Fan’s Guide to the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Cars and Drivers

AVONDALE, AZ – JANUARY 26: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro on pit road during NASCAR Next Gen Testing on January 26, 2022, at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the 2022 season fast approaching, it’s time to look at the cars and drivers that will be on the track starting with the Busch Light Clash at the LA Colosseum this weekend. 

The 2022 Next Gen/Gen 7 Car

There are some big changes for 2022, starting with the car itself.  The Gen 6 car, which debuted in the 2013 season, is gone.  NASCAR will have an all-new Gen 7 or “Next Gen” car on the track for the 2022 season, and it represents a huge departure from how teams traditionally built cars.

The Gen 7 car will feature most major parts being built by third-party manufacturers.  Teams will have to run those parts unmodified.  This change will hopefully drive down costs for teams, and improve the ability of under-funded teams to field competitive cars.  The new car will also feature big changes such as a sequential five-speed transmission instead of the traditional four-speed H pattern stick shift.  It will also have a four-wheel independent suspension, asymmetrical body, and a single-lug 18-inch wheel.  The Gen 7 NASCAR Cup Series car is much closer to modern sports cars found in IMSA, as well as high-performance cars that are available to drive on the street.  Click here for a much deeper look at the Gen 7 car!

In addition to the new car, there are many changes to teams, drivers, and crew chiefs going into the 2022 season.  This NASCAR Cup Series guide is sorted by car number with each driver and crew chief also listed.

No. 1 Chevrolet at Trackhouse Racing

Ross Chastain – Phil Surgen

Late in the 2021 season, the NASCAR world was rocked by the news that the upstart Trackhouse Racing team had purchased Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR racing operation. Trackhouse then consolidated the operation into a lean two-car team. Ross Chastain of Alva, Florida will be racing in his second full-time season in the NASCAR Cup series, though in previous years Chastain had many starts in a variety of under-funded teams before landing at CGR for the 2021 season. With the success Trackhouse had in their first year in 2021, look for them to be even stronger now that they are a two-car team.

No. 2 Ford at Team Penske

Austin Cindric – Jeremy Bullins

With veteran driver Brad Keselowski moving on to take an owner/driver role at RFK Racing, Team Penske has tapped the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion to helm the No. 2 Ford. Cindric will be making his first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Cup series after running a limited Cup Series schedule in 2021. Cindric had some strong runs in his limited 2021 opportunities, so look for him to capitalize on that even further in 2022.

No. 3 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing

Austin Dillon – Justin Alexander

Austin Dillon, the 2017 Daytona 500 winner, returns for his ninth full-time season with Richard Childress Racing.  The No. 3 team had a bit of an off-year in 2021 going winless and missing the playoffs.  Look for the No. 3 team to try to rebound for a strong 2022 season.

No. 4 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing

Kevin Harvick – Rodney Childers

Kevin Harvick returns for his 22nd full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series.  Despite a relatively strong and consistent average finish of 10.9, many fans consider 2021 to be an “off” year for the 2014 Champ.  Harvick had his first winless season in over a decade and is looking to rebound to the dominance the team had in 2020.

No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports

Kyle Larson – Cliff Daniels

After delivering one of the most dominant NASCAR Cup Series seasons in recent memory, the defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson returns to the No. 5 Chevrolet. With a new Gen 7 car, it will be a challenge for Larson and the No. 5 team to be as dominant as they were in 2021, but Larson’s raw talent will go a long way to bridge any gap with the equipment

No. 6 Ford at RFK Racing

Brad Keselowski –  Matt McCall

One of the biggest shocks in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series silly season was the news that Brad Keselowski would be leaving Team Penske to assume an owner-driver role at what was then Roush-Fenway Racing, now renamed to RFK (Roush-Fenway-Keselowski) Racing. The No. 6 car, previously driven by Ryan Newman, had been a mid-pack car, but Keselowski is hoping to reinvigorate the Roush organization and return the team to the dominance they enjoyed in the 90s and 00s.

No. 7 Chevrolet at Spire Motorsports

Corey LaJoie – Ryan Sparks

Corey LaJoie returns to the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. LaJoie had some great runs in the 2021 season, but the team’s overall lack of funding certainly held him back. LaJoie has been quite active on social media and is bullish on the team’s chances for 2022. Spire has made significant investments in equipment during the off-season to prepare for the Gen 7 car, and hopefully, those investments pay off in 2022.

No. 8 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing

Tyler Reddick – Randall Burdett

2022 will be the third full-time season for driver Tyler Reddick. Reddick has shown continuous improvement in the No. 8 Chevy, making the playoffs for the first time in 2021. Though he has yet to find victory lane it seems like only a matter of time before he breaks through. 2022 could very well be a breakout year for Reddick.

No. 9 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports

Chase Elliott – Alan Gustafson

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion returns to the No. 9 Chevrolet for his seventh full-time season in 2022.  Despite putting up a strong defense of his championship, 2021 felt like a bit of a down year for Elliott. The team only scored two victories and felt largely overshadowed by teammate Kyle Larson. The No. 9 team will look to rebound to championship form in 2022.

No. 10 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing

Aric Almirola – Drew Blickensderfer

Despite a win at New Hampshire, 2021 was undeniably a down year for Almirola and the No. 10 team. Almirola recently announced that he would be retiring following the 2022 season, so hopefully, new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer can help send Almirola out with a strong showing for his final season.

No. 11 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin – Chris Gabehart

Denny Hamlin returns for his 17th full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series. Hamlin has made it to the final four in the previous three Cup Series playoffs but has yet to break through for that elusive championship. Will 2022 finally be Hamlin’s year?

No. 12 Ford at Team Penske

Ryan Blaney – Jonathan Hassler

2021 was Ryan Blaney’s best season yet, recording three wins and a 9.6 average finish. Inconsistency in key moments held Blaney back from advancing further in the playoffs, but new crew chief Jonathan Hassler might be just the push the team needs to go all the way.

No. 14 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing

Chase Briscoe – John Klausmeier

2022 will be the sophomore season for driver Chase Briscoe. The team showed promise in 2021, particularly at road courses; however, inconsistency plagued Briscoe’s rookie campaign. With a new car and a year of experience behind the wheel, the No. 14 team is hoping to have a more consistently competitive 2022.

No. 15 Ford at Rick Ware Racing

Various Drivers – Jason Houghtaling

The Rick Ware Racing No. 15 will be driven by a variety of drivers in 2022. The most notable of these drivers will be Ryan Preece. Preece will run several races in the RWR No. 15 and will be backed by an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing. RWR has not been a strong performer over recent seasons; however, with a stronger alliance with SHR, the No. 15 may be a stronger contender than it has been in years past.

No. 16 Chevrolet at Kaulig Racing

Various Drivers – Matt Swiderski

The No. 16 will feature a variety of drivers, rotating between AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric, and Noah Gragson. Kaulig Racing is new to full-time racing in the NASCAR Cup Series for the 2022 season, having run a few part-time races in 2021. Allmendinger scored a win at Indianapolis in the No. 16 in 2021, so this car may be a contender despite being a rotating driver arrangement.

No. 17 Ford at RFK Racing

Chris Buescher – Scott Graves

Chris Buescher returns to the revamped RFK Racing No. 17 Ford for the 2022 season. Buescher had a few strong runs in 2021, and the team is hoping for more consistent success in 2022.

No. 18 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle Busch – Ben Beshore

Two-time Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch returns to the No. 18 Toyota for 2022. Busch has felt like he has been a bit behind the competition over the past two seasons and has attributed that in part to the lack of practice and qualifying in the Covid pandemic. With practice and qualifying to return for the 2022 season look for Busch and the No. 18 team to return to form and be a championship contender this season.

No. 19 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing

Martin Truex Jr. – James Small

Veteran driver Martin Truex Jr will once again drive the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Toyota for the 2022 season. The team had a respectable 2021 season notching two wins; however, was short of the 7-win season the team had in 2020. The 2017 Cup Series Champ will look to capitalize on the momentum the team built in late 2021 for a strong showing in the upcoming season.

No. 20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing

Christopher Bell – Adam Stevens

Christopher Bell will be racing in his third full-time Cup Series season and his second with JGR. The team broke through early in 2021 with a win at the Daytona Road Course but struggled with consistency through the rest of the season. Bell certainly has the talent and equipment to be successful. Look for the now-veteran Bell to lead the No. 20 team to a stronger, more consistent showing in 2022.

No. 21 Ford at Wood Brothers Racing

Harrison Burton – Brian Wilson

Harrison Burton will be running his first full-time NASCAR Cup Series season in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. Burton had a strong season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020 but was a bit off the pace in 2021. Burton certainly has a steep learning curve to climb to rebound for 2022, but the Penske-affiliated No. 21 Ford should provide a good opportunity for a strong rookie campaign for Burton.

No. 22 Ford at Team Penske

Joey Logano – Paul Wolfe

Joey Logano, the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will return to the No. 22 Ford for the 2022 season. Logano had a bit of an off-year in 2021. His only win of the season came in the Bristol Dirt Race in the spring. That’s not to say the No. 22 car wasn’t a contender in 2021. Look for them to be a consistent threat in 2022.

No. 23 Toyota at 23XI Racing

Bubba Wallace – Bootie Barker

23XI Racing and Bubba Wallace will be racing their second season together in 2022. The team had a few strong runs in 2021, most notably a win at the rain-shortened fall Talladega race. Wallace has always been a good superspeedway racer, so look for this team to get a great start at the Daytona 500. The key for them will be to improve on consistency, which was lacking at times in 2021. With veteran Kurt Busch driving the other 23XI entry, it may provide the steady hand necessary for the No. 23 team to find the consistency they need.

No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports

William Byron – Rudy Fugle

William Byron had his best, and most consistent season of his career in 2021. Despite only having one win at Miami, Byron consistently raced in the top five or top ten throughout the season.  Crew Chief Rudy Fugle certainly seems to have steadied the previously shaky Byron, and the No. 24 team will be looking to capitalize on that in 2022.

No. 31 Chevrolet at Kaulig Racing

Justin Haley – Trent Owens

Justin Haley will be running his first full-time season in 2022 with Kaulig Racing, a team also running their first full-time season. Haley has been an Xfinity Series regular for several years and has proven to be a strong contender, particularly on superspeedway races.  Haley also has a Cup Series win, a rain-shortened win at Daytona when he was running part-time with Spire Motorsports. A good showing at the Daytona 500 would certainly be a great launching point for a new driver with a new team.

No. 34 Chevrolet at Front Row Motorsports

Michael McDowell – Blake Harris

2021 Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell will return to the No. 34 FRM Ford for the 2022 season. McDowell got off to a hot start in 2021 with a win at the Daytona 500, followed by some strong performances early in the season. Unfortunately, he faded later in the season and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The No. 34 team is hoping to return to form this season and make another run at the playoffs.

No. 38 Ford at Front Row Motorsports

Todd Gilliland – Seth Barbour

Todd Gilliland will be jumping up to the NASCAR Cup Series after several years in the Camping World Truck Series. Gilliland has a pair of truck wins on his resume, but the jump straight to Cup will provide a steep learning curve for the rookie driver. The No. 38 team had an abysmal 2021 season, so hopefully, a new driver can breathe fresh life into the team.

No. 41 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing

Cole Custer – Mike Shiplett

2021 was an off-year for Stewart-Haas Racing, and the No. 41 team was no exception. Custer scored a win in 2020 but came up empty in 2021. The No. 41 was deep in the pack, or on the wrecker for far too many races in 2021, so hopefully, the team can rebound to a stronger showing in 2022.

No. 42 Chevrolet at Petty GMS Motorsports

Ty Dillon – Jerame Donley

Another big silly season move was GMS Racing buying out the Medallion Group’s stake in Richard Petty Motorsports. The team will grow to a two-car operation, and they will field the No. 42 Chevrolet as one of their entries. Veteran driver Ty Dillon will make his return to the NASCAR Cup Series after running a patchwork of rides at various levels during 2021. With the backing of a successful Truck Series team like GMS, hopefully, the new Petty GMS Motorsports can have a strong 2022 season.

No. 43 Chevrolet at Petty GMS Motorsports

Erik Jones – Dave Elenz

Erik Jones returns for his second season in the No. 43. Jones performed about as expected in the No. 43 in 2021, but hopefully, the new ownership arrangement can reinvigorate the team and lead to better, more consistent results.

No. 45 Toyota at 23XI Racing

Kurt Busch – Billy Scott

23XI is expanding to a two-car operation, and the No. 45 will be the second entry for the team. They have tapped veteran driver and 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch to drive this new car. Busch has become an elder statesman of the NASCAR Cup Series and is well known for being a bedrock asset for teams that can produce consistently strong results that a team can build around. Look for Busch to take a fledgling team once again on his shoulders and do good things with them.

No. 47 Chevrolet at JTG Daugherty Racing

Ricky Stenhouse – Brian Pattie

JTG Daugherty has downsized to a one-car team for the 2022 season.  The No. 47 will be the team’s only entry, and hopefully consolidating resources can lead to more consistent results for them.  Ricky Stenhouse has had occasional strong runs in the car, most notably in the Bristol Dirt Race last season; however, the team has struggled with consistency throughout the past few seasons.

No. 48 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports

Alex Bowman – Greg Ives

Veteran Alex Bowman returns to the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports.  Bowman had a strong, but inconsistent 2021 season.  He scored four wins; however, he also had several stretches of sub-par results.  The team hopes to capitalize on the good aspects of 2021 while also improving on their consistency for 2022.

No. 51 Chevrolet at Rick Ware Racing

Cody Ware – Billy Plourde

The No. 51 will be on the track again in 2022 for Rick Ware Racing.  While the No. 15 RWR entry may benefit from the alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing, no such arrangement appears to be in place for the No. 51.  Perhaps the team can still capitalize on some of the benefits of the SHR deal and get out of the back of the pack for 2022, but time will tell.

No. 77 Chevrolet at Spire Motorsports

Josh Bilicki – Kevin Bellicourt

Not much has been said about the prospects for the No. 77 going into the 2022 season. Teammate Corey LaJoie has been bullish about the prospects for the No. 7 Spire Motorsports entry, so perhaps some of that optimism can be applied to the No. 77. The team rarely found itself out of the back of the pack in 2021, so any performance improvement would be welcome.

No. 78 Ford at Live Fast Motorsports

BJ McLeod – Lee Leslie

Veteran driver BJ McLeod returns in the No. 78 for the 2022 season. Live Fast has been a pet project for McLeod for a while, so perhaps the team can start to capitalize on that growth in the upcoming season.

No. 99 Chevrolet at Trackhouse Racing

Daniel Suarez – Travis Mack

Suarez will drive his second season with the No. 99 Trackhouse entry. The team was brand-new in 2021 and put forth a surprisingly strong effort for a rookie season. With the expansion to a two-car team and the absorption of the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing, look for Trackhouse to have an even better 2022 season.