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Next Gen Car Concerns, New Teams: The Biggest Reveals From 'Race For The Championship'

"Race For The Championship" offered plenty of insight into the lives of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

Thanks to the cameras rolling on “Race For The Championship,” NASCAR fans spent the 2022 Cup Series season getting a better look at the ins and outs of the competition than ever before. 

As top-tier NASCAR drivers battled it out on and off the track to eke out a win for their respective teams, viewers got a front-row seat to all the drama. In a year fraught with controversy and concerns about the future of competitive racing, “Race For The Championship” often revealed key insight into the sport that would have otherwise been relegated behind the scenes in team meetings and off-camera conversations. 

As the season draws to a close, it’s worth taking a look back at just some of the many reveals that took place on “Race For The Championship.” 

Kyle Busch Gets Real About Leaving Joe Gibbs Racing

Rftc Reveals Kyle Busch2

Among the many newsworthy things happening in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season was the fact that it's the end of the road for Kyle Busch’s time with Joe Gibbs Racing. The show not only covered his decision to move over to Richard Childress Racing in 2023, but it allowed him an opportunity to get candid about the lack of support he felt from his team of 15 years once it was clear he was leaving. 

The two-time Cup Series champion said it was “disappointing” to see how quickly he was viewed as a competitor in the 2022 season rather than an asset. 

“Something that is so disappointing to me and so hurtful about this whole situation with JGR is they were like family,” Busch said. “For 15 years, Joe had my back in the stupidest of moments that Kyle Busch was. Like, he was there for me. And it's gone. Like it just flipped and it’s gone. And it's like nothing I've ever been a part of.”

Drivers Are Forced To Comment On Next Gen Car Safety 

Rftc Reveals Kyle Larson

In the penultimate episode of the series, the show gave viewers an important look at racers like Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and more getting vocal with both NASCAR and the public about their concerns with the Next Gen cars that became a requirement this season. 

In addition to a myriad of bugs and performance issues, drivers were forced to voice their concerns after several injuries sidelined an inordinate amount of racers like Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman, who both suffered serious concussions after crashes. 

Episodes even gave some insight into Kurt’s recovery, showing the physical testing he underwent to ultimately determine he needed to step back from the season and relinquish his spot to someone who had a better chance of winning safely. 

The drivers felt forced to speak up and note they were “fed up,” as Larson put it, with the open secret that the Next Gen cars tend to prioritize durability while allowing the drivers to take more punishment. Logano said in the episode that, given the serious injuries suffered by its drivers, NASCAR will likely start listening to them now. That’s exactly what happened. 

Officials for NASCAR met with multiple drivers and listened to their complaints. Time will tell what, if any, changes are made. However, it’s likely the 2022 season will be remembered by all as the first with the Next Gen cars as well as all the growing pains that came with them.

RELATED: See The Full Hendrick Motorsports Drone Tour From 'Race For The Championship'

The Uphill Battle Small Teams Face

Rftc Reveals Corey Lajoie

NASCAR is full of established teams like Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing. Although it can be difficult to get started with financing, it’s not impossible for new teams to emerge in the Cup Series and 2022 saw a handful of newer teams fight for their place on the track. 

Specifically, “Race For The Championship” followed Denny Hamlin and Corey LaJoie as they navigated the difficult landscape and tried to bring 23XI and Spire Motorsports respectively into the mainstream. It was especially difficult in 2022 for smaller teams since even large teams were having trouble with the post-pandemic supply chain.

Where once it was easy to simply rebuild a car from scratch, this season saw every part become a precious, irreplaceable commodity. In one episode, LaJoie had a shot at placing in a higher position at the Daytona 500 but opted to hang back for fear of wrecking and being unable to continue with his car onto the next Cup Series race. 

While this struggle was felt across small and large teams alike, for newbies like Spire and 23XI, the consequences were dire. 

Tune into the “Race For The Championship” final Thursday at 10/9c on USA Network. You can catch up on past episodes on Peacock right now. 

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