aren’t accustomed to seeing at the front contending for wins.
The parity has been on another level. The list of drivers who easily could have their names on the winners list at least once through the season’s first four races is easily longer than the list featuring whichever 16 drivers end up qualifying for the playoffs.
Through two races, only one driver had more than one 10 finish. Through four races, only two drivers have more than two.
But even with that crazy statistic considered, one look at the point standings might have you scratching your head.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano, whose best finish of the season is a fifth place effort at Auto Club Speedway, is the points leader (136 points).
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, whose best finish of the season is a fourth place effort at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, sits in second place (132 points).
And Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, whose best finish of the season is a ninth place finish effort at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, sits in third place (131 points).
So not a single one of the drivers in the top three in the point standings has a single top three finish through four races. Really.
Stage racing naturally plays a key role in this even being possible, but given the parity we’ve seen so far in 2022, it goes beyond that.
Interestingly enough, these three drivers actually rank toward the top of the chart in average finish. Logano sits in third (12.00), Busch sits in second (7.75) and Elliott sits in sixth (14.00). Elliott is just one spot (0.25 per race) removed from being just behind Logano and Busch. Almirola, who sits in sixth in points, leads all drivers with an average finish of 7.25.
Busch is also the only driver aside from Almirola with three top 10 finishes so far this year, and both Logano and Elliott are among those tied for next best in that category with two.
But even with that factored in, you would never expect these numbers — again, numbers which fail to include a single top three finish — to be worth of occupying the top three spots in the point standings.
Four drivers (Larson, Briscoe, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, and Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain) have two top five finishes so far this season, and none of them rank in the top three. They sit in a fourth place tie (Larson and Briscoe), seventh (Blaney), and 14th (Chastain).
And here’s something somewhat unrelated which is also worth considering about the standings.
Leading the points is the 2018 champion, and he sits ahead of the 2019 champion, the 2020 champion and the 2021 champion from second through fourth place, respectively.
And who sits in fifth? Briscoe.
Technically, Briscoe and Larson are tied for fourth place, but the reigning series champion owns the tiebreaker. Both have one win, but Larson’s next best finish, a second place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is better than Briscoe’s next best finish, a third place finish at Daytona International Speedway.
And unlike the top three, they both possess a top three finish — in fact, two each.
The fifth race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season is the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, which is scheduled to take place this Sunday, March 20. This race is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to start your free trial of FuboTV today!