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Brad Keselowski Becomes Next Gen’s 26th Winner. Who’s Next?

2024 Cup Darlington I Brad Keselowski, No. 6 RFK Racing Ford, burnout (Credit: NKP)

There are plenty of things to criticize about the Next Gen car, but the effect it’s had on organizational parity is not one of them.

By winning Sunday’s (May 12) Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, Brad Keselowski broke a 110-race winless drought to score his first win with RFK Racing and become the 26th unique winner in the Next Gen era.

Twenty-six. Think about that for a moment. Two winners are retired, while another is racing part-time (Shane van Gisbergen), which means that 66% of full-time drivers (23/35) in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season have won a Cup race with the Next Gen car.

Keselowski’s win means that only one full-time driver who won in the Gen 6 era has yet to win in the Next Gen car. And of the 11 full-time drivers that have yet to win a Cup race, only two have made more than 100 starts. More on them later.

Twenty-six winners. Who will be the 27th?

To kick this off, there have been six first-time Cup winners since the start of the Next Gen era in 2022. All but van Gisbergen scored their first win in the 2022 season, and half of the names on this list have gone on to win Cup multiple races.

Driver First NG Win Total NG Wins NG Chronology
Austin Cindric 2022 Daytona 500 1 1
Chase Briscoe 2022 Phoenix 1 1 4
Ross Chastain 2022 COTA 4 6
Daniel Suarez 2022 Sonoma 2 12
Tyler Reddick 2022 Road America 6 13
Shane van Gisbergen 2023 Chicago Street 1 23
(For the following charts, “NG” is an abbreviation for Next Gen car. The “NG Chronology” shows the order that the drivers have won with the car. Austin Cindric won the 2022 Daytona 500, so he was the first winner. Kyle Larson won the following week at Auto Club Speedway, so he was the second winner and so on).

In addition to first-time winners, the Next Gen car has seen not one, not two, but six drivers snap a winless drought that spanned at least two seasons (72 races). Keselowski was the most recent addition to the list and he’s the only driver with more than three wins to have that long of a dry spell before winning with the new car.

Driver Wins Before NG First NG Win Winless Drought Total NG Wins NG Chronology
Austin Dillon 3 2022 Daytona 2 78 Races 1 16
Erik Jones 2 2022 Southern 500 109 Races 1 17
Chris Buescher 1 2022 Bristol (Pavement) 222 Races 4 19
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 2023 Daytona 500 199 Races 1 20
Michael McDowell 1 2023 Indianpolis RC 94 Races 1 24
Brad Keselowski 35 2024 Darlington 1 110 Races 1 26
As previously mentioned, two winners in the Next Gen car have since retired: Kevin Harvick — who…

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