From veteran Brad Keselowski making his debut with the newly rebranded Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing to rookie newcomer Harrison Burton making his first start in the iconic No. 21 Ford of Wood Brothers Racing, this year’s Daytona 500 will showcase a lot of new and familiar faces in new places. While it’s true that the vast majority of the drivers in The Great American Race will be sporting familiar colors on their respective vehicles, the 2022 season opener for NASCAR’s premier division will also usher in enough novelty throughout the field to confuse anyone besides the most diehard of NASCAR fans.
Burton, Austin Cindric (who replaces Keselowski in the fabled No. 2 car of Team Penske) and Todd Gilliland represent arguably one of the most talented rookie classes in recent memory and could contend for a win right out of the gate at Daytona. The same is true for Keselowski as well as fellow former champion Kurt Busch, who will take the green flag for the first time with 23XI Racing — the Michael Jordan- and Denny Hamlin-owned organization where he will compete as a teammate to Bubba Wallace. Busch, the 2017 Daytona 500 winner, has spent the last several seasons in the No. 1 Chevrolet of Chip Ganassi Racing but will debut in a No. 45 Toyota for 23XI.
Back in the Cup Series this year after a notable absence is Ty Dillon, who is competing for series newcomer GMS Racing in a No. 42 Chevy. Meanwhile, Ross Chastain has moved from Chip Ganassi Racing to Trackhouse Racing, which purchased the assets of Ganassi and has expanded from one car to two.