NASCAR Awards: 2022 Awards Ceremony, Future Winners Prediction

It’s the end of December. I don’t know if I should look back at last season or look forward to the next season.

How about both?

Here are my attempts at the award edition for 2022 — with a winner prediction for 2023.

The best driver

2022: Joey Logano

Logano hit his peak at the most important moment – at the end of the season. He took everything he learned during the year and was the dominant car in the championship race. He ranks second in the number of wins in the season with four (to Chasing Elliott‘s year).

Joey Logano Wins NASCAR Cup Series

Joey Logano dominated to win the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix Raceway.

2023: Ross Chastain

Chastain is undoubtedly the breakout star of 2022, from not winning a Cup race to competing for the title. If he improves that much in 2023, he will win the most races and titles.

Rookie of the Year

2022: Austin Cindric

Cindric had a much better year than Todd Gilliland or Harrison Burton, and that wouldn’t even be a Daytona 500 win. Without that win, Cindric’s average score is 16.7. Burton’s is 22.8 and Gilliland’s is 23.2.

Rookie Austin Cindric wins Daytona 500 after chaotic finish

After an overtime restart, rookie Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500 in just his second race at Daytona.

2023: Ty Gibbs

Assuming both Gibbs and Noah Gragson billed as a Cup rookie in 2023, Gibbs is racing for an older team at Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that has enjoyed more success than the number 42 car, while Gragson tries to help a the organization is still trying to build the foundation.

Captain of the Year

2022: Adam Stevens

It takes a smart, responsive and confident captain to help a young rider get through some poor finish early and then guide the team with their backs against the wall in the knockout stages. Christopher BellStevens’ progress is a testament to Stevens’ ability.

2023: Randall Burnett

Captain for Kyle Busch has the biggest challenge in making sure Busch has what he needs to win races. Not in 2024. Now. Burnett will succeed in doing that.

Owner of the year

2022: Justin Marks

The owner of Trackhouse Racing not only bought Chip Ganassi Racing but improved its performance as his drivers won three races and Ross Chastain finished second overall.

2023: Maury Gallagher

Petty GMS owner entering his second year in Cup racing currently has Jimmie Johnson as driver/investor. The races of five or more that Johnson participates in as a racer will bring additional interest. His influence can provide additional performance after each race.

Latest moment

2022: Clash at the Colosseum

The event at the Los Angeles Memorial Arena went big as NASCAR built a makeshift quarter-mile track. It will be proof that NASCAR can do this at other locations, especially internationally.

Joey Logano goes on to win The Clash at the Coliseum

Joey Logano held off Kyle Busch for the final five rounds to win the Clash at the Colosseum.

2023: North Wilkesboro

There are two choices here — the all-star race at the North Wilkesboro (NC) Speedway and the Chicago street race. The nod would go to Wilkesboro for the “classic” Field of Dreams feeling that goes back to the roots.

Sadness of the year

2022: Austin Cindric in Daytona 500

It’s no surprise that Cindric would win a race as a rookie, but the Daytona 500? That doesn’t seem very realistic.

Austin Cindric ecstatic after winning Daytona 500

Rookie Austin Cindric spoke to Jaime Little after winning the Daytona 500.

2023: Justin Haley

As an accomplished racer, Haley might surprise some by winning. And like Cindric’s victory, it could come in one of the super-fast lanes. Haley will get a boost from teammate Kaulig Racing AJ Allmendinger to do that.

Most Improved Driver

2022: Chasing Briscoe

From 23rd on the rankings as a rookie to ninth in 2022, Briscoe won a race early, struggled mid-season, but appeared to have showed a new vitality in the knockout round.

Briscoe outlasts Reddick, Chastain in Phoenix

Chase Briscoe earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series win at Phoenix Raceway.

2023: Bubba Wallace

Victory at Kansas in September showed Wallace’s ability on intermediate tracks. He seems to have grown over the course of the season, except for the lousy hook decision Kyle Larson at Las Vegas. If Wallace learns that and there’s no reason he shouldn’t, he could feature in the Nations Cup playoffs for the first time in 2023.

The greatest pain

2022: Ryan Blaney

Blaney did pretty much everything but win a race in the off-season, and then two bad mistakes in the semi-final knockouts dashed his championship hopes. He’s the best racer who barely gets to celebrate anything except winning the all-star race.

Ryan Blaney reflects on the Cup Series season

Ryan Blaney on overcoming recent challenges and the replacements on his team.

2023: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is used to dealing with the pain of not winning a title. So by choosing him, I’m just going with history.

best opponent

2022: Chasing Elliott compare to Kyle Larson

Two of the top riders in the sport and they’re teammates. What more do you need? Hendrick Motorsports’ rivalry seems to be heating up in California and Watkins Glen enough for Larson to point out that he has to be more mindful and is likely to race differently in the future.

Kyle Larson in his clash with Chase Elliott

Kyle Larson says he’s not proud of the action he took to get past Chase Elliott, but it was his only shot at winning.

2023: Kyle Busch vs. Tyler Reddick

Busch replaced Reddick at Richard Childress Racing, it was initially suggested that Reddick chose to leave and announced his departure, in effect for the 2024 season, in July. Both wanted to show that they were on the right track.

The best victory celebration

2022: Daniel Suárez

Hitting a piñata on the winning lane as the first Mexican to win a race is great. Plus, it doesn’t spoil delicious food, like Ross Chastain’s watermelon smash.

Daniel Suárez makes history, wins Sonoma

Daniel Suárez earned his first career win in the Cup Series and became the first native of Mexico to win a NASCAR tournament.

2023: Kyle Busch

Can you imagine what he will do and what Richard Childress will do when they win their first race together? The bows and bras would be awesome.

Looking for more NASCAR content? Subscribe to the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

Think big

One simple thought: Here’s hoping everyone has a great holiday.

This will be the last newsletter for 2022, but we plan to return in the first week of January.

Social focus

They Said It

“It was just a wild ride, let it be that way.” —Ryan Preece on consolidating his 2023 plans and winning the Cup at Stewart-Haas Racing

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsport, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News- Journal. Follow him on Twitter @reedsand sign up FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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