Second year in a row that a driver got his first ever cup series win in the biggest race of the year. 2021 was Michael McDowell, this year Austin Cindric. Here are my biggest takeaways from the race:
- The Next Gen car still needs some work, but things could have been worse. Teams reported issues with wheels/tires throughout, and there were also some fueling issues as well. Test sessions can only tell so much - now that these cars are getting actual race action, I expect even more learning and improvements on this brand new race car.
- Brad Keselowski was a PROBLEM all race long and not in a good way. My man was single handedly responsible for wrecking about 8 good cars out of this race. He was way to aggressive with his bump drafting out of corners, especially against some young drivers. You'd think as a new team owner he would sympathize with teams not wanting to junk cars because there are so few of them, but he was a major pain even after the cars crossed the line.
- It was so good to see a SOLD OUT crowd for this race. 150,000+ people is a LOT for one venue (like 3x a single steelers game.) People love to say NASCAR is dying - they aren't 100% wrong but numbers like that show that there is still a heavy interest in the sport.
- Great runs for guys like Noah Gragson and David Ragan. Noah ultimately crashed out with a few laps left, but I cheer heavy for that number 62 Beard Motorsports team every time they show up to race. Hopefully they get a car put together for Dega.
- ANOTHER great run by Michael McDowell on a super speedway. That #34 FRM team might not be top dogs at all tracks, but they are dialed in on these tracks. Hopefully this new car makes the competitive balance a little more even all season.