2022 Fontana Report

The 2022 Fontana report highlights the closest race since 2011, and the most caution/accident-filled race ever.

A Close Race

The last three races at Fontana were runaway wins for Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch, and Alex Bowman. This week’s winner, Kyle Larson, won by just 0.195 seconds. Only Kevin Harvick beating Jimmie Johnson in 2011 by 0.144 seconds was closer for races 2005 and after.

A vertical bar chart showing the margins of victory at Fontana from 2005 - 2022

Lots of Racing

A few stats:

  • 22/36 cars (61%) finished on the lead lap, which is higher than usual for Fontana
  • Nine different drivers led for a total 32 lead changes
  • Seven of those nine were quality leaders (meaning they didn’t just lead during caution or pit cycles)
  • The polesitter (Austin Cindric) didn’t lead a lap
  • Tyler Reddick and Erik Jones, names we haven’t seen a lot at the front, led laps and spent a lot of time upfront.
    • Reddick looked like he had the car to beat until he lost a tire.
    • Reddick’s teammate, Austin Dillon, finished second despite not leading any laps and spending less than 60% of his time in the top 15.
    • Jones didn’t spend a single lap outside of the top 15, led 18 laps, and finished 3rd.

The Bad and The Ugly

This was an expensive weekend for a lot of car owners. The 2022 Fontana report’s downside starts with accidents and spins.

A stacked vertical bar chart showing numbers of accidents and spins 2000-2022 at Fontana.

There were 5 accidents, tying the numbers in 2017 and 2008, but there were also 5 spins, which is the most we’ve seen in the last two decades. This wasn’t totally surprising given all the spinning during practice and qualifying.

Cars In Accidents and Spins

The 2022 Fontana race amplified concerns about running short of cars. Just during the race, 10 cars were involved in accidents and another 5 in spins. That’s not a record, however. Even if we account for the fact that the 1998 race ran 500 miles, they still have more accidents per mile than the most recent race.

A stacked vertical bar chart showing numbers of cars involved in accidents and spins from 2000-2022 at Fontana.

On the positive side, the teams that had to repair cars between qualifying and the race said that the process was much faster and easier with the NextGen car than it would have been with the old car.


Technically, the 2022 Fontana race ties the record for number of cautions at 12. The first time that happened was in 2008 — but the race was 500 miles in 2008. We managed to get the same number of cautions in one-hundred fewer miles of racing.

The 2022 Fontana race had 3 cautions per 100 miles, whereas the 2008 Fontana race only had 2.4 cautions per 100 miles. So technically, it’s not really a tie.

A stacked vertical bar chart showing numbers and types of cautions from 2000-2022 at Fontana.
A bar graph showing the number of cautions per 100 miles for fontana races from 2000-2022

Record DNFs

While we had more lead-lap finishes, we also had a lot more DNFs than we usually see at Fontana.

A stacked bar chart showing the number of drivers who finishes on and off the lead lap -- and how many didn't finish at all. The chart covers 2000-2022 at fontana.Fi

Five of the 36 drivers (13.8%) failed to finish the race. That’s by no means the largest. 11/43 drivers (25.6%) failed to finish in 2005. But it is the largest percentage of drivers since 2013 to not take the checkered flag.

Have We Proven Parity?

Yes, several teams we don’t normally see running upfront at Fontana were upfront. But:

  • A Hendrick Motorsports team won the race
  • A number of the drivers we expected to do well here ran into problems.
  • And, as usual, two datapoints does not a dataset make.

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