The 2022 Charlotte Race Report reviews records: longest race in terms of distance, largest number of DNFS and a lot of cars involved in accidents.
We start, as usual, with the lead-o-gram and caution-o-gram.
We had 18 cautions for 90 laps, which means 21.7% of the race was run under caution. It wasn’t the longest race in terms of time, but it ran 619.5 miles, which makes it the longest NASCAR race in history.
There were three stage-end cautions, leaving 15 natural cautions.
- Seven spins
- Seven accidents
- One debris caution
Thirteen different drivers led during the 619.5 miles. You can tell from the colors that Ross Chastain led the most laps in the race (153), followed by Chase Elliott (86). Both drivers were involved in accidents that took them out of contention for the win.
- Kyle Larson led 51 laps
- Kyle Busch and Daniel Suárez each led 36 laps.
There were 30 lead changes, which isn’t too different than the 27 we had at the Coca-Cola 600 last year, or the 30 the year before.
Graph of the Race
I like to choose one graph that highlights the nature of each race. For this race, it’s gotta be the lead-lap finish graph.
Only 16 drivers finished on the lead lap. 17 didn’t finish the race running. With 37 cars in the field, that’s a 45.9% DNF rate.
It’s not unusual for about 45-50% of the drivers to finish on the lead lap. But the DNF rate is extraordinary. Fifteen cars DNF’d the fall race at Charlotte in 2005. That was only 504 miles, so there was greater attrition per mile. But there were also 43 cars in the field, for a DNF rate of 34.9%.
The Cost in Cars
Eighteen is not a record for cautions at Charlotte. The record is 22, with was at the same race I referenced above. We did, however, set a new record for number of cars involved in accidents and spins.
Remember that some cars were involved in more than one accident or spin: They do get counted twice on this graph. I figure that’s fair because they get additional damage in the second (or subsequent) accidents. We had seven spinning cars, and 29 additional cars involved in accidents in this race.
Survival Won over Speed and Skill
Here’s the graph of which drivers had the fastest laps:
The drivers who led 143 out of 413 laps (34.6%) finished 15th, 25th, and 33rd. The 2022 Charlotte race reminded me far too much of a superspeedway race, where some of the best cars got taken out through no fault of their own.
Positives for the 2022 Charlotte Race Report
- We did get a close ending. Last year, Kyle Larson ran off with the win, leading with more than 10 seconds at the finish line. This year, Denny Hamlin’s MOV was only 0.12 seconds, one of the smallest margins of victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
- Cliff Daniels, Kyle Larson’s crew chief, noted that they were the “most penalized team” in the race. Despite three penalties (and crashing and being on fire), Larson managed a ninth-place finish.
- With Denny Hamlin’s win at age 41.55 years, the average age of race winners is now 31.34 years.
- Finally, we are seeing a larger swathe of the field being competitive as based on the average and typical lap times.
There’s a tail toward the back 1/3 of the field. Most of the names there aren’t too surprising, but driver at which the break starts is Brad Keselowski. RFK has struggled from the start of the season and it’s surprising to see Chris Buescher consistently faster than Keselowski.
And that’s the 2022 Charlotte Race Report.