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NASCAR superlatives: Chastain, Suárez, Cindric earn first-half awards

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Eighteen factors races full. And 18 to go.

It’s time for some midseason awards for the NASCAR Cup Series. These aren’t predictions for the top of the yr. These awards are in regards to the right here and now and what has occurred by means of the primary half of the season.

I’ve picked 18 classes to go together with this second 18 races into the season. 

Let’s get to it.

Driver of the yr

None. Sorry, I can’t decide one. No one has dominated. There have been nice performances, however no driver has been dominant sufficient to get my decide. Just 35 factors separate the highest three drivers within the standings, and 80 factors separate the highest seven.

Surprise driver of the yr

Ross Chastain. No one noticed Chastain successful two races and vying for the regular-season title.

Is Ross Chastain a authentic championship contender?

Bob Pockrass says Ross Chastain’s second Cup win is an indication of development for Trackhouse, nevertheless it’s nonetheless too early to speak a few championship.

Comeback driver of the yr

Daniel Suárez. A driver who two years in the past appeared like he may by no means get near successful now has a Cup win.

Disappointing driver of the yr

Brad Keselowski. There weren’t excessive expectations for Keselowski this yr, as he joined Roush Fenway Racing as a driver and co-owner. But even with the modifications at RFK Racing, you’d assume he would have greater than two top-10s.

Hard-luck driver of the yr

Denny Hamlin. The man has led laps in 10 occasions and has threatened in additional however has managed solely two victories.

Denny Hamlin wins the 2022 Coca-Cola 600

Denny Hamlin wins the longest race in NASCAR historical past with a wild extra time end at Charlotte.

Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

Frustrated driver of the yr

Bubba Wallace. Whether it’s a pit-crew difficulty, a mechanical failure or driver error, he has had a season by which he has proven extra pace however has nothing to indicate for it.

Happy driver of the yr

William Byron. Except for one postrace remark (we’ll get to that later), he all the time appears to be a driver with a optimistic perspective.

Enigmatic driver of the yr

Kyle Busch. He’s stable within the standings, and he has a win, but it looks as if he may have 4 or 5 wins this yr, however he simply is not having an awesome season.

Move of the yr

Austin Cindric to win the Daytona 500. Ryan Blaney wouldn’t agree, however you do what it’s a must to do to win the Daytona 500. And what a approach to open a rookie season.

Rookie Austin Cindric ecstatic after successful Daytona 500

Rookie Austin Cindric spoke to Jamie Little after successful the Daytona 500, thanking his workforce and the followers for cheering him on your complete manner.

Not-so-much transfer of the yr

Chase Briscoe. Sorry, Chase, however that transfer on the finish of Bristol dust simply wasn’t good.

Best timing of the yr

Kurt Busch successful with the Jordan model brand on his automobile and his uniform at Kansas. If he’s going to win a race, that may be the one.

Stage winner of the yr

This is a tie between Blaney and Martin Truex Jr., who every have 5 stage wins this yr however to date are winless (Blaney gained the all-star race).

Best race of the yr

Coke 600. Who knew {that a} race that was so lengthy might be so good?

Best non-racing transfer of the yr

The Clash at the Coliseum. Constructing a observe within the L.A. Coliseum wasn’t a straightforward factor to do. And it was much more troublesome to do proper. NASCAR did each.

Bob Pockrass on the Clash on the Coliseum

Bob Pockrass shares some fast ideas on why the Clash on the Coliseum exceeded expectations, incomes smiles from each NASCAR executives and the one that unexpectedly joined this video.

Quote of the yr

“He’s only a moron” — Byron on Joey Logano. I’m not passing judgment on the transfer, nevertheless it’s uncommon to see such emotion out of Byron.

Paint scheme of the yr

The Chastain throwback to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Coke automobile (Japan exhibition race) throughout Darlington weekend.

Organization of the yr

Team Trackhouse. No doubt on this one. Hendrick Motorsports has extra victories, however for each Trackhouse drivers to have already gained in a yr once they weren’t anticipated to contend on a weekly foundation is a good story.

Mystery of the yr

Wheels. When you want two arms to rely the variety of wheels that fall off throughout a season — not to mention the primary half of a season — it’s a problem. And it’s an issue that doesn’t have a easy answer, however one thing must be executed.

Thinking out loud 

Well, I’d say this whole column has been pondering out loud. Everyone have an awesome Fourth of July!

Social highlight

Stat of the day

The previous 5 truck races have been gained by drivers who aren’t within the sequence full-time: Ryan Preece, Todd Gilliland, Kyle Busch, Corey Heim and Ross Chastain. 

They stated it

“Our automobiles are so a lot better in visitors, and you may race a lot tougher than you could possibly even final yr. The distinction is that Kyle Busch isn’t a second [per] lap quicker. He’s solely a tenth quicker, and whenever you’re solely a tenth quicker, it’s actually laborious to cross someone.” Michael McDowell

Bob Pockrass has spent a long time overlaying motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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