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New Auto Racing Season Shaping Up For Drivers
2-9 Capps
Ron Capps, in the Funny Car category, is the defending champion and gearing up for a new season, having claimed the championship last year at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Photo By Mike Burghardt

The 2022 auto racing season is underway. The NASCAR Cup teams finished up the annual special Busch Light Clash event over the weekend. This year, for the first time, this exhibition event was held at the Los Angeles County Coliseum on a paved track created around what used to be the football field. The annual “clash” has normally been run just prior to the Daytona 500 event in Daytona, Florida. This year NASCAR decided to spice things up by racing 33 cars in an outdoor coliseum environment to create some wild bumping and pushing competition over a 150-lap event.

The event was successful, drawing a full-house crowd. Kyle Busch led the most laps (64) and was the 9-2 odds favorite to win the event in his Joe Gibbs racing M&M’s Toyota. Unfortunately, his tires became overheated and lost traction, allowing Joey Logano to take over the lead in his Team Penske Pennzoil Ford Mustang late in the race and he then held off Busch for the win on Feb. 6.

NASCAR now uses their new “Next Gen” cars. These cars are built by NASCAR affiliated manufacturers. These manufacturers are the only ones allowed to build these cars. The cars include the complete chassis, carbon fiber body components and aerodynamic kits. This was done to help cut the costs of racing and to equalize the competition, so that the large high dollar teams would not dominate the racing by monetary means only. Teams are allowed to perform racing setups to their cars, but not allowed to alter the overall chassis and/or body in any way once the car has gone through the technical inspection at the track. They will have limited variations of the body panels (these must be approved by NASCAR before use) for aero purposes (superspeedway, short track and road courses) and the chassis (various NASCAR built and approved) for superspeedway, short track and road courses. The cars should be safer, cost less to run and look more like the showroom cars.

NASCAR returns to Sonoma Raceway over the June 11-12 weekend, featuring the Camping World Truck series on Saturday and the NASCAR cup series on Sunday. The track configuration will no longer include the carousel, returning to the faster configuration more popular with the fans. Kyle Busch, 2021 NASCAR Cup series champion Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex, Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are several of the fan favorites that will battle on the famed wine country hillside road course. Kyle Larson was the 2021 event winner, followed by Elliott, Truex, Logano and Busch.

Indy Car will, once again, race at the famed Laguna Seca raceway in Monterey over the weekend of Sept. 11. It will be the season finale, and the champion will be crowned at the event’s completion. Colton Herta has been the winner of the last two Indy Car events (2019 and 2021) at this course.

The NHRA returns to Sonoma Raceway over the weekend of July 22-24, featuring night (under the lights) qualifying of the most powerful, quickest and fastest accelerating cars in the world. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were Sonoma winners in 2021. The 2022 NHRA season opens at the Automobile of Southern California Raceway in Pomona, with the Winternationals from Feb. 17 through 20.