NASCAR’s end-of-the-season banquet takes place this week but unlike other sports, there are barely any prestigious awards handed out to the drivers at the conclusion of the year. However, that narrative has changed since 2021.
Let’s dive into Sportsnaut’s second annual NASCAR awards that will be handed out using a specific points system.
Explaining the NASCAR awards point system
All 36 races will matter when it comes to deciding who will be awarded. There will be seven different categories: Most Valuable Driver, Most Improved Driver, Rookie of the Year, Short Track Driver of the Year, Intermediate Driver of the Year, Superspeedway Driver of the Year, and Road Course Driver of the Year.
Each year, the writer will go through each individual race for a specific type of track and award a series of points to the 10 best drivers in that race. The points handed out for each race will be in the same points format distributed to the top 10 drivers at the end of the regular season.
Once all races in a specific category, such as short tracks, are assessed points, the driver with the most points wins the award. The top five drivers and their points will be shown at the bottom of each award, plus last year’s winner.
However, the Most Improved Driver award will see a different format. A driver’s points in the previous season will be subtracted from the current season. Then, there will be points handed out for “X” more results than the previous year.
Wins will equal 50 points, top-5 finishes will equal 20 points, top-10 finishes will equal 10 points, and average finish will equal five points.
For example, if Austin Dillon has 600 points in 2020 and 900 points in 2021, that equals 300 points. Dillon has one more win, a top-5 finish, and a top-10 finish. That would equal 70 points, so the total would be 370 points.
The most important award, Most Valuable Driver, will also be in a different format. There are four different types of track awards (short tracks, intermediate tracks, road courses, superspeedway) that will be used to determine it.
The top 10 drivers in each category will be awarded points in the same way. Each driver will be awarded points like NASCAR gives out playoff points at the end of the regular season. Then, another type of bonus system takes place.
The driver with the most wins will be awarded two points, most top-5 finishes will be one point, most-10 finishes will be one point, and most laps led will be one point. Then, the highest driver on each team is awarded two points and the highest driver in each manufacturer is given three points.
The maximum number of points that can be given out to the Most Valuable Driver award is 70 points, which would be a unanimous victory. It’s a lot to digest, but it’s the continuation of a new tradition. Let’s begin!
Road Course Driver of the Year in 2022
Winner: No. 8 Tyler Reddick
Tyler Reddick blew out the field en route to his first Road Course Driver of the Year award. The 2022 season represented a coming-out party for Reddick as he claimed two wins on road courses and three overall.
The 26-year-old driver was expected to flourish in the NextGen car and that is exactly what happened. However, it didn’t come without turmoil after his drama with Richard Childress Racing.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Road Course Driver of the Year award.
- Tyler Reddick: 47 points
- Christopher Bell: 29 points
- Chase Elliott: 28 points
- Daniel Suarez: 26 points
- Austin Cindric: 26 points
Reddick had an outstanding victory as he won the award by over one full race worth of points. He had an even bigger lead before the final road course event of the season at the Charlotte ROVAL.
However, while it did not live up to the incredible standard set by Kyle Larson last season, it still remains the largest victory for the award to date.
- 2021: Kyle Larson (73 points)
2022 Superspeedway Driver of the Year
Winner: No. 9 Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott barely squeaked out the victory en route to his Superspeedway Driver of the Year award. Elliott won two superspeedway events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway this year.
The 27-year-old driver is one of NASCAR’s best superspeedway drivers and that was on full display this year. However, the elusive Daytona 500 victory is still up for grabs as he looks to change that at the 2023 Daytona 500
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Superspeedway Driver of the Year award.
- Chase Elliott: 42 points
- Ross Chastain: 40 points
- Austin Cindric: 33 points
- Ryan Blaney: 27 points
- Austin Dillon: 21 points
Elliott barely won over Ross Chastain, who held the lead going into the final superspeedway race of the season at Talladega. The No. 9 team’s victory is what clinched him the award this season.
Compared to last year, Brad Keselowski’s total of 36 points is only representative of four races as Atlanta was still an intermediate track. Therefore, it was not as dominant as Keselowski, but still a really good year.
- 2021: Brad Keselowski (36 points)
Intermediate Driver of the Year in 2022
Winner: No. 22 Joey Logano
Joey Logano held off Larson from going back-to-back after claiming this season’s Intermediate Driver of the Year award. Logano won the NASCAR Cup Series championship and this award at Phoenix Raceway just under one month ago.
The 32-year-old driver clinched the victory due to his late-playoff surge. It was a dominant end to the season as it represented his second Cup Series championship and first Intermediate Drier of the Year award.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Intermediate Driver of the Year award.
- Joey Logano: 94 points
- Kyle Larson: 85 points
- Ross Chastain: 77 points
- Denny Hamlin: 75 points
- Christopher Bell: 72 points
As stated above, Logano barely held off Larson for the award as the latter looked to go back-to-back. Chastain rounded out the podium only 17 points behind Logano which is relatively close.
However, Logano got nowhere near the dominance of Larson during the 2021 season. It might be a record that remains unmatched for seasons to come.
- 2021: Kyle Larson (158 points)
2022 NASCAR Short Track Driver of the Year
Winner: No. 20 Christopher Bell
Christopher Bell edged out his teammate Denny Hamlin en route to his first Short Track Driver of the Year award. Bell’s performance at Martinsville Speedway represented a walk-off victory to the Championship 4 and this award.
The 27-year-old driver performed really well on short tracks after almost winning at Richmond Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway. It could have been a more dominating victory if he pulled those two off this season.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Short Track Driver of the Year award.
- Christopher Bell: 43 points
- Denny Hamlin: 37 points
- William Byron: 32 points
- Joey Logano: 29 points
- Kyle Larson: 29 points
For most of the Martinsville event, Hamlin looked to have this award locked up but Bell’s late surge and Hamlin’s troubles locked up the award. The Joe Gibbs Racing duo looked good in a tight race for the award.
Bell’s success still doesn’t match Martin Truex Jr. from the 2021 season but it is still a good sign of things to come. Joe Gibbs Racing still remains undefeated in this category.
- 2021: Martin Truex Jr. (49 points)
NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2022
Winner: No. 2 Austin Cindric
Austin Cindric easily won the NASCAR Rookie of the Year award in 2022 in both areas. Cindric was the official winner when the playoffs started and it translated over to the points system.
The 24-year-old driver essentially clinched the award when he won the 2022 Daytona 500. If a rookie driver locks themselves into the playoffs, it means the award is likely going to them unless another rookie makes it.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Rookie of the Year award.
- Austin Cindric: 55 points
- Harrison Burton: 22 points
- Todd Gilliland: 18 points
Cindric blew Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland out of the water but that was expected going into the season. Burton and Gilliland didn’t have the equipment to fight with Cindric for the victory.
It also clears the mark set by Chase Briscoe last season by 18 points. Cindric had an impressive rookie campaign and should only improve moving forward.
- 2021: Chase Briscoe (37 points)
Most Improved Driver award winner in 2022
Winner: No. 1 Ross Chastain
Ross Chastain absolutely destroyed the competition en route to his first career Most Improved Driver award. Chastain’s emergence was incredible to watch as he came out of nowhere and almost won the NASCAR Cup Series championship.
The 29-year-old driver has been on a rollercoaster throughout his career so it is good to see him finally have an opportunity to showcase his talent. He represents many other drivers out there who just need a shot.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Most Improved Driver award.
- Ross Chastain: 868 points
- Daniel Suarez: 523 points
- Chase Briscoe: 455 points
- Christopher Bell: 424 points
- Erik Jones: 385 points
This was not even close. Chastain destroyed his teammate Daniel Suarez for the award by almost 350 points. Meanwhile, Briscoe rounded out the podium after a solid Round of 8 appearance this year.
Chastain clearly eclipsed Bell’s mark from the 2021 season and this might not be matched moving forward. It will take an awful lot to see Chastain drop down the list regarding points
- 2021: Christopher Bell (473 points)
Most Valuable Driver award winner in 2022
Winner: No. 9 Chase Elliott
Elliott has won his first career Most Valuable Driver award winner in the NASCAR Cup Series. This was a close and well-deserved victory after winning the regular season championship and most races in the season.
The 27-year-old driver ended the season with five wins, 12 top-5 finishes, 20 top-10 finishes, and a 12.5 average finishing position. Elliott tied a career-high in victories after winning five times during the 2020 season.
Let’s take a deeper look at the results of this year’s Most Valuable Driver award.
- Chase Elliott: 37 points
- Christopher Bell: 36 points
- Ross Chastain: 30 points
- Joey Logano: 27 points
- Kyle Larson: 20 points
Elliott barely squeaked out the victory over Bell by one point. If the two drivers tied, it would have gone to Bell due to the tiebreaker being the final point standings finish for this award.
The driver of the No. 9 car likely was going to run away with the award before the playoffs but his struggles and Bell’s emergence made this closer than expected. Elliott’s victory also means that Hendrick Motorsports has a clear grasp on this award.
Larson won easily last season over Martin Truex Jr. as Elliott finished in third place last year. This is undoubtedly going to be the first of many Most Valuable Driver awards for Elliott in his career.
- 2021: Kyle Larson (45 points)