The 2022 Spring Martinsville Race Report covers our first repeat winner, the continuing trend that the polesitter doesn’t win here, and the cautions that weren’t.
NOTE: The race was changed from 500 laps to 400 laps this year for the first time. And run at night.
The 2022 spring Martinsville race report holds the honor of producing the most boring graph of the year to date. Of the four cautions, two were stage ends, one was Denny Hamlin stalling and one accident happened in the final laps. That’s far short of last year’s 15 cautions (which would be around 12 scaling from 500 to 400 laps).
About 9% of this year’s race was run under caution.
The 2022 Spring Martinsville race report counts five lead changes over 403 laps. Two of the four drivers leading were quality leaders who led just about all the laps. Blaney led during green-flag pitstops and Austin Dillon led during a yellow flag. Losing position on pit road due to slow stops (Harvick) and penalties (Custer) put drivers in a pit they couldn’t escape.
If you scale lead changes to 400 miles, you find that this was not the least lead changes in a spring Martinsville race in recent memory. That distinction goes to the 2019 race, which had three lead changes in 500 miles
Where Were The Cautions?
After the previous night’s Xfinity race almost broke the track record for cautions, the Cup Series race came close to being the least-caution-filled spring race at Martinsville in the last 20 years.
2018 still wins for the time range shown here because it had about 1.5 cautions per 100 miles, whereas the 2022 spring race had just short of two per 100 miles.
They Wanted a Shorter Race and They Got It
NASCAR shortened the 2022 spring Martinsville race to 400 laps so that it wouldn’t end too late. Unfortunately, a rain/snow/sleet shower delayed the start by about an hour. So while the race ended late, it would’ve ended even later had it been 500 laps. Given the cold temperatures, I’m sure many in the stands were happy not to have had another hour of shivering. And given some drivers’ irritation with how the Next Gen car drove, I bet they were happy, too.
Although green-flag passing was less than in 2021, there was more than in the three years before. The field averaged 3.4 green-flag passes per lap, compared with 5.0 in 2021, 3.1 in 2020, 2.2 in 2019, and 2.1 in 2018.
The margin of victory, 0.30 seconds, was significantly smaller than the last two races: 1.97 seconds (2021) and 4.71 seconds (2020).
A slightly larger percentage than normal of the drivers finished on the lead lap: 52.8%. The average for the last five races is 45.9%.
The 36-driver field tied for smallest field in a spring Martinsville race in the last 20 years. There was only one DNF: the last time that happened was in 2018.
And that’s the 2022 Spring Martinsville Race Report.