The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Entering 2023, here’s a look back at some of the best efforts of 2022
Ross Chastain (that’s his wall-rubbed ride, above) pulled one of the most clutch moves in NASCAR’S history with his sensational wall ride on the final lap at Martinsville to clinch his spot in this past season’s Cup Series Championship 4.
Read on for the top 10 clutch performances from the 2022 season (in chronological order):
AUSTIN CINDRIC - DAYTONA 500
Participating in his first Cup race as a fulltime driver, Cindric stepped up on one of the grandest stages in motorsports. Leading 21 laps -- including the last eight -- the rookie held off the field in a thrilling overtime finish to score his first career win in NASCAR’S premier series.
DENNY HAMLIN TOYOTA OWNERS 400 (RICHMOND)
In the first two stages, Hamlin ran outside the top 10, which kept up with the trend of his lessthan-ideal start to 2022 with three DNFS and no top 10s through the first six races of the season.
However, the No. 11 team called for a late-race stop with 47 laps to go, and Hamlin was able to dice through the field, take the lead and win his first race of 2022 to secure a playoff berth.
PARKER KLIGERMAN O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 150 (MID-OHIO)
With the small, underfunded Henderson Motorsports team, the 32-yearold journeyman engaged in a hard-fought battle with eventual series champion Zane Smith around the 2.258mile, 13-turn course to earn the second career win for the team.
KEVIN HARVICK FIREKEEPERS CASINO 400 (MICHIGAN)
Closers close. The epitome of clutch, Harvick trended toward missing the playoffs in the final month of the Cup Series regular season due to a fruitless 2022 and the number of different winners rising. However, on a late-race restart, Harvick outdueled Bubba Wallace to pull away from the field to snag his first of two wins during the season to remind the field why he’s called “The Closer.”
AUSTIN DILLON COKE ZERO SUGAR 400 (DAYTONA)
There weren’t many races filled with as much drama as the Cup Series regular-season finale at Daytona. After a multi-car pileup eliminated the majority of the field, the 2018 Daytona 500 champ bobbed and weaved his away around the carnage to escape as the leader. After an hours-long weather delay, Dillon held off the remaining competitors to become the 16th different winner of 2022 to clinch one of the final playoff berths.
ERIK JONES COOK OUT SOUTHERN 500 (DARLINGTON)
Seizing the moment, Erik Jones capitalized on an opportunity after potential race-winning contenders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. dropped out of the race with a variety of issues. Despite not reaching the postseason, Jones held off championship contender Denny Hamlin for the final 23 laps to score his third career Cup win.
JOSH BERRY ALSCO UNIFORMS 302 (LAS VEGAS)
Seeking a Championship 4 berth in his first full-time season in NASCAR, Josh Berry led 65 laps in the first Round of 8 race on the 1.5-mile Nevada oval on the way to his third Xfinity Series win of 2022. The driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet had to overcome scraping the wall and a tire rub to hold on to the victory.
CHRISTOPHER BELL BANK OF AMERICA ROVAL 400 AND XFINITY 500 (CHARLOTTE ROAD COURSE, MARTINSVILLE)
The standard of clutch in 2022. Christopher Bell had his back against the wall heading into the Round of 12 and Round of 8 elimination races in the Cup Series Playoffs. With a pair of late-race pit stops at both the Roval and Martinsville, Bell fought his way to the lead in both instances and took the checkered flag to snag his first Championship 4 appearance in NASCAR’S premier series.
ROSS CHASTAIN XFINITY 500 (MARTINSVILLE)
Likely to go down as one of the great moves in NASCAR’S history, Ross Chastain pulled a oncein-a-lifetime video game maneuver in the Round of 8 elimination race.
Down a handful of points to rival Denny Hamlin, Chastain needed a miracle to be one of the four drivers to go for the championship. Heading into the final corner on the Virginia short track, the 30-year-old put the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet into fifth gear and let fate decide what happened next. Off Turn 4, Chastain passed multiple cars, including Hamlin, to complete the viral moment now known as the “Hail Melon.”
TY GIBBS XFINITY SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP RACE (PHOENIX)
Not just a clutch race but a clutch weekend for the 20-yearold. With all eyes on the young sensation, Gibbs won the pole for the Xfinity championship race and went on to lead 125 of 200 laps to earn his first title, holding off the hard-charging JR Motorsports cars of Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry.