NASCAR Cup Series: Top two candidates to be ‘next’

Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing Team, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing Team, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Four of the first 11 races on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule were won by drivers who entered the year without any wins.

Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric opened up the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season by winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. In his first race as a full-time driver, he earned the first victory of his career, making him the 199th driver to win a Cup Series race.

Just three weeks later, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe, a rookie last year, became the second first-time winner of the season, winning at Phoenix Raceway to become the 200th Cup Series race winner.

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And two weeks later, Ross Chastain delivered the Justin Marks and Pitbull-owned Trackhouse Racing Team their first ever Cup Series victory by earning his own first victory in an epic finish at Circuit of the Americas to become the 201st.

While no new first-time winners have emerged since then, Chastain has since added another win at Talladega Superspeedway.

But don’t expect it to be too much longer before more drivers get their first victories, two in particular.

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Trackhouse Racing Team’s Daniel Suarez have been on the verge of securing their first career wins this entire season thus far.

Most notably, Reddick was one turn away from winning the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway before he was taken out by Briscoe. He still nearly won the race, as Kyle Busch passed him and beat him to the checkered flag by only 0.330 seconds. The runner-up finish was the fourth of Reddick’s career, and he owns two other top five finishes this year.

Suarez led late in the season’s second race at Auto Club Speedway before settling for fourth place. While he hasn’t finished higher than 12th since the season’s fifth race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when he also finished in a season-high fourth, he has run well and, like teammate Chastain, has consistently shown speed capable of winning.

Reddick and Suarez both rank inside the top nine in laps led this season. Only one other driver inside the top nine, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, hasn’t won a race this year. But Blaney has seven career wins and at least one win in five straight seasons entering 2022.

But just how significant is that ranking? Aside from Reddick and Suarez, the career winless driver who has led the most laps this year is Live Fast Motorsports’ B.J. McLeod, who is tied for 25th in that category. McLeod, who isn’t a full-time driver, sits in 33rd in the point standings with a top finish of 19th and an average finish of 28.89.

So Reddick and Suarez are clearly on another level in that respect, and it looks as though it’s only a matter of time before they break through, presumably as race winners number 202 and 203 in Cup Series history.

The recent strength of Reddick and Suarez isn’t the only thing that points toward them finding victory lane at some point in the near future. Both drivers compete for teams that seem to have made significant improvements upon the introduction of the Next Gen car, and the performances of their teammates back that up.

Reddick’s teammate, Austin Dillon, hasn’t won yet this year, but he has finished in second place twice and recorded an additional third place finish. And we already touched upon the success of Chastain, who is tied for the series lead in wins, leads the series in top five finishes, and ranks fourth in laps led, despite the fact that he entered the year without a win.

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Will Reddick or Suarez win this coming Sunday afternoon’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway? Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 8 for the live broadcast of the race. Take advantage of the opportunity to start a free trial of FuboTV today!