NASCAR Draft Kit: 2022 Track Specialists

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2022 Track Specialists

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

The NASCAR Cup Series presents as diverse a set of tracks as any racing series in the world.  From intermediate ovals to winding road courses, each track has its own special configuration and special set of characteristics.  This lineup of tracks is designed to test the NASCAR driver's ability in virtually every racing condition.  From the fantasy racing standpoint, it helps to know which drivers succeed at certain facilities.  Recent historical information gives us an edge, but we also need to be mindful of current trends and past statistical information in context.  We've taken a long look at both and come up with the drivers you need to have at certain style tracks in 2022 for fantasy racing success.  Here is our breakdown of track specialists to watch closely in the upcoming season.  This analysis is particularly helpful for weekly lineup leagues and daily fantasy racing.

Short Track Specialists

These stats are based on tracks three-quarters of a mile or shorter and include: Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

1. Martin Truex Jr.
Car: 19                  
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol310024
Martinsville3231915
Richmond3131814
Career94621933

Truex was on point with his short track performance in 2021.  The driver of the No. 19 Toyota racked up two victories (Martinsville and Richmond) and nabbed four Top-5 finishes at

The NASCAR Cup Series presents as diverse a set of tracks as any racing series in the world.  From intermediate ovals to winding road courses, each track has its own special configuration and special set of characteristics.  This lineup of tracks is designed to test the NASCAR driver's ability in virtually every racing condition.  From the fantasy racing standpoint, it helps to know which drivers succeed at certain facilities.  Recent historical information gives us an edge, but we also need to be mindful of current trends and past statistical information in context.  We've taken a long look at both and come up with the drivers you need to have at certain style tracks in 2022 for fantasy racing success.  Here is our breakdown of track specialists to watch closely in the upcoming season.  This analysis is particularly helpful for weekly lineup leagues and daily fantasy racing.

Short Track Specialists

These stats are based on tracks three-quarters of a mile or shorter and include: Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.

1. Martin Truex Jr.
Car: 19                  
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol310024
Martinsville3231915
Richmond3131814
Career94621933

Truex was on point with his short track performance in 2021.  The driver of the No. 19 Toyota racked up two victories (Martinsville and Richmond) and nabbed four Top-5 finishes at these small ovals.  Truex continued to build on his recent success at these style tracks.  While this success has come later in his Cup Series career, the Joe Gibbs Racing star is quickly building quite a resume at the small ovals.  Bristol is still a puzzle to Truex, but he's been razor sharp on the other short tracks of the series.  NASCAR will be transitioning to the Next-Gen car in 2022, so there are some unknowns, but we expect Truex to hang onto these recent gains.  He's become the man to beat each time NASCAR takes to the bullring circuit. 

2. Kyle Busch
Car: 18                  
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                   
 Manufacturer:  Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol32821419
Martinsville33221720
Richmond32611825
Career 971654964

Last season may have been winless on the short tracks for the No. 18 Toyota team, but Busch has been the gold standard on these tracks for years.  His statistical totals above bear this fact out.  Busch capped off last season's run with a stellar runner-up finish at Martinsville, and that likely signals great things on these style ovals in 2022.  The Joe Gibbs Racing star tallied one Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes at these bullrings last season.  Those performances boosted his career Top-10 rate at these tracks to a lofty 66 percent.  That ranks Busch and this team as the elite in the series at short track consistency.  The new season brings renewed hope for the two-time champion.  Busch should return to victory lane at these ovals in the upcoming season.

3. Kyle Larson
Car: 5                    
Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              
 Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol131138
Martinsville140023
Richmond141026
Career4121717

Larson returned to NASCAR with a roar in 2021, and a part of that major success was his short track racing.  The reigning Cup Series champion took a Bristol night race victory, two Top 5s and three Top 10s on these small ovals last season.  Those efforts boosted what is a growing resume of short track racing for Larson.  We tend to still think of the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet as an intermediate oval ace, but we can't overlook his short track appeal now.  Larson has become the most dangerous driver in NASCAR's top division after a whopping 10 victories last season.  He'll only continue to get more experienced and tough on the short tracks as we go forward.  Larson led 260 combined laps on these three tracks in 2021 and that didn't happen by accident.    

4. Denny Hamlin              
Car: 11                  
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol3124915
Martinsville32541622
Richmond30331519
Career 9310114056

The career-long excellence that Hamlin has had on the short tracks keeps him locked into this list for the foreseeable future.  The driver of the No. 11 Toyota was short on wins in 2021, but he made up for it in consistency and excellence, especially on the bullring circuit.  Hamlin racked up two runner-up finishes and three Top-3 finishes on these tracks last season.  With more than 800 laps led combined in the five events, he wasn't just playing follow the leader either.  Hamlin was setting the pace, but lacked some ingredient to close out these events and win.  The Joe Gibbs Racing star will always be a steadfast fantasy racing selection when it comes to short track racing. 

5. Joey Logano              
Car: 22                  
Owner: Penske Racing                         
 Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol2521610
Martinsville2615814
Richmond25221215
Career76582639

While 2021 was a down campaign for the most part for the No. 22 Ford team, Logano's star still shone bright in short track action.  The Penske Racing veteran lacked the speed to contend for wins, but he raced among the leaders in many of these events.  Logano collected two Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes on these tracks last season.  Those numbers boosted his career Top-5 and Top-10 rates to 34 and 51 percent respectively.  With practice and qualifying returning in 2022, we can't help but be very optimistic about Logano's potential performance.  Those extra laps could be the difference in the No. 22 Penske team returning to victory lane at these ovals. 

6. Alex Bowman              
Car: 48                 
Owner:  Hendrick Motorsports              
 Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Short Track StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Bristol110023
Martinsville121014
Richmond111012
Career 342049

Intermediate oval ace Bowman shocked the NASCAR world with his improbable excellence in short track racing last year.  The Hendrick Motorsports veteran has never been a very successful driver on the bullring circuit, but he went out of character last season.  Bowman didn't lead a ton of laps, but he showed the savvy and skill to steal two victories (Richmond and Martinsville) in 2021.  In addition, he racked up three Top-5 finishes.  Prior to last season, Bowman's short track statistics were anemic at best.  Now, he's a two-time short track winner and has the rich experience of those races to build on.  We'll need to see another season of short track performance in 2022 before we can move Bowman up this list, but he's on our radar screen now without a doubt. 

Road Course Specialists

Although road courses are a smaller percentage of the overall schedule they can be a huge factor in a fantasy racing championship as NASCAR is shifting the schedule more in this direction.  The circuit's road courses in the 2022 schedule include: Road America, Watkins Glen International, Sonoma Raceway, IMS Road Course, Charlotte Roval and Circuit of the Americas.

1. Chase Elliott                 
Car: 9                    
Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              
 Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma50023
Watkins Glen52133
Charlotte Roval42023
COTA11011
Indy Road Course10011
Road America11011
Daytona Road Course21011
Career 19711113

While Elliott didn't win as many of the seven road course events of 2021 as we would have expected, he still had a banner year on the winding circuits.  The Hendrick Motorsports star nabbed two victories, two runner-up finishes and five Top-5 finishes on these tracks last season.  The two wins came in track debuts for the Cup Series at Circuit of the Americas and Road America.  With seven victories now in just 19 career road course starts, Elliott is plugging along at a stellar 37-percent win rate.  It may be difficult to keep that pace up, but he's always going to be the driver to beat in this style of racing.  The 2022 calendar offers up six road course events, and that's several win opportunities for the No. 9 team.

2. Kyle Larson                 
Car: 5                    
Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              
 Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma71312
Watkins Glen71024
Charlotte Roval31011
COTA10011
Indy Road Course10011
Road America10000
Daytona Road Course10000
Career213369

Larson burst onto the road racing scene in 2021 with a career-best season.  A big part of that success was his dramatically improved racing on road courses.  The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet swiped his first three-career wins on these tracks with first-time victories at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval.  In addition, Larson nabbed a runner-up finish at COTA and third-place performance at the Indy road course.  It was a stellar season of road circuit racing for this driver and team, and blew away any prior conceptions we had of Larson's road racing ability.  With the entire team returning intact for 2022, the possibility of Larson dominating these tracks once again is very likely.

3. Denny Hamlin             
Car: 11                
Owner:   Joe Gibbs Racing                    
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma150047
Watkins Glen151158
Charlotte Roval40011
COTA10000
Indy Road Course10000
Road America10011
Daytona Road Course20022
Career39111319

Hamlin doesn't have the wins that other drivers in this list have on the road circuits, but the Joe Gibbs Racing star has displayed some incredible consistency and excellence in his road racing exploits the last few seasons.  Hamlin's six Top-10 finishes in his last 10 road course starts has boosted his career Top-10 average to 49 percent.  In 2021 alone, he racked up three Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes on these circuits.  His 50 laps led combined showed Hamlin was no slouch on the twisting tracks.  With drivers such as Elliott, Larson and Truex monopolizing most of the wins on these style tracks, the wins will be hard to come by for Hamlin this season.  However, he should be a regular face among the Top 5 and Top 10.    

4. Martin Truex Jr.                      
Car: 19                 
Owner:  Joe Gibbs Racing                    
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma153056
Watkins Glen1510710
Charlotte Roval40002
COTA10000
Indy Road Course10000
Road America10001
Daytona Road Course20011
Career39401320

Truex has gone winless for a bit on these road courses, so we've moved him down the rankings a few notches to reflect that drop off in performance.  Still, the Joe Gibbs Racing star has maintained consistency and a high level of performance on these tracks and stays relevant in fantasy racing discussions.  Truex nabbed two Top-5 and three Top-10 finishes on these circuits to keep his career rates at respectable 33 percent Top-5 and 51 percent Top-10 on the road courses.  He and crew chief James Small will continue to strive to get back to leading laps and contending for wins on these tracks in 2022.  The team has a way to go getting back to that level, but clearly Truex possesses the gift of road course racing.

5. Kyle Busch                   
Car: 18                 
Owner:  Joe Gibbs Racing                    
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma162068
Watkins Glen1622713
Charlotte Roval40011
COTA10001
Indy Road Course10000
Road America10011
Daytona Road Course20011
Career 41421524

Busch enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in road course performance in 2021.  The driver of the No. 18 Toyota has labored on these tracks the last few seasons, but made tremendous strides last year.  Busch grabbed four Top-5 and five Top-10 finishes in the seven road course events of last season.  He even slayed a recent nemesis in the Charlotte Roval last October by leading 22 laps and registering an impressive fourth-place result, a career-best finish at the facility.  While Busch didn't collect any wins, he did represent himself well in this form of racing.  The bump in performance boosted his career rates to very impressive 37 percent Top-5 and 59-percent Top-10 on these style tracks.  Busch should continue on this trajectory for 2022.   

6. Joey Logano               
Car: 22                  
Owner: Penske Racing                         
 Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Road Course StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Sonoma120135
Watkins Glen121035
Charlotte Roval40014
COTA10011
Indy Road Course10000
Road America10000
Daytona Road Course20012
Career 3311917

The Penske Racing veteran had a bit of a mixed-bag season on the road circuits last year, but Logano still managed to collect three Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes on these tracks.  The driver of the No. 22 Ford did also lead 44 laps on the road courses so he did enjoy some time racing at the front.  With a career Top-10 rate hovering around the 50 percent mark, Logano has proven to be consistent over the years in this form of racing.  He's not a major threat to win these races at this point in his career, but Logano shouldn't disappoint in the consistency and performance department.  Whether it's hybrid oval circuits or true sports car or road racing circuits, Logano is a dependable fantasy racing play no matter the venue.

Superspeedway Specialists

As with the road courses, the superspeedways represent a small portion of the overall schedule.  However, these tracks are raced twice a season, so the stakes are much higher.  The circuit's superspeedways include: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

1. Denny Hamlin             
Car: 11                  
Owner: Joe Gibbs Racing                    
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona32301112
Talladega3220914
Career64502026

Hamlin has been the most dominant superspeedway driver of the last few seasons.  While he went winless on these tracks in 2021, it was far from a fall off.  The Joe Gibbs Racing star nabbed one Top-5 and two Top-10 finishes on those four events.  Hamlin also led 154 laps between Daytona and Talladega starts.  He was unable to close any victories, but that didn't mean he wasn't a top contender in all four events.  Adding to an already hefty career statistical mark, Hamlin only built on his superspeedway racing resume last year.  The upcoming season will see a new generation stock car, but we expect Hamlin to continue to be the driver to beat on these huge ovals. 

2. Ryan Blaney                
Car: 12                  
Owner: Penske Racing                         
 Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona131035
Talladega152035
Career2830610

With the departure of Brad Keselowski, Blaney becomes the top superspeedway driver at Team Penske.  The young star grabbed another victory on these tracks in 2021 with his big win in the Summer Daytona race.  Blaney is now a three-time winner between the ovals of Daytona and Talladega.  The driver of the No. 12 Ford has figured out the timing of these superspeedway races.  When to make your move late in the race, and who to make it with in terms of partnering.  Understanding how to be successful in this form of racing is the key to winning.  Penske continues to give Blaney fast superspeedway cars, and he continues to show that he knows what to do with them.  With an 11.1 average finish over the last two seasons between these two tracks, Blaney ranks among the elite in the series in this style of racing.

3. Chase Elliott                 
Car: 9                    
Owner: Hendrick Motorsports              
 Manufacturer: Chevrolet

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona120323
Talladega121245
Career 241568

Elliott doesn't have the wins that other drivers in this list possess, but he's been painfully close to bringing home more superspeedway trophies the last two seasons.  The Hendrick Motorsports star has a pair of runner-up finishes and three Top-5 finishes over the last two years at Daytona and Talladega.  His 50 percent Top-10 rate over the last two campaigns is above average as well.  That's a good number for this high-stakes form of racing.  Hendrick Motorsports has really stepped up their game in terms of cars in superspeedway competition and Elliott has benefitted greatly from that.  He and crew chief Alan Gustafson will look to capture a second career superspeedway win in 2022. 

4. Kevin Harvick             
Car: 4                    
Owner: Stewart Haas Racing               
 Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona41211116
Talladega4212818
Career83331934

Harvick has had a lean few seasons of superspeedway racing, but 2021 saw the No. 4 Stewart Haas team turn things around.  The veteran driver earned a pair of Top-5 finishes, starting with the season-opening Daytona 500, and grabbed three Top 10's between the two huge ovals last year.  That return to competitive racing saw Harvick also lead 49 combined laps in those four events.  We saw Harvick racing at the front in these events more often than usual in recent seasons.  As you can see in the statistics from the table above, he's been a big performer on the big ovals for a long time.  2021 was simply a return to historical form for Harvick.  We expect big things for this driver and team in the upcoming season and that includes continued performance on the superspeedway tracks.

5. Brad Keselowski           
Car: 6                    
Owner: Roush Fenway Keselowski       
 Manufacturer: Ford

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona251035
Talladega2660913
Career 51701218

Keselowski takes his driving skills and heads to Roush Fenway Racing in 2021.  This team has been a strong camp on the big ovals in recent years, so this appears to be a marriage made in heaven from a superspeedway standpoint.  Keselowski grabbed a seventh win on these tracks last season with his Spring Talladega victory, and he also grabbed a runner-up finish at 'Dega in the Fall.  He brings that excellence to Roush and the No. 6 Ford in the upcoming season.  Roush powered Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to two victories on the big ovals in 2017, and several Top 5s and Top 10s over a four-year span.  That same superspeedway excellence and strong cars will be at Keselowski's disposal in 2022.  

6. Bubba Wallace            
Car: 23                  
Owner: 23XI Racing                             
 Manufacturer: Toyota

NASCAR Speedway StatsRacesWinsPolesTop 5sTop 10s
Daytona90033
Talladega81011
Career 171044

Wallace burst into the NASCAR Cup Series victory lane for the first time this past season at Talladega.  Albeit the event was a rain-shortened race, Wallace's moves and driving to get to the lead in that race were impressive.  The 23XI Racing veteran also nabbed a runner-up finish in the Summer Daytona race.  Wallace led a surprising 30 laps between the four superspeedway events of last year, so he had a fair share of time at the front.  While his career totals at these two ovals is still lagging just a bit, improvement is obviously inbound.  Last season Wallace showed he could race among the leaders, partner in the draft successfully and know the critical timing of when to make your move which leads to winning these style races.  This season should see continued growth for Wallace on these big ovals. 

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NASCAR Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NASCAR fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
DFS NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600
DFS NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600
DFS NASCAR Xfinity: Alsco Uniforms 300
DFS NASCAR Xfinity: Alsco Uniforms 300
DFS NASCAR Trucks: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
DFS NASCAR Trucks: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
Coca-Cola 600 Preview: Memorial Day Marathon
Coca-Cola 600 Preview: Memorial Day Marathon