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Nashville begins run of 20 consecutive weekends of racing for Cup

The Morning Drive hosts Mike Bagley and Pete Pistone join Motormouths to discuss TrackHouse's success and what is going on with winless drivers like Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

After a weekend off, it’s time to get back to racing for the Cup Series. This weekend at Nashville Superspeedway marks the first of 20 consecutive weekends the series races, going all the way to the season finale in November at Phoenix Raceway.
NBC and USA Network take over broadcasting of Cup and Xfinity races the rest of the season, beginning this coming weekend. NBC Sports will present a total of 39 races (20 Cup, 19 Xfinity) across NBC and USA Network in 2022. The Nashville Cup race airs at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

The first season with the Next Gen has seen 12 different winners in the first 16 Cup races. That leaves four spots open with 10 races left in the regular season. There has never been more than 16 different winners at the end of the regular season. Will this year change that?

That’s just among the storylines to watch as the season resumes.

Looking to return to Victory Lane

Eight drivers who won a Cup race last year have yet to win this season. They are:

Martin Truex Jr.

Ryan Blaney

AJ Allmendinger

Aric Almirola

Brad Keselowski

Bubba Wallace

Christopher Bell

Michael McDowell

First career Cup wins

Four different drivers have won their first Cup race this season. They are:

Austin Cindric (Daytona 500)

Chase Briscoe (Phoenix)

Ross Chastain (Circuit of the Americas)

Daniel Suarez (Sonoma)

This is the most since the series had five first-time winners in 2011 (Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard, David Ragan and Regan Smith).

Stay until the end …

Three races have been determined by a last-lap pass.

Six races have gone to overtime.

Eight races have seen the final lead change take place with five or fewer laps left.

Twelve of 16 races have had the final lead change take place with 10 or fewer laps left.

Changing of the guard? Hold that thought …

After nine of the first 11 races were won by drivers age 29 and under, the older guard has taken control.

Each of the last five races has been won by a driver 30 and over, including two races in that stretch won by drivers more than 40 years old (Kurt Busch, 43, at Kansas and Denny Hamlin, 41, at the Coca-Cola 600).

Do it again

Kyle Larson won last year’s race at Nashville, leading 264 of the 300 laps. Can he repeat?

Ross Chastain finished second in last year’s race. William Byron placed third. Aric Almirola was fourth. Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

Penalties for wheels coming off a car

Ten times this season a wheel has come off a car on track during a race. That is a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two pit crew members. Here is a list of teams that have been penalized for the infraction:

Justin Haley (Daytona 500)

Kaz Grala (Daytona 500)

Todd Gilliland (Auto Club Speedway)

Corey LaJoie (Phoenix)

Bubba Wallace (Circuit of the Americas)

BJ McLeod (Talladega)

Denny Hamlin (Dover)

AJ Allmendinger (Dover)

Justin Haley (Kansas)

Kyle Larson (Sonoma)

Hot days ahead

With the early forecast for Sunday’s Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway calling for a high of 94 degrees, it would be the hottest race of this season.

Hottest races so far this year:

87 degrees — World Wide Technology Raceway (June 5)

87 degrees— Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 29)

85 degrees— Circuit of the Americas (March 27)

83 degrees— Talladega Superspeedway (April 24)

79 degrees— Phoenix Raceway (March 13)