It may seem hard to believe, but the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season has officially reached its midway point. Last weekend’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway marked the 13th of 26 regular-season races. It proved to be a historic race at that as veteran Kurt Busch scored the first-ever victory for 23XI Racing. Fittingly, he did so with the Air Jordan logo donning the hood of the car! Busch became the 11th driver to win a race this season and firmly shook up the NASCAR Cup Series points standings by doing so.
With the first half of the season in the books, the Cup Series stars will put their season-long points battle on hold and partake in the annual NASCAR All-Star Race festivities this coming weekend. The drivers and teams had better enjoy a more relaxed weekend while they can. Following All-Star Weekend at Texas, the next points-paying race is the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only is that race one of the crown jewels of the sport, but it is also the longest mileage event on the annual NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
The following article contains a table with the updated NASCAR Cup Series point standings through the first half of the regular season. Discussion of several noteworthy developments after the first 13 races is also included.
NASCAR Cup Series Standings Update | After Race 13 at Kansas
Refer to the table below for the updated NASCAR Cup Series points standings through the first five races of the season. The table also includes additional NASCAR Cup Series stats including Wins, Top-5 Finishes, Top-10 Finishes and Stage Wins. The table is sortable by driver and statistic for your viewing convenience.
|Car Number||Driver||Projected Playoff Seed||Standings Points||Wins||Top-5's||Top-10's||Stage Wins|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||10||481||0||2||7||3|
|47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||N/A||288||0||1||5||0|
Kurt Busch Scores First Win for 23XI Racing
Earlier this season, one of two second-year race teams reached victory lane for the first time. Although Ross Chastain was not a part of the maiden season for Trackhouse Racing last year, he was the driver that ultimately delivered the organization it’s first (and second) wins. Just like Trackhouse, 23XI Racing also expanded to a two-car operation this season. Veteran Kurt Busch, who was Chastain’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing a year ago, was tabbed as the full-time driver of the No. 45 Toyota.
On Sunday afternoon, the decision of 23XI Racing co-owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to bring in Busch paid off in a big way. The 43-year-old was the class of the field at Kansas Speedway. He passed Kyle Larson in the closing laps and held on to score the first win in the history of 23XI Racing. Making the occasion even more fitting was that he did so in a car adorned with none other than the Air Jordan logo itself.
With the win, Busch vaulted himself up the NASCAR Cup Series standings and into the thick of playoff contention. The former series champion also extended a streak that has seen him win a race every year dating back to 2014. Busch has bounced around between numerous race teams and manufacturers over the course of a full-time Cup Series career that began back in 2001. However, this is the very first season that he has driven a Toyota. Busch’s adaptability continues to serve him well. The 2022 AdventHealth 400 will now forever be a part of 23XI Racing lore.
Toyota Teams Building Momentum at Midway Point of Season
Despite only two chartered NASCAR Cup Series race teams being partnered with the foreign manufacturer, five of the top six cars at Kansas were Toyotas. It’s hard to think of a better way to close out the first half of the regular season. While Kyle Larson did hang on to finish second in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, each of the next four finishers across the line were all Joe Gibbs Racing Camrys.
Kyle Busch was third in a race where his pit crew made a little NASCAR history of their own by breaking the nine-second barrier on a four-tire stop. He was followed by Denny Hamlin in fourth while pole-sitter Christopher Bell finished fifth. Martin Truex Jr. rounded out an incredible day for JGR in sixth.
Following Kurt Busch’s win at Kansas, five of the six Camrys that drive full-time are now situated among the top-16 in the NASCAR points standings. Both of the Busch brothers and Hamlin have won races. Truex is one of only six drivers to crack the 400-point threshold through the first 13 races of the season. Then there’s Bell, who has won three poles and has now scored a top-7 finish in four of the last five races.
Not to be outdone, Bubba Wallace also had quite a race at Kansas. If not for a pit road penalty late in the race, 23XI Racing might very well have had two drivers in contention for the win. Despite the setback, Wallace’s Toyota was so fast that he was still able to rally for a top-10 finish. Thus, all six Camrys in Sunday’s race were among the top-10 finishers.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Quietly Finishes First Half with a Flourish
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season got off to a brutal start for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The lone driver for the newly-downsized JTG Daugherty Racing operation got wrecked out of the Daytona 500 from the lead late. Stenhouse was able to rebound with a top-10 run at Auto Club in the second race, but things went south in a hurry after that. From Las Vegas through Talladega, a span of eight races, Stenhouse failed to even crack the top-20. It was a stretch that set him well behind the eight-ball as far as the NASCAR standings are concerned and could have easily demoralized the No. 47 team long-term.
Stenhouse was finally able to get off the schneid at Dover. In fact, he did that and then some by finishing runner-up, easily his best finish of the season. He then followed it up with back-to-back eighth-place finishes at Darlington and Kansas to close out the first half of the regular season in style. He may not be driving for a powerhouse team, but the momentum that Stenhouse and JTG Daugherty Racing were able to build heading into the All-Star race is worth noting.
Through 13 races, Stenhouse sits 25th in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings. He is currently 95 points below the cut line. While making up that deficit won’t be easy, if the No. 47 team keeps running like this, perhaps they can crash the winner’s circle in the second half of the regular season and sneak into the playoff picture that way.