NASCAR team owners are becoming more open to their drivers racing on the dirt
Kyle Larson raced more than anyone in 2022. He also won more than anyone, by far and went on to claim the NASCAR Cup Series championship.
The win count alone has caused many NASCAR team owners to rethink their driver limits. It was previously frowned upon for NASCAR drivers to run a bunch of races in other series, mostly due to injury risks.
Rick Hendrick was previously one of those owners. Since signing Larson, he’s totally switched his mindset. And other team owners are doing the same, rapidly.
Another example of the change, Roger Penske is an additional team owner that frowned upon his drivers racing outside of NASCAR. For 2022, Ryan Blaney is looking to run some dirt races.
Larson smoked the field and grabbed 10 NASCAR Cup Series races in 2021 after leading 2581 laps. Martin Truex Jr was the next closest with just 4 wins throughout the season.
Martin Truex Jr talks dirt racing plans
Martin Truex Jr his plans to change his style in 2022. Truex isn’t one of the drivers who regularly venture out of the NASCAR ranks and onto the dirt.
However, he’s been prepping to do just that. Last year, Toyota Racing Development unloaded a dirt midget for Truex Jr to turn some laps.
“I played around in a midget with Toyota last summer,” Martin Truex Jr told NBC Sports.
Truex Jr drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing, teammates with dirt regular Christopher Bell. Kyle Busch, another JGR drivers recently explored dirt racing via the Tulsa Shootout.
“Had a friggin’ blast. I’m definitely going to race one of those cars one day.”
“It was like throwing a duck into the water,” Truex added. “I just got in there and went. It felt really good. I definitely want to do some more of that.”
Truex Jr was almost included in the Chili Bowl Nationals entry list. The biggest dirt midget race of the year sees near 400 entries.
“Bell, he tried to talk me into the Chili Bowl. I kind of procrastinated too long. I would love to race one of those cars one of these days. Preferably a small track (like the quarter-mile track at the Chili Bowl). I’d like to get a little more experience before I go to that race with 400 cars.”
The recent Chili Bowl Nationals saw 7 NASCAR Cup Series drives who raced in 2021.
2022 Chili Bowl Drivers (NASCAR): Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe
“Just watched midget racing for years,” Truex said. “I remember growing up watching Thursday Night Thunder from (Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park). Just always intrigued by them and watched them.”
Truex Jr was the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion.