Presented annually at the National Motorsports Press Association convention since 1969, the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award has recognized many standout competitors. Some have captured championships while others, such as Chastain, have made waves in the NASCAR Cup Series while contending for countless wins.
According to many members of the NMPA, there was another driver in contention for the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award. Chastain beat out reigning champion Joey Logano by a mere one vote.
LeeRoy Yarbrough was the first recipient of the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award. He received this honor after the 1969 season in which he won a career-high seven races while driving for Junior Johnson. He finished 16th in the standings despite only starting 30 of the 54 races.
Chastain Created Conversations All Year Long
There was no other driver that created conversations in 2022 quite like Chastain. He was constantly the center of attention while winning races, making bold moves, angering other drivers, and making history.
The trip to Circuit of the Americas was a fitting example. Chastain captured his first career Cup Series win at the road course after punting former teammate AJ Allmendinger out of the way. This was a major moment in his career that featured stints with multiple teams across the three national series. It was also a jaw-dropping finish to an early-season race.
The year continued with Chastain driving aggressively and sparking comments from drivers and analysts alike about potential payback. The expectation was that there was no way anyone would let him reach the championship four.
None of this came to pass. Instead, Chastain went viral by riding the wall at Martinsville Speedway, gaining several positions on the final lap, and securing a spot in the championship four. He went on to finish second in the standings to cap off his first season with Trackhouse Racing.
Chastain Joins a List Full of Cup Series Champions
The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet fell two spots short of winning the Cup Series championship. He finished third in the championship race while Logano captured the checkered flag and his second Cup Series championship. Though he walked away with the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award.
There are several competitors that have captured both the annual award from the NMPA and a Cup Series title during their careers. This list includes Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Bobby Isaac, and David Pearson.
Johnson, Earnhardt, and Petty all have the most Cup Series championships in NASCAR history, but the former driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has the most Driver of the Year awards in his collection. He has seven while Earnhardt collected four. Petty has two of these awards from 1974 and 1975.
Interestingly enough, Logano did not win the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award either time that he captured the Cup Series championship. He lost out to Chastain in 2022, and he lost out to Harvick in 2018. The Closer also beat out Chase Elliott in 2020 after winning nine races.