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Sunday Championship Notebook

 

Notebook Items:

  • Ross Chastain finishes runner-up in first Champ 4 appearance
  • Thoughts and prayers with JGR following Coy Gibbs passing
  • Austin Cindric takes home Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors
  • End of an era for Kyle Busch

 

November 6, 2022

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Ross Chastain finishes runner-up in first Champ 4 appearance

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – After a season of career-firsts – a maiden victory and a dramatic lap to qualify for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race – Ross Chastain insisted he felt more hopeful than disappointed after coming up short of hoisting his first major racing trophy on Sunday.

 

Chastain’s No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet finished third in the Phoenix Raceway season finale – 1.2-seconds behind the winner, and newly-crowed 2022 series champion Joey Logano. After moving forward from a 25th-place starting spot on the grid and competing inside the top five for most of the final laps, Chastain felt confident that he and the two-year-old Trackhouse Racing team had done all it could. And, if nothing else, set the stage for future championship runs.

 

“The emotions are surprisingly good," said Chastain, who earned his first two NASCAR Cup Series wins this season (at the Circuit of The Americas road course and at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

 

“I’m not sad, I’m not upset. … I actually can’t believe how good I feel. I’m so proud and so happy to get this first shot in the championship," he added.

 

The other two championship-eligible drivers, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished 10th and 28th, respectively – both having to overcome different challenges on Sunday

 

Bell and the entire Joe Gibbs Racing organization received heart-breaking news in the hours immediately before the race that Coy Gibbs – the team’s Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer – and son of team founder Joe Gibbs – had passed away the night before at the age of 49.

 

Bell said the team met and decided it should still race on Sunday. And he ran among the top-10 for much of the day, despite the tough circumstances.

 

“That was an experience unlike I’ve ever gone through in my entire life," Bell said. ‘In that moment, you don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. If you should get in the race car and race or you shouldn’t race. Myself, Denny [Hamlin] and the other JGR drivers were all in the same boat, we didn’t know what to do.

 

“[JGR President] Dave Alpern actually came back to the race track right before driver intros and told us, ‘you need to go out there and race’ and that’s what we did.

 

“Definitely just an incredible twist of emotion and a perspective change for sure. You think that this is the big picture then you get news like this and realize it’s the small picture in the grand scheme of things."

 

Elliott, who won the Regular Season Championship, also spent time at the front of the field, but contact between his and Chastain’s Chevrolets on a re-start with a little more than 100 laps remaining sent his Chevrolet spinning into the wall. The team worked on the car, but Elliot ultimately finished the race two laps down.

 

“I’m not sure, I’m not sure," Elliott repeatedly answered when asked about the incident with him and Chastain. “Looking forward to the offseason and really proud of our team for the fight we put in today. Like we just kind of peaked right before we crashed, got our car driving pretty good, just had our best pit stop of the day so that was all solid, and we were right there next to the 22 [Logano].

 

“Thought we had a shot at it all the way up until we didn’t."

 

For both Chastain and Bell, 2022 marked the best NASCAR Cup Series season of their careers statistically. It was the first Championship 4 appearance for both, as well.

 

Chastain, 29, of Alva, Florida, spent 19 weeks ranked among the top three in the championship standings, earned his first two NASCAR Cup Series wins and more than doubled his previous single season marks for top-five (15) and top-10 (21) finishes.

 

Bell, 27, of Norman, Oklahoma, scored three wins and career highs in top-five (12) and top-10 (20) finishes.

 

Elliott, 26, of Dawsonville, Ga., tied his career best mark in wins (five) and earned 12 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. His three pole positions were most in his seven fulltime seasons.

 

Thoughts and prayers with JGR following Coy Gibbs passing

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Coy Gibbs – son of NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Joe Gibbs – passed away Saturday night at his hotel in Phoenix.

 

“It is with great sorrow that Joe Gibbs Racing confirms that Coy Gibbs (co-owner) went to be with the Lord in his sleep last night. The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers and asks for privacy at this time.” - the team said in a statement released in the moments before Sunday’s green flag.

 

Word of the loss spread quickly throughout the Phoenix facility and a moment of silence was held in Gibbs honor just prior to the green flag. Gibbs was only 49 years old, the same age his older brother JD Gibbs was when he passed away in 2019.

 

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Coy Gibbs. On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I extend my deepest condolences to Joe, Pat, Heather, The Gibbs family and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing on the loss of Coy, a true friend and racer," NASCAR Chairman Jim France said.

 

Kyle Busch, who drove 15 years for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization was visibly upset on the grid just before the race start.

 

“Words can’t describe this day. Today was already going to be tough enough but it’s even more gut wrenching now. Heartbroken.” He posted on Twitter just before the race.

 

Coy Gibbs is the father of four and had just watched his oldest child, 20-year-old Ty Gibbs win the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship on Saturday night.

 

“I’m definitely proud of him," Coy Gibbs said of Ty, “I’ve always got his back as his father."

 

“Watching it today, just to see his determination," Coy continued. “I think he’s got skills and he’s determined. It definitely made me proud. I think for my wife, we were both proud, just because he hammered down and did his job."

 

Austin Cindric takes home Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

 

Team Penske’s Austin Cindric started the 2022 year with a victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 and he took the season’s final checkered flag on Sunday having earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

 

Cindric, 24, has the Daytona 500 victory, earned five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes this season and advanced to the second round of the Playoffs.

 

He said securing that all-important early season victory allowed him to essentially learn the ropes of NASCAR’s major league as a rookie with the security of knowing he’d already earned a Playoff position.

 

“It does change the regular season in the fact I’m able to go through the regular season without the pressure of having to win a race as well as figure everything out," Cindric said. “And that was probably more of an advantage than I gave it credit for, not having to put pressure on yourself, your team or have to be desperate.

 

“From that standpoint I think it was something made me be able to be patient or aggressive in areas I needed to be.”

 

Following Cindric in the rookie standings are fellow Ford drivers - Wood Brothers’ Harrison Burton and Front Row Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland. Burton’s best finish was a third place at the Indianapolis road course this summer. Gilliland’s top effort was a fourth place at the Indy road course.

 

End of an era for Kyle Busch

 

Kyle Busch’s seventh-place finish in Sunday’s championship finale marked his final race at Joe Gibbs Racing after a celebrated 15-year tenure that included two championships (2015 and 2019) and 56 of his career total 60 victories and finished in the top-10 in the championship 11 of his 15 seasons with the team.

 

He finished seventh in his final outing with JGR on Sunday – driving a No. 18 Toyota whose paint job included images of his time celebrating all the success he shared with the team over the course of his tenure.

 

Busch has signed to drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing beginning in 2023.

 

“It’s been a long road and I owe a lot of my success to Toyota Racing. I wouldn’t’ be where I am today without your support through the years. You guys will always be family to me, but I look forward to seeing you in my rearview come Daytona next year.”

 



 

Joey Logano dominates at Phoenix for second NASCAR Cup title

Getty Images

November 6, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – It was the perfect ending to a season Joey Logano started with a win.

 

Dominating the action in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway, Logano started on the pole, won the first stage, led a race-high 187 laps, won the race and claimed his second series championship (2018, 2022).

 

Logano joins two-time champion Kyle Busch as only the second active driver in the series to hold more than one title. The victory was his fourth of the season, his third at Phoenix and the 31st of his career in his 507th Cup start.

 

Back in February, Logano won the competitive debut of NASCAR’s Next Gen car in the exhibition Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. On Sunday, in a sprawling desert city some 370 miles to the east of L.A., he put the finishing touch on a dream season.

 

Logano finished .301 seconds ahead of Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney. Championship 4 contender Ross Chastain was closing fast in the final laps and came home third, 1.268 seconds behind Logano on the track and one spot behind the driver of the No. 22 Ford in the final standings.

 

“We did it!” exulted Logano, the first Ford active driver to hold two championships since David Pearson in 1968-1969. “We're champions again—yes! Oh, my God, I'm so excited. Thank you to everybody, my team. You guys are amazing. Gave me a good race car, good pit stop there at the end, got us up in front. Boy, that was just intense there at the end.

 

“It's all about championships. That's what it's all about, and we worked so hard the last couple weeks trying to put ourselves in position.”

 

Logano restarted third on Lap 280 after hard contact between the cars of Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell caused the sixth and final caution of the day. Three laps later he passed Chase Briscoe for the lead and opened a lead of nearly three seconds over Chastain, who was pursuing from third place.

 

Chastain had the faster car in the final 20 laps but ran out of time.

 

“I had a car fast enough to chase him down at the end,” Chastain said. “I think we did everything we could. That was a heck of a drive for us.”

 

A disastrous 19.8-second pit stop under caution on lap 271 cost Championship 4 driver Christopher Bell an opportunity to contend for the win. Bell restarted 16th with 33 laps remaining and worked his way up to 10th at the finish.

 

“We fought hard, and at the end of the race… (until) the last pit stop, or what we thought was going to be the last pit stop, we were right there battling for it,” Bell said. “I’m just proud to be in this position, proud to be at Joe Gibbs Racing and race this No. 20 car. We were there, and hopefully, we can come back here next year.

 

“The 22 (Logano) was lights-out all weekend. The best car definitely won the championship.”

 

Chase Elliott, the 2020 series champion, wasn’t in position to race for the title after Lap 205. In a wild restart, Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet spun off the nose of Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet and slammed sideways into the interior SAFER barrier in the dogleg of the one-mile speedway.

 

Elliott lost a lap in the pits under repairs and lost another on the track on Lap 230. He finished 28th, two laps down, but he scrupulously avoided laying blame for the incident after the race.

 

“Yeah, just disappointed, obviously, ended our day and ended our chance at a win or a championship,” Elliott said. “Just disappointing.”

 

Chastain, on the other hand, provided his in-depth analysis of the wreck. 

 

“William (Byron) didn’t get going quite as well as he wanted to, and I got to the left of him,” Chastain said. “And I saw an erratic move he (Elliott) made to cover it, and I was already there. Yeah, it’s not how I want to race him or those guys.”

 

Ford drivers Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick finished fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by William Byron, Kyle Busch (in his final trip for Joe Gibbs Racing), Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Bell. 

 

Before the race, Bell received the news that Coy Gibbs, vice chairman of Joe Gibbs Racing, son of team owner Joe Gibbs and father of NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs, had passed away in his sleep hours after seeing his son wrap up the title.

 

“All of a sudden you wake up this morning and you are racing for a championship, and you are happy, you are elated, and then your world comes crashing down,” Bell said. “Whenever you get news like that, it puts it in perspective that there is more to this than racing. The whole Gibbs family is in all of our prayers. I’m thinking of them.”

 

NASCAR Cup Series Race - 35th Annual NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Sunday, November 6, 2022

 

                1. (1)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 312.

                2. (2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 312.

                3. (25)  Ross Chastain (P), Chevrolet, 312.

                4. (3)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 312.

                5. (7)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312.

                6. (8)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 312.

                7. (22)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312.

                8. (21)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312.

                9. (4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 312.

                10. (17)  Christopher Bell (P), Toyota, 312.

                11. (14)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, 312.

                12. (16)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 312.

                13. (15)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 312.

                14. (30)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 312.

                15. (12)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312.

                16. (9)  Cole Custer, Ford, 312.

                17. (10)  Daniel Hemric(i), Toyota, 312.

                18. (27)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 312.

                19. (6)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 312.

                20. (13)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 312.

                21. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 312.

                22. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 311.

                23. (11)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 311.

                24. (28)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 311.

                25. (20)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 311.

                26. (32)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 311.

                27. (26)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 311.

                28. (5)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 310.

                29. (31)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 309.

                30. (34)  Cody Ware, Ford, 308.

                31. (33)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 307.

                32. (29)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 307.

                33. (35)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 304.

                34. (24)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 304.

                35. (18)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, Electrical, 270.

                36. (36)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 84.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  104.757 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 58 Mins, 42 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.301 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 39 laps.

Lead Changes:  11 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano (P) 1-87;C. Custer 88-90;J. Logano (P) 91-158;R. Blaney 159-187;J. Logano (P) 188;R. Blaney 189-251;A. Allmendinger(i) 252;A. Bowman 253;R. Blaney 254-270;J. Logano (P) 271;C. Briscoe 272-282;J. Logano (P) 283-312.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Joey Logano (P) 5 times for 187 laps; Ryan Blaney 3 times for 109 laps; Chase Briscoe 1 time for 11 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 3 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 1 lap; AJ Allmendinger(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,12,14,5,19,9,24,4,8,2

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,22,19,14,4,20,24,5,8,2

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. We’ll go straight to questions.

 

  1. There was never a doubt in your mind; what was it like during the race? You pretty much dominated.

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, we had a good car, and I told the guys, after we put it on the pit the other day: We got them down; now we put our foot on them.

 

That’s the attitude you’ve got to have. It’s just what it is when it comes to this level. Your feelings are checked at the door, and it’s all about winning and nothing less than that.

 

When you get this far, I said it all week, we weren’t satisfied with being in the Championship 4. There was nothing to celebrate for us. We’ve been here before. We know what it feels like to lose. It’s the worst feeling in the world, if I’m being honest, and winning is the best feeling in the world.

 

It’s great to be able to accomplish it. I said that this was revenge for 2020. It certainly was. Something that’s going to stick with me for a while.

 

Just super proud of this race team, super proud of everybody on it, not just the 22 team but everybody that puts a bunch of effort into this. You think of everyone at Team Penske, everyone at Roush Yates, everyone at Shell and Pennzoil and Ford and everybody that really supports us and not just them but their families.

 

You guys know how it is. You’re gone and you’re on the road all year long, it’s a grind. If you have kids, your spouse is pretty much raising your kids alone. It’s hard. It’s not just for me that way, it’s everybody that’s on this whole series all year long, in hopes that you win a championship.

 

I found out in 2018 — I say it all the time. I found out in 2018 how big the team really is, and I carry that weight with me now, knowing how big it is and the impact it makes on their families.

 

A lot more gifts under the Christmas tree now, so I’m excited about this.

 

  1. You’re now a two-time champion; there’s only one other active multi-time champion. What’s the significance of having a second now and chasing more?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it’s great. I guess I haven’t really put much thought into it yet. It’s awesome to hear it.

 

I guess the greed in me feels like I should have four or five at the moment, so I guess the feeling is it’s about time. But that’s just how I am and how I work, I guess.

 

This one is special for a lot of reasons, and one thing that I think probably stands out most to me is just the way Paul did it and we all did it together all the way through.

 

I feel like that’s probably one of the most special things. When we won in Vegas, we sat down Monday and started coming up with a meeting agenda, a bunch of meeting agendas that we can go over and reviewing film together as a team, going through pit stops, reviewing, rolling times on pit road, all these little subcategories that happened and making sure the details are all in the right place.

 

That was the difference maker. We knew we would have a fast race car, and we knew we’d make those decisions and we’d be close because we had plenty of time to really go through all that, and we weren’t bad here in the spring.

 

But we knew details were going to be the difference of winning and losing. We had the advantage this two and a half weeks to really work together and do that.

 

It’s a grind. I’m telling you right now it’s a grind the last two and a half weeks. This is all we thought about. You put everything else — any other distraction gets put to the side. And it’s tough for everybody. It’s tough for everyone’s families. But you have to. You can’t waste the opportunity that’s here in front of us.

 

All the way through the weekend, when it came to practice and waiting for qualifying, we were in Paul’s bus at 6:00 in the morning going through things. That’s what we all did as a group together.

 

We were in there this morning at 7:00 going over stuff to make sure we were prepared for today. We made sure that there was no stone unturned when it came to preparing for this race. When you saw how confident I was and my team was, it’s because we were truly ready.

 

You can’t fake confidence. You can maybe show it a little bit, but truly deep down inside, you have to believe that if you’re going to be ready for this battle ahead of you.

 

I never felt more ready, and a lot of credit goes to Paul, for taking the time and the effort and forcing us to do it together as a team.

 

There’s plenty of crew chiefs that are up that early. I get it. But they’re not doing it together with their whole team, and I think that’s the difference maker for us.

 

  1. I know you were close with the JGR family prior to 2013. Given the tragedy earlier today, what were your emotions when you found out?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I mean, I found out before the race, and I still honestly don’t know the details of anything. It’s such an interesting spot as you sit there preparing to run a championship race and then you hear somebody that has been in your life, known for a while — and I still don’t know the details, but it’s just sad. I don’t have words to explain how that is.

 

I feel for Ty more than anything. When you take all the championship racing stuff out, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. It’s great that we’re up here and we won a championship, but something happens to your family, it doesn’t matter. Like that’s the difference.

 

For the whole sport, it’s a sad day. For me, it’s a bittersweet type of thing because here we are winning a championship, and here we are one of the people that’s a leader in our sport and someone I’ve known for a while is gone, and I don’t really know how to explain that and how hard that is.

 

Obviously our prayers and thoughts go to the Gibbs family and everyone over at JGR. When you think they’ve had a rough run at it, I couldn’t imagine how Joe feels right now.

 

Yeah, I don’t really know what else to say. It’s hard. I couldn’t imagine. I don’t know what it’s like. But for Ty to lose his dad, that’s just hard.

 

  1. Roger was in here, he said that when Brad was leaving, he told you that you’re now the veteran, you’re in charge, you’ve got to step up. What did you do to meet that request of his?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s just me stepping up. I feel like Blaney stepped up a lot, and Austin is a good leader right off the bat, too, with this Next-Gen car.

 

Yes, my experience is valuable because I’ve been here a long time and I know how things work and I know how the sport works and all those type of things. That’s all well and good. But I had to unlearn a lot of things when it came to the race car itself.

 

I feel like we — I’m not the type of leader that wants to be on a pedestal above everybody and say, hey, I’ve been here the longest, listen to me.

 

It’s not how I do it, it’s not how Paul does it, it’s not what I think is best.

 

I feel like the best way a lot of times is to really get everyone’s opinion and gather it and form your own opinion; and if it’s something you feel truly strong about, you fight for it.

 

And then as a team, that’s what I want: I want my teammates as drivers to voice their opinions and put something together. When we feel like something is right, we form one voice together.

 

Same thing all the way through it, from TC all the way down. That’s what we want as a race team.

 

That means there’s hard conversations that just have to happen. That’s good to have. As a leader, together, that’s okay with me. I’m fine with the tough conversations. I love tough conversations. They’re better, if you ask me. That’s what you need. That’s where growth comes from. It doesn’t come from shoving things underneath the rug.

 

This is great, and that’s what — this is where the hard conversations happen, when they come to championships at the end of the day. And when you think of what Penske was able to do this year as a team, winning an INDYCAR championship and a Cup championship in the same year, never been done before, that’s a really special thing.

 

I don’t know what they have planned for this one, but I’m sure it’s going to be a fun off-season for us.

 

  1. As you referenced, on a day that Ty loses his father, your son got to walk with you to go get the checkered flag, get in the car, do donuts, ride to Victory Lane and be a part of the celebration. What does it mean to be able to do that with your son and the perspective that it happens on a day like this with fathers and sons?

 

JOEY LOGANO: That just goes to prove that you’ve got to cherish every moment in life. You don’t know when the next one happens. You don’t know when your number is called. You just don’t.

 

We always say God has a plan. I agree with that, but it doesn’t make it easier.

 

So there’s definitely — it’s challenging for a lot. For me having Hudson with me — we left Jameson and Emilia at home just because this time change was — we tried to make this happen. We really did. Knowing that we won a few weeks ago, we tried to put them on West Coast time.

 

Turns out Jameson wakes up at 5:00 a.m. no matter what time you put him to sleep. You can put him to bed at 10:00 or 6:30; he wakes up at 5:00 a.m. He’s a machine. We said, You know what? You’re staying, bud. Love you.

 

Hudson can sleep in a little bit, so that’s good, so we brought him along.

 

Honestly, ever since Kevin took Keelan in Michigan for a ride in the car, I said, I want to do that. Like I always wanted to do that just because, I don’t know, it’s cool.

 

Hudson and I, like he’s my oldest and we have a connection there, and he’s four. The two-year-old, it’s a little harder to get there. As you get older, you get to a point where you see their interest and stuff, and how do you — every night before he goes to bed he wants to talk about race cars and he wants to talk about his go-kart in the backyard, and we have a connection of — shoot, we read car magazines. That’s his bedtime story. He wants to go through classic car magazines.

 

So he’s into it. We kind of share — he’s just a little me. I see so much of me in him, it’s kind of funny.

 

Like I said, I always dreamed of winning with him here because I always wanted to take him for a ride. We’d go for rides in hotrods all the time together, and it’s definitely not the first donuts we’ve done together.

 

But the first time in a race car, well — on the racetrack. It’s the first time on a racetrack that we got to do donuts together. That’s just cool, to see him running up there, grabbing the checkered flag, that’s — it’s hard to explain.

 

If you have kids, you understand the love that you have for them. It’s truly unconditional love. To see him smiling and celebrate the moment together, it’s truly the most awesome feeling.

 

And the fact that we can talk about it, right. The first time I won it, he was like nine months old. He didn’t know which way was up, could barely hold his head up. Now to see him running up there and grabbing the flag and going for a ride with me, couldn’t have picked a better race to do that for the first time.

 

  1. When you were doing the donuts, I’m sure you looked over at him, so what did you see? What was his face reaction, and did it look that much more different than any other donuts? As a father, what was it like to do that with your son, and what did you see?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Well, the race cars are a little louder than our Fox-body at home. So that’s his favorite car. We have a ’91 Fox-body Mustang. He loves that car. It’s got a big ole supercharged motor in it and it does some great donuts, and that’s good.

 

And exhaust comes out the back, and it’s not that loud, everything is okay — it is loud, but it comes out the back, it’s okay, the windows are up. This thing is a little louder, and the exhaust is right there. Like, Hold your ears, hang on. So we did some gentle donuts together.

 

He’s so funny because he’s so quiet, and then when you get him home, and especially before bedtime when he’s trying to stay awake for an extra 30 minutes, that’s when he becomes the most talkative.

 

That’s the same as I was. I know I’m long-winded tonight, but I was a shy little kid that always had my head in my dad’s leg all the time when I was around people, and same thing with him.

 

  1. It’s been since 1968 and 1969 since Ford has had a two-time Cup Series championship under their brand. I was wondering what that means to you to bring that back to their wheelhouse.

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, like I said, this championship, it takes an army and it’s everybody, and Ford is a big player in this and how we all work together.

 

Like I said, it takes a lot, and Ford’s engineers and the design process of designing this Next Gen body and all the things that go along with that, it’s been a grueling couple years for them and making sure they do it correctly to where we can go out there and compete for a championship. That’s what the hopes are for.

 

They brought a great Mustang for us. To be able to say we won a couple championships together driving a Ford, yeah, I take pride in that, absolutely. We did it together.

 

That’s why it means so much sitting here today. The relationships that you make over the years in this sport, they mean so much. With you guys or with your team members or with your sponsors, you care about everybody. It’s a special group that we all are.

 

To have a sponsor with Shell and Pennzoil that has been with me over the last 10 years and for many years to come, and Ford with Roger and everyone at Team Penske, I take a lot of pride in that because it means you have to do it correctly.

 

The short-term deals don’t work out for many reasons, and when you can make them work for a long time, it means you’re doing business correctly and you’re treating people fair, and that’s what it’s about. It’s all about a fair deal.

 

I feel like everyone is treated fairly and that’s why everyone is happy and that’s why we can win races together.

 

  1. I know you had your moment with your son in the car, but how do you celebrate a second Cup championship, and is it different from the first?

 

JOEY LOGANO: I mean, it’s definitely — it feels a little different, if I’m being honest. It definitely feels a little different.

 

But it still feels really special. What I remember of the first championship was the moment when you get out of the car and you see everybody for the first time. That’s the most special moment of the whole thing.

 

I knew it was going to be this time. Last time it was a surprise. I didn’t know, like, oh — now seeing your team, seeing your wife, your kids, your mom, your dad, like just all that stuff for the first time and celebrating together and really taking a moment to really enjoy that, even more so than we did last time, I was conscious about that because it’s the best moment.

 

That first 10 minutes is the best. There’s just nothing like it. It’s so hard to achieve it, and you just hope to have that feeling again.

 

Yeah, I took my time. I’m glad I did. Because, like I said, it’s just so tough to do.

 

  1. You came into the Cup Series as a young rookie in 2009 looking for a Cup championship. Now you’re a multi-time champion, a father. How has your outlook and life and winning a championship changed and evolved over time?

 

JOEY LOGANO: I mean, just like everybody else. I’m no different than anybody else. As you get older, your perspective on life changes. When you’re a kid, you take all the risk with no consequences. You don’t think twice about anything.

 

As you get older, you start to realize what really matters in life and taking everything a lot more serious in everything you do and more just intentional about everything you do and why you do it and the things you say.

 

Because, listen, they’re watching me. Kids are watching me now. I make sure that they — I’m going to have to have a talk with Hudson and Jameson and Emilia one day about, yeah, dad screwed up a lot, and it’s all on TV now. When you’re going through YouTube, don’t do that. That’s not the right way to do it.

 

But I think being honest with them is important, but it is something that, as you get older, you start to think through things differently, and you become better.

 

I feel like I’ve never been a better race car driver than I am today. I’ve never been more committed about it, even with more — I don’t want to call it distractions, but more things going on in my life. I’ve never had more going on in my life than I do right now with three crazy kids at home and other businesses and just stuff.

 

To be able to juggle all that and prioritize all that has been the difference for me. And I honestly feel like all of it’s made me a better person altogether. Long ways to go, though. I’m not there yet; I can promise you that.

 

  1. Perfect follow-up to what Jonathan was talking about. The big takeaway from this week has been your confidence, not just your inner confidence but the way that you’ve had this outward confidence this whole week where you feel like you’ve never wavered. What has this evolution with confidence been like for you? What was it about this week that kind of spurred that in you? You said you didn’t want to play any mind games and said, hey, we’re going to win this, and you were really consistent over the course of the last week.

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it wasn’t meant to be mind games. You just asked me how I felt and I was honest, and I really felt like we were in a spot to win this thing.

 

I truly believe that attitudes are contagious, good or bad. And when you’re able to bring that attitude to your race team in a moment like this, as a driver there, that just carries through it.

 

I believe confident people win. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is ever going to believe in you? How are you ever going to win?

 

But I also think you can’t fake that. I think of my first Championship 4 appearance, was I confident? No, I was a nervous wreck.

 

Are the nerves still there? Yeah, the nerves are still there. You don’t want to screw it up because you got this far. But I truly felt ready as a driver, and I felt like as a race team we went through everything we can possibly go through.

 

At that point the confidence is real. We’ve been here before. We knew how to do things. We knew how to prepare. We went out and just did our job. We put it on the pin and then we won the race. Like that was the job at hand, and we nailed it.

 

Like I said, I couldn’t be more proud of everybody doing that together, but we knew we were going to do it. Like that was where we were at. We had the time to think about it and go through things, and we felt truly ready. That’s a great feeling going into a battle like this.

 

  1. Joey, Stage 2 was a little interesting there with the fuel mileage, obviously. Take me through the car and what was going through your mind as who knows if you saved enough fuel or not.

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I was going off the information that they were telling me over the radio of have we saved enough or where are we at. These days with SMT and stuff, they can see what I’m doing inside the car. So they can see how much I’m lifting and shifting or not shifting or short shifting, whatever I was doing in there.

 

So they have a better way of calculating it, better than the old days, because they can — it’s not just, hey, I’m lifting, I don’t know, 100 feet or so, something like that, I’m going really fast because 100 feet goes by really quick. I don’t know. It’s hard to say sometimes.

 

But they can now see like where I’m actually lifting on the racetrack.

 

I just did what they told me to do. I wanted to stay in front of the 19, just for track position purposes. I wanted to make sure that we gave ourselves our best foot forward when it came to the next pit stop. Yeah, nothing too crazy throughout it.

 

  1. In 2018 when you win your first championship, you welcome your son Hudson and then went on to win a championship and went through the emotions of that year. Now this year, right after the Clash, you and your wife give birth again, and once again you go through the whole emotions of winning another championship. What is that like, having to go through an entire season, when you have infants at home, and then maybe could they be good luck charms knowing you’ve won championships both seasons that you’ve welcomed new children?

 

JOEY LOGANO: That says that my hot-ass wife is a true bad-ass. That’s what it says. My bad-ass wife is what I should call her. My hot bad-ass wife; how’s that sound?

 

Yeah, it takes — I guess it’s hard at home right now. There’s a lot of sleepless nights at times. Shoot, I get to sleep at the racetrack, so it’s not as bad for me or as hard for me.

 

I don’t know if it’s a good luck thing or what it is, but it’s interesting that the years that we feel like we’re juggling the most and going through a transition at home have been successful years. Even 2020 we made the Championship 4; and like I said, I always feel like that race was the one that got robbed from us. We were in position to do everything correctly, and something not of our own doing cost us the win.

 

I don’t know what that is. I joked with Brittany: If we win, we might have to have another kid. But I don’t think so. I don’t think so (laughing). We might not do that. I think we’re good with three.

 

  1. A little earlier you said you told your kids, the ones that are home, that you’d be home soon but first we’re going to party a little bit. What do you envision that looking like tonight, this week, before you get home?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I don’t know, honestly. It’s a lot going through here. I know I’m going to LA, so I guess I’m not going home anytime soon.

 

I actually don’t know the schedule at all, if I’m being honest. I know I’m going to LA. I don’t know when I get to go back home. I don’t know.

 

I know there’s something we’re doing tonight. I don’t know where that — I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m here right now, and at some point I’m going to get this sticky suit off, because there’s champagne all over it, and we’ll go from there.

 

I have no idea. I think I’m probably here for another couple hours before I — I think I asked you, how much longer am I here? Okay. At some point we’re going to party. I don’t know when that is yet or where. Somebody has it figured out.

 

I shouldn’t be the person that ever leads a party; I can tell you that much. I’m like the worst at partying. That might be a good thing. This isn’t as entertaining as Ben was last year. I’m sorry.

 

  1. It’s not just your second championship, you just brought Paul Wolfe his second championship. I don’t think anybody would have thought it would take this long for Paul to get his second. How does that feel for you as a driver working with Paul and getting him that second championship?

 

JOEY LOGANO: I’m just happy for him. Paul wants it bad. Like I said, the way he was preparing, what he was doing, he put a lot on him over the last few weeks. I don’t know how he handles his pressure. Everyone kind of has their own way of what they do.

 

And I’m able to shut off when I go home. Paul is a lot quieter person than I am. If I get him to smile or cheer a little bit, I feel like I’ve really done something. I feel like he holds a lot of things inside, where I vent everything.

 

It’s been, I think, a tough few weeks for Paul and his family. Like I said, it’s hard. And the commitment that he put in the last couple weeks, I know his family sacrificed dad time and husband time to do this.

 

And so obviously I greatly appreciate that. And that’s why I’m so happy for him, because it takes a lot to do it, and hey, here we are.

 

I know how bad he wanted it. Once you win one of these things, you just want to win another one even worse. And he’s been close a few times since he won with Brad, so to bring that home with him is special.

 

  1. A lot is being made about your confidence this week, but I remember actually before the Vegas playoff race you were telling us that you’re a favorite every week. It seems like you’ve had quite a bit of confidence all season long. Now, unfortunately, you haven’t won 36 races this year. I was curious about what kind of strategies you use to build your confidence back up after weeks when things maybe don’t go the right way.

 

JOEY LOGANO: That’s a great question, and it is — as an athlete, you have to mentally be strong. That’s the difference with, I think, an athlete from others is that they’re able to control their mind in high-pressure moments.

 

You only learn that over time your own way. You can’t be somebody else. I can’t be the next Jimmie Johnson or whoever. I can only be the best Joey.

 

There’s times that I’m so mad at myself from a mistake, and I make them, but you also got to look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn. Without taking risks to make mistakes, you don’t grow.

 

That to me has always been kind of, okay, I made a mistake, I’m stronger now, I’m smarter now, I learned from it, it’s over, I’m the best. Now I have another reason to be better. Now I know I am the best, right. I made that mistake, I’m not that bad anymore, so now I’ve got to be better.

 

A bit of it is preaching to yourself. A bit of it is using these moments when you’re talking to the media that you’re kind of preaching to yourself about it a little bit.

 

I always feel like media day is a day that mentally I click, like I’m in. That’s kind of my motivational moment.

 

So I learned to love media days for that reason, because you really believe the things you’re saying, and you’re actually thinking about that stuff outside of just the race car details.

 

I always feel like that’s a moment where I click on.

 

  1. Speaking of media day, I was in the interview room for NBC, and I watched all four of you guys come through, and it was abundantly obvious, like, demeanor, body language, what you said, like you were the overwhelming favorite. No one was more comfortable that day than you. I know we joke about the 32-year-old being the old man of the group here, but did you feel like that was an edge going in, did you sense that, hey, I’ve got the experience? It felt like you really kind of embraced that. I’m wondering are you embracing that a little bit more being a veteran even though you’re still so young, you’ve been around so long?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, you try to find any advantage you can, and if experience is that, yeah, I would take that. That’s a good thing.

 

I don’t really know how to answer it, but I guess in a way you look at your competitors and you try to figure out, okay, where is there weaknesses.

 

I look at a lot of them, it was their first time here. I thought some of them were happy to be here. And when I looked at our team, we weren’t in that position. That made us different.’

 

I think that was something that set us apart. I thought these guys are happy to be here, and they’re trying to minimize the situation and saying that it’s just another race. And at that point I really felt like we were in a great spot because I’ve been here long enough to know it’s not another race, and you can’t minimize the situation. It’s this big. It is huge.

 

It hurts extra big when you lose, and it feels extra good when you win. There’s nothing like it.

 

I always felt like minimizing it just helps you sleep better at night, but that’s not the real way to do it, and I felt like it was just fake. It’s not the way I planned on it the whole year.

 

I love making situations bigger than what they are even bigger, because that pressure to me makes me better. Is it uncomfortable? Yeah. Is it easier for me to think in the way that — to minimize the situation, to feel better about it? Yeah, it definitely makes me more comfortable. Let me tell you, I felt like I had a 10,000-pound gorilla on my shoulders.

 

It’s tough. Like, I felt the pressure. Don’t get me wrong. But you’ve got to learn to love it because it’s right around the corner from having a moment like this.

 

  1. It’s been said all season long how people and drivers feel about their car. You won the Clash, and now you end the season as the champion, this current car. How will you look back at the season knowing all the challenges that came with it?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think everyone can probably agree it’s the most challenging year and unexpected year from a lot of ways. So many different winners, for one. I didn’t see that one coming.

 

The lack of consistency throughout the field, hard to really click off a bunch of top 5s and a bunch of wins. The teams that were strong weren’t strong for super long before someone else would figure something out, and just the unexpected pieces that come along with it, whether it’s the pit stops, the strategy, the way the races play out.

 

Boy, this year was an adventure, to say the least amount.

 

To think about how many things have changed from Phoenix in the spring to now, boy, we’re so much smarter with this race car now. It’s just kind of crazy to think about it all.

 

Yeah, it was a tough grind of a year, and a lot of times you just felt lost. A lot of times. The only thing that helped me is I realized that everyone else was lost with me. That’s one way to stay confident is when you know everyone else is lost, too.

 

  1. And you being from Connecticut, what would be something you would tell those young aspiring competitors from the New England area that want to do this?

 

JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it’s neat to think about where I came from, at Silver City Quarter Midget Club in Meriden, Connecticut, getting to go up there earlier this year, they have the Grands there, and to see all the kids there and just the memories come rushing back of everything that was there and the fun that it was. Racing with your — I was out there with my dad and just having a good time.

 

There’s just nothing like it. You probably don’t appreciate it enough when you’re a kid.

 

I always try to tell the kids that you should never take for granted the moment that you get to drive a car at its absolute limit because you don’t know how long you get to do that, and it’s special.

 

I always tell the parents that make sure it’s fun at that level because that’s what it’s about. It’s about having fun and competing as a kid. You don’t have to add all the pressure and make it a job.

 

That’s one thing I always think about kids racing these days, if you take it too serious, you’re going to have your whole life to make it serious. At this level it’s a job, and the only thing that’s fun is when you win, and that’s what it is.

 

So there’s nothing like those moments and the dreams that you have, right? This was my dream. I’m sitting here living my dream. How awesome is that. You think about it, I wanted to be a Cup champion, and sounded kind of funny when I went to school in Connecticut and no one else raced in class, and it was just me. And I brought trophies to show-and-tell, and they’re like, What the heck are you doing? Quarter Midget, what the heck does that even mean?

 

I had that dream. Maybe I was the odd one in the class, but this was it. I loved cars. I loved racing and I loved winning.

 

I just kept chasing my dream with all the great people around me, teaching me and learning lessons and a lot of commitment from my family, and look at us now. Kinda neat.

 

  1. Just wanted to ask you about your leadership in the sport. It seems like you’ve really, especially the last couple years, taken a proactive stance on trying to be a voice within the drivers’ group and within NASCAR. You’re going on Sirius every week for your time. How do you see that evolving for you now? At least it used to feel like the champion has a bigger platform. I don’t know if Larson and Elliott wanted to use it as much, but you have that now for yourself. How do you intend to go with that?

 

JOEY LOGANO: I have a few thoughts in mind. I don’t know if I should share them quite yet, but it is something I think about, to that point. You think of being a champion of the sport, you’re representing the sport. That’s a huge task at hand.

 

I don’t take it lightly, and I want to make the most of it because I care about us, all of us. This is all of our livelihoods, and it’s our job to make it better than it was the last generation.

 

To me I think of the guys that raced before us and think about what they grew our sport into. It wasn’t from just driving in circles all day long and ending in the same place. That’s pretty pointless when you think of it that way.

 

But when you can really grow an industry together and have a part of that — like I don’t work for NASCAR, but I have a voice and I have opinions and I care about whether it’s the media or the fan experience or the drivers making sure that things are safe and working together with that group, the integrity of competition out there. Those are things I think about.

 

This is important. We’ve got to hold true to what put us here but also not be too scared to grow and try new things.

 

When you think of our sport right now, we’re definitely trying new things, new car, new tracks, and you look at the Clash and how big of a success that was. You think of — gee, it’s been a long time since we had this championship format. But boy, has it brought some drama. People tune in and watch it because just crazy things happen. You can never call the playoffs now, and that’s because a group got together and came up with this awesome system. This stressful system.

 

There’s a lot of things that you do. You get to sit on the board of the Hall of Fame induction group that helps vote and persuade people on who should be in next year. I look forward to that more this time now that I know what’s going on there and how it works.

 

Yeah, there’s a few people on my mind that I think deserve to be in there, and I plan to voice my opinion on that when I get there.

 

Again, you think of things like that, I have the opportunity to take advantage of, and I should. I should. I’ve been here long enough. I’ve seen a lot of great things, and we’ve grown a lot together as a group.

 

We should celebrate that, for one, but we should always keep looking for better.

 

THE MODERATOR: Joey, congratulations on winning your second championship, and go enjoy the rest of the night.

 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 


Ty Gibbs holds off Noah Gragson for NASCAR Xfinity Series title

Getty Images

 

November 5, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – One week after igniting a maelstrom of controversy with his brutish tactics at Martinsville Speedway, Ty Gibbs held off charging Noah Gragson to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race and the series title that goes with it.

 

Starting from the pole, Gibbs won the first and second stages and led a race-high 125 of 200 laps, but those statistics belie how intensely competitive the race was.

 

Gragson and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier led 35 and 26 laps, respectively, and traded the lead with Gibbs as the sun went down and the track cooled.

 

But Gibbs’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was strong enough to win the day, giving the 20-year-old prodigy his seventh victory of the season and his 11th in 51 career starts.

 

Nevertheless, a large faction of the crowd greeted his victory celebration with catcalls and boos, the memory of the way Gibbs had wrecked teammate Brandon Jones to win last Saturday’s race at Martinsville still on top of mind.

 

“You know, what I did last week was unacceptable,” Gibbs said after climbing from his car. “And I apologize once again, but it was unacceptable because we could have had two shots to win this deal, and it was stupid from an organization standpoint. All my fault.

 

“I can sit here and tell you I'm sorry as much as I can, but it's not going to fix it. I've got to fix my actions. I felt like today I had a good race, felt like I made some good moves. Me and the 7 (Allgaier) were racing really hard. I felt like hopefully we put on a great show for you guys, the fans, and thank you for all that you guys do.

 

“Yeah, I don't want to be the one with the boos, and I'm the one that put myself in that position. But I don't want this championship to be remembered for boos; I want it to be remembered for hard work and our team. Awesome job.” 

 

With all the breathtaking side-by-side racing, lap after lap, the difference came down to performance on pit road. When the Championship 4 drivers pitted under the seventh caution on Lap 160, an 18.8-second stop dropped Gragson from third to eighth for a restart on Lap 165.

 

Gibbs’ crew, in contrast, had its best stop of the day—13.7 seconds—and grabbed the lead from Allgaier off pit road. 

 

After a subsequent caution for Brandon Jones’ spin off the bumper of Gragson’s No. 8 Chevrolet on Lap 165, Gragson gained five spots on a Lap 171 restart, soon passed Allgaier for second and launched a ferocious pursuit of the eventual race winner.

 

Gragson closed within two car lengths through Turns 3 and 4 with two laps left but couldn’t get to Gibbs bumper. He crossed the finish line .397 seconds behind Gibbs.

 

“I gave it my best,” Gragson said. “I drove my ass off and gave it everything I had. Just got beat…

 

“He (Gibbs) raced like a champion tonight. He deserved it.”

 

Allgaier rolled home in third place. Kaulig Racing teammates Landon Cassill and AJ Allmendinger were fourth and fifth, respectively.

 

Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric, Austin Hill and Sammy Smith completed the top 10.

 

Championship 4 competitor Josh Berry was running in the top four in the late going but contact with the backstretch wall shortly after the final restart on Lap 171 dropped him to 13th at the finish.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race - 24th Annual NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Saturday, November 5, 2022

 

                1. (1)  Ty Gibbs (P), Toyota, 200.

                2. (4)  Noah Gragson (P), Chevrolet, 200.

                3. (11)  Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, 200.

                4. (6)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 200.

                5. (16)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 200.

                6. (8)  Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, 200.

                7. (19)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 200.

                8. (10)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 200.

                9. (14)  Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 200.

                10. (2)  Sammy Smith, Toyota, 200.

                11. (5)  Brandon Jones, Toyota, 200.

                12. (3)  Nicholas Sanchez, Chevrolet, 200.

                13. (9)  Josh Berry (P), Chevrolet, 200.

                14. (35)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 200.

                15. (30)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 200.

                16. (21)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 200.

                17. (37)  Rajah Caruth(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                18. (33)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 200.

                19. (20)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 200.

                20. (7)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 200.

                21. (17)  Parker Retzlaff, Chevrolet, 200.

                22. (22)  Kyle Sieg #, Ford, 200.

                23. (18)  Kaz Grala(i), Toyota, 200.

                24. (25)  Joey Gase, Toyota, 200.

                25. (36)  Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 200.

                26. (31)  Kris Wright(i), Chevrolet, 200.

                27. (28)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200.

                28. (15)  Stefan Parsons(i), Chevrolet, 199.

                29. (26)  Brennan Poole(i), Chevrolet, 198.

                30. (29)  JJ Yeley, Ford, 197.

                31. (32)  Dawson Cram, Ford, 196.

                32. (24)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 196.

                33. (34)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 196.

                34. (13)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 195.

                35. (23)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 194.

                36. (38)  Joe Graf Jr, Ford, 193.

                37. (27)  Brandon Brown, Ford, Suspension, 154.

                38. (12)  Dillon Bassett, Chevrolet, Engine, 152.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  91.174 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 11 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.397 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 49 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Gibbs (P) 1-49;N. Sanchez 50-53;S. Smith 54;T. Gibbs (P) 55-65;S. Smith 66-74;N. Gragson (P) 75-78;T. Gibbs (P) 79-94;J. Allgaier (P) 95-99;T. Gibbs (P) 100-116;N. Gragson (P) 117-147;J. Allgaier (P) 148-159;T. Gibbs (P) 160-169;J. Allgaier (P) 170-176;T. Gibbs (P) 177;J. Allgaier (P) 178-179;T. Gibbs (P) 180-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ty Gibbs (P) 7 times for 125 laps; Noah Gragson (P) 2 times for 35 laps; Justin Allgaier (P) 4 times for 26 laps; Sammy Smith 2 times for 10 laps; Nicholas Sanchez 1 time for 4 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 54,9,7,8,10,2,48,18,19,16

Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,7,9,18,10,1,19,16,2,8

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, Ty Gibbs. We’ll get right to questions.

 

  1. Noah was in here earlier and he said that you raced like a champion tonight and that you deserved it. There was the handshake afterward. What was your reaction to him showing you some respect after maybe some disrespect earlier this week?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure, definitely a lot of disrespect, but I really respect him coming up, and I feel like I’ve known him a really long time. Definitely some harsh words said, but it’s part of it. It’s part of the path that I’m on here.

 

I definitely respect him. I feel like we had a lot of great racing with Noah and his teammates, as well, tonight, so thank you to him and thank you for all the kind words. Awesome to be able to be to get this championship.

 

  1. There was a lot of hard racing between yourself, him and Justin. What was going through your mind?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, I feel like we put on a good show. I definitely know from inside the car it felt like there was a lot going on, and hopefully the fans enjoyed that. And that’s part of the Xfinity Series; names are made here. Hopefully I made one tonight, and we’ll move on.

 

  1. In this moment where there’s lots to celebrate, but there’s also a lot of just tension in the air and all the things that’s happened the past week, have you fully been able to embrace being able to celebrate and be in this moment? Or is it kind of having to balance both of those conflicting feelings?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, for sure, definitely have made some mistakes in the past and last weekend, but the best thing for me is to move on. And that’s what I did today in my race, and we won.

 

Just moving on and learning from my mistakes. I can’t go back and change the past; and if I could, I would. But that’s the — we can’t do that, and the best thing for me is to learn from it.

 

But to be able to be a champion is awesome. I remember you interviewing me in late model races at South Boston and Tri-County Speedway a long time ago, so it’s cool to see you.

 

  1. You and Layne Riggs —

 

TY GIBBS: Layne Riggs, Greg Marlowe, Josh Berry. Josh posted something this morning, so I reposted it from, five years ago. It’s crazy that time flies that fast.

 

  1. Because everyone has had very harsh and I guess kind of critical things to say this last week, how do you go about now as you transition to what we think is going to be the next stage of your career, to mend some of those relationships or perceptions? Do you try to do — do you want to interface with some of these people directly, or do you just want to let your actions kind of be the new normal?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure, I mean, my actions over most of it is what’s going to happen. People have had a lot of harsh things to say, and that’s their opinion. And some of it might be true, but I don’t really — that’s what they’re going to say, and I just do the best work I can, let my on-track performance show for that.

 

And if I made some mistakes, then I’m working hard as I can to fix them, I know I have, and that’s what I’m going to do. I can’t control what they say.

 

  1. With Noah coming up to you post-race, how much does that mean to you that a fellow competitor did come up to you and congratulate you?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, definitely really cool. I definitely didn’t expect it. So it’s cool to have that, and to have somebody like that show respect, it means a lot.

 

  1. Looking back on this week and the totality of it with a week like Martinsville, how stressful has it been on you?

 

TY GIBBS: It’s been a lot, but I feel like going into this weekend has maximized my compartmentalizing skills to race. It was definitely a lot, and I’ve learned a lot and moved on, and it’s cool to be a champion now.

 

  1. Simply how satisfying and gratifying to be battling with the JRM guys, with just respect and administration, as the drivers had mentioned, that it felt earned that you were the car to beat?

 

Yeah, really cool to be able to race them. I feel like we put on a great show, like I said, and really cool to be able to get our team a win I feel like that they deserved, our whole organization and manufacturer.

 

It’s really cool to be able to race with them like that. And hopefully we put on a great show for the fans, and hopefully everybody enjoyed it.

 

  1. Looked like in one stage of the race when Noah was ahead of you and Allgaier was behind that Noah was slowing down in the corner holding you up a little bit and trying to get Allgaier to get to your bumper. Did you ever feel outnumbered out there?

 

TY GIBBS: I mean, we’re 25 percent versus 75 percent. That’s part of it, and we raced really hard, and we were on the other side of the outcome.

 

I’m very proud of my team’s performance and what we did today. Very proud of the pit crew and everybody that was part of this whole situation.

 

  1. How important was it for you today to run a clean race? And if it had come down to it at the end where you were in second and had to go for a Hail Mary sort of thing to get the championship, is that something you would have had to think twice about?

 

TY GIBBS: Well, first of all, I don’t believe in any hypotheticals, but it was very important to have a great race. And like I said, I feel like we put on a great show for everybody. We had a lot of great, clean racing and ended up on the other side of it.

 

  1. Dale Jr. kind of gave the message to his drivers that he wanted to race you cleanly, he wanted to win the championship the right way. Going into today’s race, were you concerned at getting payback, whether it was from JRM, Jones or someone else?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, for sure. That’s out of my hands, and like I said, just kept my head down and raced really hard. I respect Dale a lot, and to be able to have his nice words said to me is really cool.

 

  1. Having so many different experienced teammates in Cup — Denny, Kyle, Martin — did you lean on them throughout this week, and did they give you some advice that you kind of parlayed into the race?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure. I’ve got great teammates. Every one of them mean a lot to me, and they’ve helped me out a lot in my career. To be able to have our private conversations is really cool, and to end up where I’m at as a champion is awesome.

 

It just shows all the hard work behind this organization. And they got one more to chase tomorrow. My cousin actually is pitting on the 20, so he’s going to go with his first year to the Championship 4, so I’m hoping they can get it done.

 

  1. Anything that you maybe heard from them that kind of played out in the race you could apply today?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, like I said, all our conversations are private, and I enjoy every one of them with all of our fellow teammates, and it means a lot to have great people there beside me.

 

  1. I’m sure this has been quite the roller coaster of a week with what happened at Martinsville, very tense weekdays this week, and now winning your first championship in the Xfinity Series. What do you think you’ll remember the most about this time when you look back on it?

 

TY GIBBS: You know, just teamwork and execution and hard work and discipline and being champions. That’s something to remember. It’s just awesome to be a part of it and to be a part of this whole crew.

 

I feel like this is a special crew. I feel like crews like this don’t come around that often. And to be able to do it and for me to win my championship the first year is really cool, and it means a lot. I feel like the Xfinity Series does a great job with the race, and I hope it never changes.

 

We’ll just keep going forward, and hopefully there’s more great racing and all the fans enjoy it.

 

  1. How much or in what ways has running Cup races this year helped you to get to this point tonight?

 

TY GIBBS: It helps for sure. I’m very thankful for the opportunity from Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin and everybody at 23XI. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.

 

I feel like it helps a good bit, but I feel like the cars are so different that it’s hard to kind of really relate. I think more you get off of is race craft and stuff like that, so it’s definitely helped.

 

  1. Given the importance of winning this race and this championship the right way tonight, were there any moments out there on the racetrack where you didn’t take a risk or where you may have restrained yourself from making a move you might otherwise have done?

 

TY GIBBS: You know, I felt like the JRM guys, we raced really clean and really hard all day. And there’s definitely times where all of us could have taken advantage of each other, but we didn’t, and we raced really good.

 

Hopefully that puts — I earned some respect back, and hopefully the fans enjoyed it.

 

  1. So much has obviously focused around what happened at Martinsville, but the stats are clear, 11 wins in 51 starts, a championship, like you said, in your first full-time season, and you’re only 20 years old. How quickly do you think you can take that success up to the Cup Series, and have you had a chance to process yet or just think about all that you were able to accomplish in such a short time?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure, I think that comes down to hard work and dedication. I have a love for the game, for the racing, and it kind of overcomes all of the pains and struggles that comes with making mistakes in front of millions of people at 20 and learning from that.

 

I definitely enjoy it. And when you enjoy work like this, as everybody knows in here, when you enjoy something, you love it, and there’s no motivation that comes with it.

 

If I need motivation for racing, then I shouldn’t be doing this in the first place. I don’t truly believe in motivation. It’s all temporary. It’s little bursts. It’s what you’ve got.

 

And I love racing, so it’s always everything I can do to get better — watching film, learning how to answer you guys’ hard questions, and making the right decisions.

 

I just enjoy the whole ride.

 

  1. After such a huge accomplishment like this and winning a championship, how do you go about celebrating, especially knowing you’ve got to be in the Cup car bright and early tomorrow?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure. At the end of the day, racing is more important than celebrating is, and celebrating isn’t going to make me better in the race car at all. And I’m 20, so I might have another Monster and call it a night and go wake up tomorrow and go have a whole new day, one more race, last race of the year.

 

  1. With that, you’ve touched on the noise that you faced coming into the race this week a little bit. What does it mean for you as a driver to be able to kind of put your head down, stay focused on the goal at hand and come through and execute in a situation where it feels like maybe a lot of the odds were possibly against you?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure. I think it comes down to compartmentalizing your feelings and your team doing the same and working hard. They’re always behind me, and they make the right decisions, and my pit crew does a great job.

 

I have an awesome manufacturer, I feel like the best manufacturer, and Toyota does such a wonderful job in all they do. And my sponsor is Monster. I have so many, Interstate, that are behind me.

 

  1. You mentioned how long we’ve known each other, and I remember in your late model days you were way more — your interviews were a lot more natural. Even when you won the Daytona road course I remember your post-race and how —

 

TY GIBBS: I got all my tears out that night, that’s why I didn’t have any today.

 

  1. You were raw and authentic. We make a lot in the media about how you read your talking points now. You’ve had to be a little bit more guarded when it comes to your image. I’m wondering how challenging has that part of it been. Because I think you want to be authentic and natural with us, but also sometimes it comes with saying the wrong things and finding yourself in a difficult position. As you become a Cup driver, is that part of the challenge, realizing how much do you share and how all that works?

 

TY GIBBS: Yeah, first off, I feel like, for me, the biggest thing is all of the stuff I say comes from the heart; and if there’s stuff that needs to be brought up, that needs to be said that I don’t agree with, sometimes I won’t agree with and won’t say it.

 

Personally I just want to say that all the stuff I say is from my heart. There’s definitely guidance; I’m 20 years old in front of millions of people that I’m getting interviewed by, and people can take that and use it as completely different way what I was trying to say.

 

There’s a lot of that, but it just comes with learning and comes from growing up and maturing and having time and learning how to handle all you guys. You guys do a good job.

 

  1. You talked about maybe having another Monster then heading to bed with the Cup race tomorrow. How do you plan to actually celebrate this championship? And when will you allow yourself to really process what happened and what you did?

 

TY GIBBS: For sure, at the end of the day, like I said, celebrating isn’t going to help me win a race tomorrow or do a great job tomorrow. We’ll put that behind me. And I’m not here to celebrate; I’m here to win races. That comes along the way with it.

 

I have a great car, great Monster Energy 23 Jumpman Camry TRD tomorrow. It’s a lot of words, guys. It’s a lot of words. I’m very excited to go tomorrow and to go race, and we’ll figure that one out next week.

 

  1. What do you think about the bling? You keep playing with it.

 

TY GIBBS: It’s tight on my finger right now, and it’s kind of — my hand is kind of sticky, too, from the Monster, so I’m trying to loosen it up enough to where I feel comfortable. This is my first ring ever. Looks good, though.

 

  1. Are you digging it?

TY GIBBS: Oh, yeah, all of it. Now I can give people knuckles and it hurts them, not me. We’ve all been through that.

THE MODERATOR: Ty, congratulations on the championship. Outstanding season.

TY GIBBS: Thanks, guys. Thanks all year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 


Saturday Phoenix Notebook

 

Notebook Items:

  • JR Motorsport's drivers proud of their season despite not winning the title
  • Austin Hill wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

 

November 5, 2022

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

JR Motorsport's drivers proud of their season despite not winning the title

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Noah Gragson drove his car onto pit road following Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series championship finale, climbed out, slammed his helmet on the roof, put his hands on his hips and look downward in disappointment.

 

After a valiant battle – all 200 laps of the race at Phoenix Raceway - he finished runner-up to season-long rival Ty Gibbs - a mere .397-seconds away from the title capping a career-defining season of triumph and statistical career highlights.

 

It hurt. But Gragson remained buoyed by his career-best effort in NASCAR’s spotlight.

 

“Execution on pit stops, we just needed to be better as a Bass Pro Shops team, but still proud of everyone’s efforts," Gragson said as his team surrounded his car and offered up pats-on-the-back and encouragement.

 

Moments later, he walked over on pit road and gave Gibbs a handshake – a major sign of respect considering the intense and fierce relationship between the two rivals, who raced so hard for the championship.

 

“They did a good job, they beat us,” the 24-year-old Gragson said of the gesture, adding, “I think he has the potential to learn. He’s a great race car driver and I’ve been in those shoes too.”

 

From the outside, this championship battle actually looked like a lop-sided advantage for Gragson’s JR Motorsports team, which fielded cars for three of the four title-eligible drivers. Veteran Justin Allgaier finished third, just behind Gragson and their teammate Josh Berry was 13th.

 

For much of the race the foursome – Gibbs, Gragson, Allgaier and Berry – were some combination of 1-2-3-4 on the racetrack, the truest of championship battles.

 

“I don’t know why we end up one, two, three, four in these races, if you look at the history of this race – whether it be here or [past Championship 4 site] Homestead (Fla.) whatever, the final four rise to the top and we were all racing our guts out," Allgaier said.

 

“It’s not that anybody lets you go. Maybe I look at it differently, but it was cool having us all four up there battling, obviously I know Josh had that one issue on a restart, but it was cool having us all up there battling and having it as clean as it was tonight."

 

"The hardest part is that no one from JR Motorsports went to Victory Lane," he added. “I wanted it for everybody that works there. … we just got beat. But proud of everyone’s efforts all week long.”

 

With his runner-up effort Gragson finished the season with eight wins, 21 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in 33 races, leading more than 1,000 laps. He will drive the No. 42 Petty GMS Chevrolet next year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

“I can lay my head down after restarting eighth with 25-30 to go and getting up to second and almost having a shot to win the race, I’m content with that," Gragson said, adding, “I gave my absolute best, I drove my butt off, I tried my best and gave it everything I had, just got beat. Can’t really hang my head after the season we’ve had.”

 

Allgaier’s third-place finish in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was his 15th top-five and 23rd top-10 finish of the year. He won three races. Berry, was also a three-time winner in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, earning 11 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in his first complete season in the series.

 

Austin Hill wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

 

Austin Hill has won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year title – earning a pair of victories in his first season driving the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

 

Hill, 28, of Winston, Ga., had an especially strong first full season in the series; winning the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and then again at his home track in Atlanta this summer- the only rookie to win a race in 2022.

 

He scored a ninth-place finish in the Phoenix finale and wraps up the rookie title with 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.

 

Hill’s RCR teammate Sheldon Creed finished second in the rookie points, followed by Kyle Sieg and Jesse Iwuji.

 

saturday Notebook Items:

  • Joey Logano wins pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Championship race
  • Alex Bowman returns to action in season finale
  • Crew chiefs bring calm, straightforward mind-sets to title race

 

November 5, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer and Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Joey Logano wins pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Championship race

 

Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Joey Logano took the first step toward a second NASCAR Cup Series championship on Saturday afternoon by winning the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Logano navigated the one-mile Phoenix Raceway in 26.788 seconds (134.389 mph) in the final round of time trials to edge Team Penske teammate and non-Playoff driver Ryan Blaney (134.373 mph) by .003 seconds for the top starting spot in the event that will crown the 2022 series champion.

 

“That’s the goal,” Logano said. “It keeps the pressure on the competition.”

 

But Logano didn’t think he had a pole-winning lap when he ran it.

 

“No, because it went slower than the run before (in the opening round),” he said. “It seemed like tire falloff was a real thing. I kind of got done with my lap and was like, ‘Eh.’ I thought it was going to be like third or fourth probably, just not as good as what it was the first run.  

 

“I overcompensated some of the adjustments I wanted to make as a driver and probably didn’t adjust the car enough as much as we needed to for some other things, but I guess everybody’s tires fell off, and that was a better lap than I thought it was.” 

 

With Ford drivers sweeping the top three positions on the grid, Chase Briscoe qualified third at 134.203 mph, followed by Kyle Larson (133.844 mph), whose No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is eligible for the owners’ championship but not the drivers’ title.

 

Championship 4 driver Chase Elliott (133.437 mph) will start fifth. Like Logano, Elliott is seeking a second Cup Series title.

 

“The narrative is there for the writing, and it’s our job to make sure it goes our way,” said Elliott, who hasn’t been at his best in the Playoffs so far. 

 

Non-Playoff drivers Harrison Burton, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Cole Custer and Ty Gibbs will start from positions six through 10, respectively.

 

The two drivers who advanced to the Championship 4 with eleventh-hour heroics last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway—race winner Christopher Bell and rim rider Ross Chastain—will start at a disadvantage on Sunday after failing to make the final round.

 

Bell will start 17th and Chastain 25th in Sunday’s title race.

 

“I was too loose on the throttle,” said Chastain, who was fastest in Friday’s practice but out of balance in qualifying trim. “It’s a great thing for (Sunday) but not good right now.”

 

Alex Bowman returns to action in season finale

 

Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman is back behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet this week after missing five NASCAR Cup Series races while recovering from concussion-type symptoms.

 

Bowman, a native of nearby Tucson, Arizona was adamant that he wanted to return to competition this year rather than wait until the start of the 2023 season. He was injured in an accident during the Texas Motor Speedway race on Sept. 25 – and following doctors’ orders, sat out the next five races.

 

Bowman had been ranked 10th heading into Texas – qualifying for the Playoffs with a victory at Las Vegas in March. Noah Gragson filled in for Bowman with a best showing of 11th at Las Vegas in October.

 

“There’s a lot of really smart people at HMS that evaluated everything and tried to make everything the best it can be," said Bowman, who qualified 24th for Sunday’s race.

 

“I think having a goal to come back this year kept me working really hard and really accountable for what I was doing. I think if we would had said, ‘We’re going to take the rest of the year off,’ it would have been way easier to just sit back on my butt and not work as hard.”

 

And while Sunday represents a true “homecoming” of sorts – both in his native Arizona and in the car – it is a farewell to his crew chief Greg Ives, who will step away from the demanding travel schedule at the end of the season and instead work for Hendrick Motorsports based out of the shop.

 

“Obviously, a lot of motivation to come back with Greg," Bowman said. “Definitely a lot of different emotions. We’re obviously caught up trying to run the best we can. Just trying to enjoy it. I’m really happy for him and the next step in his career. Just happy to be back with him (this weekend).”

 

Crew chiefs bring calm, straightforward mind-sets to title race

 

The four championship-eligible NASCAR Cup Series crew chiefs spoke with the media on Friday: for the most part presenting a very calm decisive air.

 

Of the four, Phil Surgen, crew chief on the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet driven by Ross Chastain, will be making his crew chief debut in the Championship 4, although he has worked as an engineer on a championship-eligible car before.

 

“It’s exciting, obviously we work our whole lives, careers to be here," said Surgen, whose No. 1 Chevrolet was quickest in Friday’s one and only NASCAR Cup Series practice but qualified 25th for the race – slowest among the Championship 4.

 

“Try to treat it as any other race weekend. For us, all the goals are the same, we want to show up, be the fastest, win the race. In that regard, it’s very similar to every other week."

 

The other three crew chiefs – Paul Wolfe (Joey Logano), Alan Gustafson (Chase Elliott) and Adam Stevens (Christopher Bell) – have not only competed in the Championship 4 Round previously but have all won NASCAR Cup Series championships.

 

Wolfe, who won a championship trophy in 2012 with then-Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, comes in with the most opportunity to prepare for Phoenix since Logano was the first Championship 4 qualifier. And it was rewarded. Logano won the pole position for the race on Friday and will lead the field to green.

 

“Obviously, we have had a lot of time," Wolfe said. “We’ve tried to make the most of that. As you know, seems like there’s never enough time in the day when you’re preparing for any race. The extra couple weeks was nice.

 

“We had a good plan. I think Team Penske as a whole and I was very pleased with how our teammates stepped up and were able to help us and work together."

 


Zane Smith gets breakthrough NASCAR Truck Series title in wild overtime shootout

Getty Images

November 4, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – After two frustrating runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, Zane Smith finally won his first title in a two-lap overtime shootout.

 

Holding off defending champion Ben Rhodes by .236 seconds at the end of a wild final two laps of Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150, Smith put it succinctly after a celebratory burnout at Phoenix Raceway.

 

“The third time’s the charm,” exulted an emotional Smith, who said he was crying throughout the final lap after wresting the lead from Rhodes one circuit earlier. 

 

For the final restart, Smith chose to line up behind Rhodes, rather than to his outside. That enabled Smith to shortcut the backstretch dogleg and pull even with Rhodes to the inside. From that position he was able to edge ahead of eventual third-place finisher Chandler Smith to the outside.

 

“I’m going to win this,” Zane Smith said of his mind-set in overtime. “There was no other option. I was either backing it in the fence wrecking, or I was leaving tonight with a championship trophy. There were no other options, and when I saw the 18 (Chandler Smith) get underneath me I was worried that I got him too loose underneath me.  

 

“Fortunately, he stayed off of me. I have a lot of respect for all three of (the other title competitors). It’s pretty impressive for some of the racing we’ve seen lately for us three to go at it that hard and that clean.”

 

Under caution for Hailie Deegan’s hard contact with the Turn 3 wall on Lap 134, Rhodes opted for right-side tires only, while the other three Championship 4 drivers—Zane Smith, Chandler Smith and Ty Majeski—took fresh rubber on all four corners.

 

Rhodes restarted third behind Stewart Friesen and Carson Hocevar on Lap 141 and charged past Friesen into the lead on Lap 144. Rhodes stayed out front with the other Championship 4 drivers in tow until Majeski lost control of his No. 66 Toyota as he tried to move to the inside of Zane Smith.

 

The subsequent overtime restart enabled the race winner to capitalize on his tire advantage. Rhodes got to Zane Smith’s bumper in the final corner and crossed the finish line less than a truck-length behind. Chandler Smith was third, .259 seconds back of the winner.

 

“I don’t know, two tires versus four, that was the name of the game,” Rhodes said. “We didn’t have the pace all night that we needed to be up there and repeat so it was a great heads-up call by my crew chief (Rich Lushes). Ultimately, we just didn’t need that last caution. I think we could have held them off for the final few laps. I was giving him (Zane Smith) all the dirty air he could handle. I think we were going to be fine until that caution got us. 

 

“On that last restart, I tried to get a jump, but two tires versus four, I just didn’t have the grip I needed. I did the best I could and threw a move on him but didn’t have enough grip to make it stick… We just need to go back and do our homework, and second is not fun. I’m going to mope my way back to Kentucky (his home state).”

 

The victory was Smith’s fourth of the season, and it was a clean sweep. Smith earned the pole position in Friday’s time trials and won both stages before claiming the victory and the series title.

 

He’ll return to Front Row Motorsports next season, where he’ll defend his championship and compete in selected NASCAR Cup Series races, starting with the Daytona 500.

 

John Hunter Nemechek ran fourth on Friday night, followed by Friesen. Majeski came home 20th after the spin that sent the race into overtime.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race - 28th Annual Lucas Oil 150

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Friday, November 4, 2022

 

                1. (1)  Zane Smith (P), Ford, 154.

                2. (6)  Ben Rhodes (P), Toyota, 154.

                3. (12)  Chandler Smith (P), Toyota, 154.

                4. (10)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 154.

                5. (5)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 154.

                6. (13)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 154.

                7. (3)  Corey Heim #, Toyota, 154.

                8. (4)  Tanner Gray, Ford, 154.

                9. (15)  Kaden Honeycutt, Toyota, 154.

                10. (22)  Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 154.

                11. (23)  Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 154.

                12. (9)  Matt Crafton, Toyota, 154.

                13. (2)  Layne Riggs, Toyota, 154.

                14. (24)  Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 154.

                15. (20)  Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 154.

                16. (17)  Jake Garcia, Chevrolet, 154.

                17. (21)  Taylor Gray, Ford, 154.

                18. (32)  Lawless Alan #, Chevrolet, 154.

                19. (19)  Chase Purdy, Toyota, 154.

                20. (8)  Ty Majeski (P), Toyota, 154.

                21. (26)  Dean Thompson #, Chevrolet, 154.

                22. (11)  Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 153.

                23. (31)  Tyler Hill, Toyota, 152.

                24. (30)  Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 152.

                25. (25)  Blaine Perkins #, Chevrolet, 152.

                26. (28)  Chris Hacker, Toyota, 152.

                27. (29)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 152.

                28. (27)  Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 152.

                29. (16)  Jack Wood #, Chevrolet, 151.

                30. (7)  Christian Eckes, Toyota, 151.

                31. (14)  Hailie Deegan, Ford, Accident, 133.

                32. (18)  Rajah Caruth, Chevrolet, Accident, 106.

                33. (33)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, Too Slow, 63.

                34. (34)  Keith McGee, Chevrolet, DVP, 15.

                35. (35)  Armani Williams, Chevrolet, Accident, 6.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  89.003 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 43 Mins, 49 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.236 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Z. Smith (P) 1;L. Riggs 2-6;Z. Smith (P) 7-48;J. Nemechek 49;C. Heim # 50-54;J. Nemechek 55-86;Z. Smith (P) 87-93;J. Nemechek 94-97;C. Smith (P) 98-105;J. Nemechek 106-111;Z. Smith (P) 112-136;J. Nemechek 137;S. Friesen 138-143;B. Rhodes (P) 144-151;C. Smith (P) 152;Z. Smith (P) 153-154.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Zane Smith (P) 5 times for 77 laps; John Hunter Nemechek 5 times for 44 laps; Chandler Smith (P) 2 times for 9 laps; Ben Rhodes (P) 1 time for 8 laps; Stewart Friesen 1 time for 6 laps; Layne Riggs 1 time for 5 laps; Corey Heim # 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 38,51,52,4,88,99,23,18,98,62

Stage #2 Top Ten: 38,4,18,51,66,88,23,52,17,99

 

--30--

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion driver, and that is Zane Smith. Congratulations on the run.

 

  1. Were you just not going to be denied? Another runner-up finish probably you would have been apoplectic after that. Were you not going to be denied at the end?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, I knew our night had gone too smooth at times and we struggled bad on pit road and I went from dominating the race, being the first seed, to restarting 11th with 11 to go as the fourth seed.

 

I wasn’t going to — Bob Jenkins was going to get a wrecked chuck or a championship trophy at the end of the day. I was not going to lose another one.

 

It’s scarred me too bad, and yeah, probably the craziest finish I’ve ever been a part of and obviously the biggest win I’ve ever had. But just so proud of everyone.

 

  1. The four-wide move you found yourself in, four-wide bottom, was there ever a doubt that that was going to work out in your favor?

 

ZANE SMITH: I have no idea when that was. Was that with like five to go? How many was that to go? 10 to go, oh, man. Yeah, a lot happened that I don’t even know.

 

Yeah, I think I was underneath Chandler at that time, and we were dooring each other, and we were nose to nose and both of us obviously weren’t going to lift.

 

I mean, I have said it in a few other interviews but I just want to give a shout-out to the other three. We had every opportunity to wreck each other, and we battled hard, hit each other, but didn’t wreck each other. We were fighting for a championship, so a lot of respect goes out to them.

 

I don’t know if it was an exciting finish, but I about had a heart attack at the line.

 

  1. With Ben behind you, he drove you pretty hard, but he didn’t wreck you. How nervous were you going into that final corner knowing that Ben was going to take some kind of shot?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, pretty nervous. I talked to my spot tore, he said that he was on my bumper from the time I turned off the wall, but I really didn’t feel him until about center of the corner. Then I started getting really loose and I was so worried he was going to — it was an Xfinity finish from last year do-over.

 

I got really loose and then really tight and then I heard the screaming of my spotter which I knew we had it, and I’m just now getting my voice back.

 

I was just wondering if you had a chance to speak to Bob Jenkins yet and what that conversation was like?

 

ZANE SMITH: I have not. Unfortunately Bob isn’t here tonight, but I can assure you I probably have a phone call from him. I haven’t been able to check my phone. It’s been the busiest Victory Lane celebration I’ve ever been a part of.

 

It’s been so cool to celebrate it with family, friends, just on the West Coast in general. Yeah, I just truly can’t believe the night we’ve had.

 

  1. A year ago you had the runner-up finish in the championship. Your future was kind of up in the air. How is it now sitting there the champion, bright future ahead?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, definitely a lot has changed. I have literally stood in this parking lot three years in a row not knowing what I’m going to be doing next year. I knew going into this, because I’ve been through way worse times, and regardless of outcome tonight, I’m going to have a job next year, and that’s such a weight off your shoulders.

 

With him giving me that confidence, I wanted to reward him with a championship, and I felt like that’s why — I don’t want to say I raced so much harder, but I just couldn’t lose another one. It just wasn’t an option.

 

Yeah, just crazy where I’m at mentally and how great things are going in my life right now. I’m just trying to ride it as long as I can.

 

  1. You talked about that mentality; is there one moment you can kind of pinpoint as a turning point for you? Obviously I know the heartbreak of finishing second the last couple years, but getting behind the wheel of this 38 truck, is there one thing that you’d noticed clicked differently for you this year? Is there a moment that stands out?

 

ZANE SMITH: I mean, probably just overall like team morale. Like I had a great relationship with my past team at GMS, but I don’t want to call them old, but it was an older group, and the group that I have now is just younger, and I feel like we weren’t always hanging out at the shop. We were also hanging out outside of work.

 

I just think that goes a really long way. Me and Chris Lawson have a really good relationship, and he’s a past racer himself. We clicked right away. Then my engineer Dylan Cappello, we grew up racing together since I was about 12 years old. He’s from out here, and we spend every Monday together in sim.

 

It’s just that same deal; he’s a past racer himself and still races some when he can.

 

I just feel like the communication is there a lot quicker than most.

 

  1. Does a driver who wants to be in the Cup Series and wants to win races in the Cup Series have to win races like this?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, I mean, I think so. I’ve literally watched it. I went from my very first year in trucks to winning a couple races in my rookie season, getting possibly an opportunity at a Cup car, and I thought that was crazy.

 

Then last year, I felt like we were really fast but struggled bad on execution. I felt like everything happened to us that year, and we still were able to advance into the Final Four with winning at Martinsville.

 

But I feel like this year, winning at Daytona and then a few more wins right after that and then how the format is now, it’s like if you get into the Final Four, we all have the same mentality of man, this is a championship of our own, and whoever is the best of us four is the champion.

 

It’s just really hard to get here in the first place, and then to execute on this day is to a whole other level, and I don’t think we could have executed any better.

 

  1. On the FOX broadcast they mentioned you sent out 120 voicemails at the end of last year and Front Row was the only one that called you back. That kind of caught me off guard. Is that true? And if so, how did that really motivate you to deliver for them this year?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, that’s actually — I guess a lot of that story is true, but there’s more details. It’s a long story.

 

I had obviously lost the championship with eight laps to go last year, and Front Row was not one of the places that I called. I didn’t even think there was an opportunity.

 

I had a ride pretty much set up, and I was excited about it, but it was literally about 30 minutes later after, yeah, after these 120 phone calls probably in the past couple days. I had gotten a call from Front Row Motorsports that they wanted me to run their truck. That really caught my eye because I knew the people that were on the truck, and the people are what makes these things go fast.

 

I just recognized their work ethic and how bad they wanted it, and I wanted it really bad, also, especially for my past couple years of losing this.

 

Yeah, long story short, we’re in Phoenix celebrating a championship.

 

  1. Along those lines, we had the other Championship 4 guys in here, and Chandler Smith came out and said, 38 were pretty much the most deserving team all year. All three pretty much agreed that you guys were one of the strongest teams. Can you talk about the camaraderie in the series and the respect the other drivers are showing you?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, big time. I touched on it some how hard we raced, all four of us, not only for a win but for a championship together and we didn’t wreck each other.

 

But yeah, I mean, I have a ton of respect for them.

 

I knew going into this tonight, you were probably going to have to win the race to win the championship just with how strong the 18 was on short tracks especially, and the 66 with how much momentum he’s had, and then the 99 seems to always be there, as well.

 

It was a tough Final Four, but ultimately we had the best group and came out on top.

 

  1. You talked about how you wanted to bring the organization the championship, but also for Ford, how special is it to do it under those circumstances, to get that title for them in the Truck Series?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, pretty special. Obviously Ford doesn’t have many trucks out there, and I knew going into tonight that it was me versus Toyota.

 

I don’t know, it made me want to get them a championship that much more.

 

There was times throughout the race of, yeah, it was difficult when I was boxed in by KBM pretty much for the first half and then was able to get in clean air and kind of control that.

 

  1. Being a young man from the West Coast, how gratifying is it just to bring one home considering California drivers have been able to accomplish many great things on a national level.

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, I mean, when I found out that Phoenix was going to be the new Homestead, I was pretty excited about that, just because I’ve liked Phoenix since the get-go. I really like Homestead, too, but this is as close to home as I get, so it’s so cool having family, friends, old sponsors that are family, just all of them here.

 

Since I was a little kid, this is what our goal was, was man, maybe one day if everything is right, we’ll be able to go chase wins in the Truck Series, or I don’t even know if that was realistic then, any top 3 series in NASCAR, and many, many times it seemed so — this ain’t happening.

 

We just never gave up, and they probably believed in me more than I believed in myself a lot of times.

 

I’m just really happy I proved them right.

 

  1. The last time we had a Truck Series champion celebration here, it was much less subdued. You mentioned you’re going to have a celebration; what is that going to look like?

 

ZANE SMITH: Yeah, it takes more than like two Bud Lights to get me drunk. (Laughter.)

 

  1. You mentioned all the people that have helped get you to this point. It’s kind of a small part of your career, but Gary Crooks, and I’m curious, moving over to North Carolina and Mooresville and racing with Gary, what role did he play in getting you acclimated to stock car racing at this level?

 

ZANE SMITH: So much. I occasionally text Tony and a couple guys that were on that group. I still look back to those days like oh, my God, those were the most fun days of my life when we would go down to Speedweeks and get a house together and just go racing. It was so much fun.

 

Yeah, Gary taught me so much. I do have some super late model races that I want to go do next year. I don’t know for who yet, possibly Gary. I don’t know what he has available.

 

Yeah, I miss that whole atmosphere a lot. I was talking to actually Chandler some during media day, and he was telling me how just different the super late model world is of how hard you can run now. I’m really interested in it. Yeah, trying to put some stuff together for next year.

 

THE MODERATOR: Zane, congratulations on the championship and enjoy the off-season.

 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 


 

Friday Phoenix Notebook

 

Notebook Items:

  • Defending series champion Ben Rhodes came up just short
  • Corey Heim wins Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors
  • Ross Chastain was fastest in Cup practice at Phoenix
  • Kyle Larson is chasing the owner’s title
  • Kyle Busch Motorsports announces 2023 plans

 

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Defending series champion Ben Rhodes came up just short

 

AVONDALE, Ariz. – It was a valiant overtime effort that “just missed” for defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes, who battled Zane Smith all the way to the checkered flag of the overtime finish for the title race Friday night at Phoenix Raceway. He ultimately missed out becoming only the series’ second back-to-back champion by a mere .236-second.

 

Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing team opted for two tires during a pit stop with 10 laps remaining – the only driver among the Championship-eligible foursome to gamble on the two-tire stop. It put his No. 99 ThorSport Toyota out front; but the other three title contenders returned to the track with four fresh tires.

 

After the restart, the four championship-eligible drivers – Rhodes, Zane Smith, Ty Majeski and Chandler Smith pulled away to lead the field and settle the trophy amongst themselves. And Rhodes gamble looked as if it just may pay off. But as he pulled out to a nearly 2-second advantage on the field, Majeski got loose battling hard just behind Zane Smith bringing the final caution came out and forcing overtime.

 

“If the caution never came out, I honest to goodness think we could have won," Rhodes said, noting that with only two new tires compared to his championship competition he essentially became a sitting duck on the final restart

 

“I’m thankful for those calls I just wish it could have worked out differently," said Rhodes, who led eight laps and explained he purposely banged the car off the wall on the final lap hoping to make something happen.

 

“But that’s just the story of two (tires) versus four."

 

Front Row Motorsports’ Zane Smith – who has finished runner-up in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the past two seasons – earned his first championship with Rhodes runner-up, Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Chandler Smith third and Majeski 20th after his late-race spin.

 

All three of the non-winning championship contenders gave huge dues to Zane Smith’s team. Smith won the pole position for the race and led a race best 77 of the 154 laps. No one begrudged his title run.

 

“He was the best truck tonight and probably the best truck all year," Majeski said of Zane Smith.

 

Chandler Smith agreed.

 

“They were in their own zip code, really all year," Smith said. “To be honest with you, they may have been the most deserving of any of us."

 

“It’s really disappointing but I can’t be too upset in only my second fulltime season having a shot at it. It just wasn’t meant to be."

 

Rhodes finishes out the season ranked second in the championship, officially five points behind Zane Smith. Chandler Smith – who moves into the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing next year, closes out his Truck Series career with a third-place championship finish, six points back. Majeski is fourth, 23 points back.

 

Rhodes, 25, answered his 2021 championship season with a victory on the Bristol Dirt Track, eight Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes.

 

It was a break-out year for both Chandler Smith, 20, and Majeski.  Smith earned a career high three wins, eight Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes in the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. And Majeski, 28,took his first two career series trophies in the No. 66 ThorSport Toyota – with wins in Playoff races in Bristol, Tenn. and Homestead, Fla.

 

Corey Heim wins Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors

 

Kyle Busch Motorsport's driver Corey Heim’s seventh-place finish Friday night at Phoenix Raceway capped an impressive Sunoco Rookie of the Year run. The 20-year-old Georgia driver finished 211 points ahead of Lawless Alan for the rookie title.

 

Just for good measure, the part-time driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota finished out the season with a seven-place finish, leading five laps on the night.

 

It was the exclamation point on a highly-impressive debut in the series that included a pair of victories – at Atlanta and then from the pole position at Gateway (Ill.). In only 16 starts this season he posted 10 top-10 and six top-five finishes.

 

Next season Heim will move to the TRICON Garage team – formerly known as Team DGR – driving the No. 11 Toyota Tundra fulltime as a championship entry.

 

Chastain was fastest in Cup practice at Phoenix

 

NASCAR Cup Series championship contender Ross Chastain was fastest in Friday’s lone practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Championship Race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Chastain’s No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet turned a lap of 133.239 mph to pace the field in the 50-minute session.

 

Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford and Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota were next fastest with Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick rounding out the top five.

 

Team Penske’s Joey Logano was second fastest among the four championship eligible drivers, turning in the seventh quickest lap in his No. 22 Ford. Chase Elliott, who won the series championship at Phoenix two years ago, was 10th quickest in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

 

Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, was 20th quickest.

 

Kyle Larson is chasing the owner’s title

 

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson did not qualify for an opportunity to defend his driver’s title in Sunday’s NASCAR Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway – but he will still be racing for the owner’s trophy.

 

With his victory at Homestead, Fla. in the penultimate round of the Playoffs – and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott not winning a race during that three-race final push; Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet is owner’s title eligible, while Elliott competes for the driver’s championship.

 

“I honestly don’t view it any differently," Larson said. "I come here with a much focus as I did last season when racing for both championships. Maybe if I hadn’t won last year and didn’t have a championship under my belt already, then I’d come in here with a different mindset. But knowing that I have that on my resume already, it allows me not to be careless with the weekend.

 

“We’re extremely focused and would love to win that Owner’s Championship for Rick (Hendrick) and bring that big paycheck home too."

 

Larson led 107 of 312 laps to win at Phoenix from pole position in last year’s Championship Race- securing his first series title. An engine problem this March relegated him to a 34th-place finish – snapping a six-race streak of top-10 finishes at the one-mile track.

 

Kyle Busch Motorsports announces 2023 plans

 

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch formally announced the 2023 plans for his Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series team. With Busch moving to Chevrolet power with Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series next year, so too will his truck operation move to Chevrolet.

 

On Friday, Busch introduced Chase Purdy as the driver of the No. 4 KBM Chevrolet next season and Jack Wood who will steer the No. 51 Chevrolet for 10 races -sharing the seat with Busch and a handful of other – yet to be named – Xfinity and NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

 

Busch’s team will also maintain a technical alliance with Rev Racing, which announced its first fulltime foray into the Truck Series. With KBM’s technical assistance the Rev Racing team will enter newly-crowned ARCA Menards Series champion Nick Sanchez in the No. 2 Chevrolet next season.


NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Media Day Notebook

 

Notebook Items:

  • Chastain still can't believe he pulled-off the move at Martinsville
  • Chase Elliott has high expectations for Phoenix
  • For Joey Logano, nothing short of a championship will do
  • Entering championship race, Christopher Bell is OK with relative obscurity

 

November 3, 2022

 

By Holly Cain and Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Chastain still can't believe he pulled-off the move at Martinsville

 

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Ross Chastain has spent much of his young career overcoming obstacles and exceeding expectations.

 

However, the 29-year-old Floridian’s singular clutch move to qualify for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Phoenix Raceway wasn’t even an expectation, it was a once-an-era moment that will undoubtedly go down in NASCAR lore. And Chastain himself, still can’t help but smile when he talks about it.

 

His last lap, last-ditch effort to make his first title field is one of the most talked-about, tweeted-about, replayed moves in recent history. With less than one lap to go at the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last Sunday, he purposely slammed his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet hard into the outside wall, floored the gas and “walled” his way from the 10th position to finish fifth place – enough to secure the final Playoff transfer into Sunday’s Championship Race.

 

This week Chastain said he’s heard from people he hasn’t talked to in years, or ever before. His phone is full of voicemails, and he counted a thousand text messages. Team co-owner, Grammy Award-winning superstar Pitbull called too.

 

“He checks in, more than just for the wins and good races," Chastain said of Pitbull. “He loves it that we’re up against some real giants in the sports and we keep fighting and we keep winning. Not that we won the race in Martinsville, but we won the moment to transfer, and he was really excited."

 

Chastain said he has looked back at the video and still cannot explain the physics of his move, “what happened, why that car did not slow down, why it kept air in the tires," - how he made it to the finish line and actually set a new track record.

 

“Why it worked, I don’t know, but I have no ideas, no plans to ever do that again because it was not pleasant," he said.

 

“I’m proud of it, I’m proud we’ve moved the needle for fans and casual people that were not fans and now they want to experience NASCAR and come to track and feel that roar that thunder when we go by," Chastain said, noting how members from other teams came out to congratulate him and give him back slaps when came down pit road after the race.

 

Chastain is optimistic about his title hopes this weekend. His best finish in eight starts is a runner-up showing this Spring. He is having a breakout year with the second year old Trackhouse organization scoring his first two career NASCAR Cup Series wins (at Circuit of The Americas and Talladega-1). He has a career high 20 top-10 finishes and led a career high 692 laps.

 

Chase Elliott has high expectations for Phoenix

 

Chase Elliott refused to select a favorite from among his Championship 4 colleagues during Thursday’s NASCAR Media Day press conference, insisting that after a 35-race season to date if you qualified for this weekend’s Championship Race. You could be the champion.

 

Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will compete against Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and Team Penske’s Joey Logano for the season trophy Sunday. Both Elliott and Logano are racing for their second championship. Both Chastain and Bell are making their Championship 4 debut this weekend.

 

Elliott has a strong record at Phoenix – winning the 2020 title race from pole position to claim his first championship. He has scored eight top-10s in 13 starts and led 546 laps at the one-mile track. He comes into the championship finale with only a pair of top-10 finishes in the nine Playoff races – a win at Talladega, Ala. and a runner-up at Bristol, Tenn.

 

“Personally, being a part of it the last couple years and as this format has kind of progressed and changed, I think if you make it to that last race, I think you have a shot," Elliott said. “If you’re in the Final Four, I think you have a chance.

 

“We’ve seen this, you don’t have to dominate all day to win [the title] . …  What Jimmie did in 2016 is a great example of not necessarily being the best car all day but when it came time to execute at the end of the day, put together some good restarts, some good pit stops and make it happen, they did.

 

“Our Playoffs hasn’t been great but with this format, it really doesn’t matter now. If you’re part of the show, you’re part of the show. And if you have a shot this weekend, you have a shot to change the narrative and write the end of the story however you want."

 

Both Logano (Las Vegas) and Bell (Martinsville, Va.) won races in the Playoffs' Round of 8 to earn their title opportunity. Elliott and Chastain “pointed” their way into championship contention.

 

In a rather unusual twist, the Hendrick Motorsports team could capture both the driver and team championship but with different drivers. Elliott is racing for the driver’s title and Kyle Larson qualified the team’s No. 5 Chevrolet for the team owner’s championship.

 

“The best thing that could happen is one of us wins the race and the other runs second and you can check both boxes and we all go home happy,’’ Elliott said. “That would be choice number one for me, and I think that’s feasible.”

 

For Joey Logano, nothing short of a championship will do

 

To say Joey Logano is optimistic about the way circumstances have played out over the past three weeks would be a massive understatement.

 

First of all, Logano won the first race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 8 on Oct. 16 at Las Vegas. The certainty of advancement to the Championship 4 has given his No. 22 Team Penske team the luxury of extra time to prepare for Sunday’s title race at Phoenix.

 

At 32, Logano is the oldest of the four Championship 4 drivers. With 14 full seasons in the Cup Series and 506 races under his belt, he is by far the most experienced. He and Chase Elliott are the only two drivers vying for the title who already have won a championship.

 

For Logano, it’s an opportunity not to waste.

 

“I feel like we’re in a great spot right now,” Logano said on Thursday during Championship 4 Media Day interviews at the Phoenix Convention Center. “I feel like our team is in a great spot for a lot of reasons. For one, we’re not happy to be here. We’re not just happy to be in the Championship 4. This isn’t enough for us. 

 

“I feel like that’s the number one driver for the 22 team to win this thing. I think with that mentality and the three weeks that we’ve had since Vegas to really focus in here, it’s going to give us a huge advantage to not only have a good practice plan and set our car up, but also execute this race correctly, on top of the experience we’ve got.

 

“I’ve never felt more solid in this position than I do right now. With that said, I’m ready to go racing and get out there, because we feel prepared. We’re ready to go to battle.”

 

Entering championship race, Christopher Bell is OK with relative obscurity

 

Given the dramatic way Christopher Bell has advanced to the Championship 4, it might seem strange that the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota thinks of himself as completely under the radar.

 

In a win-or-bust situation at the Charlotte ROVAL on Oct. 9, Bell took advantage of a late caution, won the race and catapulted into the Round of 8.

 

After suffering two flat tires a week later at Texas and finishing 11th a week later at Homestead-Miami, Bell once again needed a victory to keep his championship hopes alive. He took control of the Round of 8 elimination race shortly after the halfway point and triumphed once again.

 

Bell comes to Phoenix with crew chief Adam Stevens on his pit box. Stevens is the only active crew chief in the Cup garage with more than one championship, having won titles with Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2019.

 

But Bell thinks Stevens may be overlooked this season—because of his driver. 

 

“I think that maybe has a lot to do with my role,” Bell said. “Nobody really realizes I drive race cars for a living, for the most part. I embrace that role. I guess I don’t do anything else to advocate myself or anything like that.

 

“Any time it seems like people are teamed up with me, they’re off the radar.”

 

Bell says he doesn’t mind the perceived anonymity.

 

“It’s just kind of the way it’s unfolded over my… I don’t really know how long," he said. "That’s fine by me. Maybe I’ll be the least famous Cup champion one day.” 


 

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Sunday, November 6

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $10,542,284

TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Saturday, November 5

The Time: 6 p.m. ET

The Purse: $1,645,625

TV: USA, 5:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Lucas Oil 150

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Friday, November 4

The Time: 10 p.m. ET

The Purse: $817,025

TV: FS1, 9 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                   

Distance: 150 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

All the hard work put in to get to this point culminates this weekend as the Championship 4 contenders vie for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series title in the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

 

Team Penske’s Joey Logano secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round early, winning the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but for the other three drivers it came down to last weekend’s elimination race at Martinsville Speedway and the battle for the final spots didn’t disappoint. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, again this season, pulled off a ‘walk-off’ win facing elimination heading into Martinsville. Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2022 Regular Season Champion Chase Elliott finished 11th last Sunday and earned his position in the Champ 4 on points. And Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain pulled-off an unbelievable video game-type move, that some have deemed as the ‘Martinsville Miracle’ as he went wide-open along the outside wall in Turns 3 and 4 passing enough cars to earn the fourth and final spot on points in this season’s Championship 4. Now the stage is set for the Championship 4 drivers to contend for the title, and the prestigious Bill France Cup trophy, which will be awarded to the highest finishing driver of the four at Phoenix Raceway. Two of the four drivers are former champions – Logano (2018) and Elliott (2020) - with Bell and Chastain looking for their first Cup titles this season.

 

Here’s an in-depth look at the championship contenders heading into this action-packed Championship Week in Phoenix: (Listed in Alphabetical Order)

 

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

 

Bell By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round (2022).

2 – Number of career top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins during the 2022 season.

4 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series career total wins.

4 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season.

8.2 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

9.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway.

9.9 – Average starting position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

12 – Number of top-five finishes during the 2022 season.

12.2 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

13.9 – Average finishing position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

17.0 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway. 

18 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022.

19 – Number of top-10 finishes during the 2022 season.

76.1 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway, third-best among Championship 4.

91.2 – Season-to-date driver rating, fifth-best among active drivers in 2022.

573 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high in a single season).

8,504 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (92.7%).

 

For Whom The Bell Tolls: JGR’s Christopher Bell seeks first career Cup title

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell joined the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2020, and ever since the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has been building momentum, and this season, he has become a force to be reckoned with. The 27-year-old, Bell, has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for three full seasons, qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in two of them (2021, 2022). This season will mark the first time the Oklahoman has made the Championship 4 Round and did so by winning the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway usurping Chase Elliott’s record of fewest starts in the series before making the Championship 4 at 184 starts; Bell accomplished the feat in 107 starts. If Bell were to win the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend, he would become the first NASCAR Cup Series driver from Oklahoma to win a championship.

 

In Bell’s first appearance in the Playoffs last season, he advanced to the Round of 12 but was eliminated from the postseason following an eighth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval. He ultimately finished the 2021 season 12th in the final championship standings.

 

Bell’s 2022 championship campaign was slow at the beginning of the season but following his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he has found another gear. Bell is having the best NASCAR Cup Series season of his career. In 35 starts, he has posted three wins (New Hampshire, Charlotte RC, Martinsville), 12 top fives and 19 top 10s. His average start this season is a 9.9 and his average finish is 13.6. He has also led a career-high 573 laps.

 

Bell proves to be one of the best in the Playoffs

The Joe Gibbs Racing rising star, Christopher Bell, was facing elimination for the second-time this postseason heading into Martinsville Speedway and he pulled off the nearly impossible and won to advance to the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. Now, the 27-year-old has his first chance at a Cup title this weekend in Phoenix.

 

Bell shot out of the gate this Playoffs becoming the only driver to post top-five finishes in the first three races of the opening round. He put up a fifth-place finish at Darlington Raceway, then finished third at Kansas and fourth at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12. But his luck turned when he skidded out in the first two races of the Round of 12, finishing 34th at Texas and 17th at Talladega. Heading to the elimination race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Road Course, he was 33 points below the cutline in a must-win situation, and he did just that. Bell won at the Roval and earned his spot in the Round of 8. It was the sixth-time in the elimination-style format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that a driver facing elimination has won to advance to the next round. Then again, Bell hit another speed bump opening the Round of 8 with a 34th-place finish at Las Vegas and a 11th-place finish at Homestead-Miami. Bell once again was facing elimination heading into last weekend at Martinsville Speedway (-33 points from cutline), and miraculously pulled off the win again to advance to the Championship 4. It was the seventh time a driver has faced elimination and won to advance and the first-time a driver has done it twice in a single Playoff run.

  

Bell’s previous performances at Phoenix Raceway

For the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to compete for the prestigious title. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell is the lone Toyota driver to make the Championship 4 and will look to bring home the Bill France Cup trophy on Sunday.

 

The one-mile Phoenix Raceway has been a challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the NASCAR Cup Series, having made five series starts at the one-mile track collecting just two top 10s. His average finish at Phoenix is 17.0, third-best among the Championship 4.

 

Bell also ranks in the top 20 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 16.145, 16th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 76.1, 17th-best and 185 Quality Passes, 20th-most.

 

Earlier this season, Bell started fourth but spun on the backstretch on Lap 119 and ultimately finished 26th two laps down at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Adam Stevens

Since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 2015, crew chief Adam Stevens has shown that he is one of the best leaders in the sport. Now, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series crew chief champion (2015, 2019) has the opportunity to become the seventh different crew chief in series history to win three or more championships. Prior to joining forces with Christopher Bell and the No. 20 team in 2020, Stevens worked with veteran Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team from 2015-2019.

 

In 280 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Stevens has led drivers to the following achievements since 2015:

 

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship (with driver Kyle Busch: 2015, 2019)
  • Six total NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances; five are consecutive (2015-2019, 2022)
  • Eight consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances
  • 32 wins
  • 115 top fives
  • 170 top 10s
  • 8,232 laps led
  • 19 poles

 

Bell and Stevens will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Stevens will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with titles with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2019, '15

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

Continuing Joe Gibbs Racing’s excellence

Winning and excellence are ingrained in the foundation of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization and since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 1992 the organization has collected five series championships among three drivers - Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).

 

Overall, Joe Gibbs Racing has 10 NASCAR national series owner championships (five in Cup and five in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016).

 

Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the last 22 NASCAR Cup Series championships (2000-2021), putting the team's title-winning percentage during that span at 22.7%. The organization also holds the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) record for the most wins in a single season with 19 victories in 2019.

 

Heading into Phoenix this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing has earned six NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022. The 2022 season is the organization’s 30th straight season with at least one victory in the NASCAR Cup Series totaling 200 career wins since 1992.

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s recent dominance doesn’t end there, they also set a NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era record for the most finishes (32) inside the top two in 2019; a feat Hendrick Motorsports tied in 2021. This season the JGR foursome of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. scored six wins, 34 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes.

 

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs elimination-style format in 2014, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed at least one driver in the Championship 4 Round each season (Christopher Bell: 2022, Denny Hamlin: 2014, ’19, ’20, ’21; Kyle Busch: 2015-2019; Martin Truex Jr.: 2019, 2021; Carl Edwards: 2016).

 

Impressively, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed more than one driver in the Championship 4 Round in three of the nine Playoffs with the elimination-format (2016, 2019 and 2021) and set the series record for the most drivers to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round by an organization in a single season when Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin all made the Championship 4 in 2019. 

 

Joe Gibbs Racing has also won at least one Playoff race in 15 of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 40 postseason wins, second-most all-time.

 

Christopher Bell made his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020 and he immediately got up to speed. In his rookie season he made all 36 starts posting two top fives and seven top 10s finishing the season 20th in points. In just his second season, he grabbed his first career Cup win at the Daytona Road Course and earned his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2021). Bell would finish the 2021 season in 12th after being eliminated in the Round of 12 from the postseason. This season has been a breakout year for the Oklahoman, in 36 starts he has put up career highs in wins (three), top fives (12) and top 10s (19); including becoming the first driver to face elimination twice in a postseason run and win both times to advance to the next round. Now the 27-year-old is looking to bring the Joe Gibbs Racing organization its sixth NASCAR Cup Series championship and his first; joining Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015 and 2019).

 

Ross Chastain (No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet)

 

Chastain By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2022)

1 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway 

1 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 (career-high)

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

10.6 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

10.8 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.5 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

14 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of the 2022 season

14.1 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

20 – Number of top-10 finishes during the first 35 races of the 2021 season

20.5 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

21 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

57.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – fourth-best among Championship 4

93.4 – Season-to-date driver rating – second-best among active drivers in 2022

692 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high)

8,740 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (95.3%)

 

Come So Far: Chastain revels in opportunity at a Cup title

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend looking to become the 36th different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win the championship and the first to accomplish the feat for Trackhouse Racing.

 

Of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 drivers, Chastain and Christopher Bell are making their final round debut. The Alva, Florida native’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series final standings was 20th last season.

 

It has been a long road to get to this point in the NASCAR Cup Series for Ross Chastain. In 2011, Chastain made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making five starts posting one top-10 finish. He would compete fulltime in the Truck Series in 2012 finishing 17th in the final standings for car owner Bobby Dotter. He then raced another 14 races in the Truck Series in 2013 for Brad Keselowski Racing finishing the season 18th in points. In 2014, he made the jump to racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with multiple teams making seven starts. He then went fulltime racing in the Xfinity Series for the next six seasons (2015-2020) finishing a career-best seventh in the points in 2019. He made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2017 with Premium Motorsports making two starts that season. He would race fulltime in the Cup Series with Premium Motorsports in 2018 and 2019 but had elected to earn points in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and the Truck Series in 2019 – he finished a career-best runner-up in the Truck standings in 2019. In 2020, he ran part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series making eight total starts, five for Spire Motorsports and three for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing filling in for an injured Ryan Newman. In 2021, Chastain signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to pilot the No. 42 car and his career has taken off ever since. In 36 series starts in 2021, Chastain posted three top fives and eight top 10s and finished the season, a then career-best 20th in points.

 

Following the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing at the conclusion of last season, Trackhouse Racing named Ross Chastain as the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet and the rest has been history. This season, Chastain is having a breakout year posting two wins (COTA and Talladega-1), 14 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has qualified for the Playoffs for the first-time in his career and fought his way to the Championship 4 for his first appearance in the final postseason round. And has done so, in the second fewest Cup Series starts in a driver’s career before making the Championship 4 at 150 starts, second only Christopher Bell at 107 and surpassing the previous record held by Chase Elliott of 184 in 2020. Chastain becomes the fifth different driver to earn a spot in the Championship 4 in his first elimination-style format Playoff appearance; joining the inaugural season Champ 4 drivers in 2014 – Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin,

 

Ross Chastain is looking to cap off a career season

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is having a career-year and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 Round for the first time, but also because he has racked up career-highs in every statistical category.

 

Chastain got up to speed at Trackhouse Racing fairly quickly this season winning in just his sixth race (COTA) with the organization – a team record for fewest races before a Cup win. And once Chastain found his groove, the successes just kept coming. He has rallied off two victories this season (COTA and Talladega-1) and has finished runner-up five times. In total he put up career-highs in wins (two), top-five (14) and top-10 (20) finishes this season, as well as a career-high in laps led at 692 laps out front.

 

And to top it all off, Chastain earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his career.

 

Chastain kicked the postseason’s Round of 16 off with a 20th-place finish at Darlington and then rallied with a seventh-place finish at Kansas and a sixth-place finish at Bristol to clinch a spot in the Round of 12. From there he finished 13th in Texas and then followed it up with a fourth-place finish at Talladega. Chastain then struggled at the Charlotte Road Course finishing 37th but had enough points to move on to the Round of 8. He then switched it to high gear in the Round of 8 putting up runner-up finishes at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami. Then on the final lap of the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, Chastain held it wide-open and passed enough cars in Turns 3 and 4 to lock himself into the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. He finished fourth at Martinsville one spot ahead of Denny Hamlin to close out the Round of 8.

 

Chastain’s career performance at Phoenix

Two of the four drivers in this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 have not previously won at Phoenix Raceway and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is one of them (also Christopher Bell).

 

Chastain has made eight starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at Phoenix is 20.5, fourth-best among the 2022 Championship 4.

 

Chastain will have his work cut out for him this weekend at the one-mile Phoenix track. He is ranked in the top 30 in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 22.504, 28th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 57.7, 26th-best, 22 Fastest Laps Run, 23rd-best and 582 Laps in the Top 15 (23.3%), 23rd-most.

 

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 17th and finished runner-up to Chase Briscoe – his best performance at the one-mile track.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Phil Surgen

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Chip Ganassi Racing crew chief in 2016, Phil Surgen has shown that he is one of the rising stars in the sport. Surgen has worked on a part-time basis with drivers Kyle Larson (2016), Matt Kenseth (2020) before serving as crew chief fulltime with Ross Chastain in 2021. Surgen also made the jump to Trackhouse Racing with Chastain this season. During his two seasons of full-time competition with Chastain, the duo has made 71 Cup Series starts together posting two wins, 17 top fives and 28 top 10s. The pair has also qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in their careers.

 

The Chastain-Surgen pair has combined for the following achievements in 71 NASCAR Cup Series races together:

 

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearance (2022)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2022)
  • 2 wins
  • 17 top fives
  • 28 top 10s
  • 754 laps led

 

The two will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Surgen will become the 45th different crew chief in the series with a championship.

 

Building a legacy with Trackhouse Racing

In just its second full season in the NASCAR Cup Series and its first year with multiple cars, Trackhouse Racing, has put both of its teams in Victory Lane and earned spots in the Playoffs for the first time in the organization’s history. On top of all that, driver Ross Chastain and the No. 1 team have qualified for the Championship 4 Round and have a shot at the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Trackhouse Racing will be facing three juggernaut organizations in the sport this weekend at Phoenix Raceway - Hendrick Motorsports with 14 Cup Series titles (most all-time), Joe Gibbs Racing with five series titles and Team Penske with two. Trackhouse Racing will be vying for their first NASCAR Cup Series championship.

 

Chastain can pour the foundation for the legacy of Trackhouse Racing this weekend at Phoenix by winning the title. If he accomplishes the feat, he will be the 36th different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship, and the third to do it in their first year with a new team in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (2014-2022); joining Kevin Harvick (2014) and Kyle Larson (2021).

 

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

 

Elliott By The Numbers:

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Championships (2020)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championships (2022)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix Raceway (2020)

3 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 (2020, ’21, ‘22)

5 – Number of career top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway 

5 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 – ties 2020 for career-high

5.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

8 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

10.8 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12.0 – Average finishing position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

16.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

20 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

46 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022 – series-most this year

99.2 – Season-to-date driver rating – series-best among active drivers in 2022

109.9 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – best among the Championship 4

546 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

857 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season

8,514 - Total number of laps completed in the 2021 season (92.8%)

 

Elliott has chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott has the opportunity this Sunday (Nov. 6) in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to become just the second active driver with multiple championships joining veteran Kyle Busch with two (2015, 2019). Elliott would also become the 17th different driver in series history to more than one series title.

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Driver

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

   

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

   

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

   

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

   

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

   

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

   

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Kyle Busch

2019, '15

   

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

   

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

   

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

   

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

   

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

   

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

 

If Elliott accomplishes the feat and wins the NASCAR Cup Series championship this weekend, he will also become the fourth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship and the overall title in the same season; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2019) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (2021).

 

Family Affair: Chase Elliott keeps piling on the Elliott racing legacy

NASCAR was built by hard working and dedicated families like the Frances, Pettys, Jarretts and Earnhardts, and this weekend Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott has the chance to build on his family’s legacy by adding another championship to the family name in the highest form of stock car racing – the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

If Elliott accomplishes the feat the Elliotts (Bill: 1988 and Chase: 2020) would join the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979), and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999) as just the third father-son combo to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series titles.

 

Elliott’s talent was apparent early on in his career. The Dawsonville, Georgia native jumped in the national NASCAR scene in 2013 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis, making nine starts and winning at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in just his sixth start. He then climbed up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports and became the first rookie in series history to win the series championship in 2014. He ran one more season in Xfinity, finishing runner-up in the points in 2015 before moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2016 with Hendrick Motorsports.

 

Elliott has qualified for the Playoffs all seven seasons he has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, and this is the third straight season he has earned a spot in the Championship 4 Round (2020, 2021, 2022). Since running fulltime in the series, Elliott has made 256 starts putting up 18 wins, 86 top fives and 137 top 10s.

 

Mr. ‘Most Popular’ is looking to add to his championship resume

Embraced by the overwhelming cheers in his favor by the fans at the racetrack, there is no doubt Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular driver. The year-end award he has taken home for that special distinction the last four seasons is just confirmation on top of the songs of fans singing his praises on a weekly basis.

 

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Elliott, has been at the front of the field most of the season. He took the NASCAR Cup Series point standings lead following Atlanta and held it for 22 consecutive races. Elliott finished the regular season with four wins and took the Regular Season Championship for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old, Elliott, entered the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 40 Playoff points to his credit.

 

Unfortunately, a mid-race incident at Darlington Raceway to open the 2022 Playoffs relegated him to a 36th-place finish, but Elliott was quick to rebound, finishing 11th at Kansas and runner-up at Bristol to earn enough points to advance to the Round of 12.

 

Once again, Elliott was in an incident to start the Round of 12 at Texas finishing 34th, but the Georgia native reversed course at Talladega grabbing his fifth win of the season and securing his spot in the Round of 8. He would finish the Round of 12 with a 20th-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

 

Elliott then finished 21st at Las Vegas and 14th at Homestead-Miami in the Playoffs Round of 8. As a result, he was 11 points up on the Championship 4 cutoff heading into the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. Mr. ‘Most Popular’ then finished second in the first two stages and finished the race in 10th at Martinsville to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round for the third time in his career (2020-2022).

 

Through 35 races this season Chase Elliott has put up five wins, 12 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has led 857 laps and has an average finish of 12.0. He also has the series-best season-to-date driver rating (99.2) on the year.

 

Elliott’s prowess in the Valley of the Sun

For just the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history, Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to battle it out for the NASCAR Cup Series title. And the recent change could not have come at a better time for Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who has performed much better at Phoenix than the previous season finale venue Homestead-Miami Speedway, including winning the championship race in 2020 and taking the title.

 

Elliott has made 13 series starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one win (2020), five top fives, eight top 10s and a pole. His average finish at Phoenix is a strong 10.7, best among the 2022 Championship 4.

 

Elliott is also near the top of the charts in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 7.861, series-best, a Driver Rating of 109.9, second-best, 397 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best and 3,520 Laps in the Top 15 (86.4%), 10th-most.

 

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 19th and finished 11th.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Alan Gustafson  

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief in 2005, Alan Gustafson has proven that he is one of the best in the sport. Now, the 2020 series crew chief champion has the chance to become the 16th different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series to win multiple titles all-time. If Gustafson and the No. 9 team pull off the championship this weekend, Gustafson will also become just the second active crew chief with multiple Cup Series titles, joining Adam Stevens (2015, 2019).

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2019, '15

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

During his 18 seasons of full-time competition, Gustafson has worked with five different drivers: Kyle Busch (2005-2007), Casey Mears (2008), Mark Martin (2009, 2010), Jeff Gordon (2011-2015) and Chase Elliott (2016-Present). And during those 18 seasons he led his drivers to 15 Playoff appearances and to wins in 14 of the 18 seasons. This weekend at Phoenix will mark his fourth appearance in the Championship 4 Round, his first appearance was with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2015 when they finished the season third in points. In his other two appearances, he won the championship in 2020 and finished fourth in the final standings last season.

 

The Elliott-Gustafson pair has combined for the following achievements in 247 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2016:

 

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship (2020)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship (2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2021, 2022)
  • Seven consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2016-2022)
  • 18 wins
  • 84 top fives
  • 135 top 10s
  • 4,900 laps led
  • 12 poles

 

The two will look to capture their second NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Gustafson is one of 44 different crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series with a championship.

 

Adding to the historic legacy of Hendrick Motorsports

When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 14 championships among five different drivers – Kyle Larson (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

 

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 17 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR (14 in Cup and three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – 1997, 1999, 2001).

 

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995-98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997-98; Terry Labonte 1996) and then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006-2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 of the last 27 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995-2021), putting the team's title-winning percentage during that span at 51.8% - series-best.

 

The 2022 season is the organization’s 37th straight season with a victory; longest-ever streak by a team in the series and its 38th season overall with a win; the most-ever by a team in the series. And to top all of that, the organization is the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series with 291 total Cup wins.

 

The Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman put up 11 wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series and all four made the Playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Playoff race in each of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 55 postseason wins, most all-time.

 

Chase Elliott can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports this weekend by winning the title and extending the organization’s record in series driver championships, but the No. 9 team did not advance to the Championship 4 Round in the owners’ standings, but instead his teammate Kyle Larson’s No. 5 team earned the spot for Hendrick Motorsports this season. If Larson were to win the owners championship this season, it would be the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings since 1963 that the series has had a split driver and owner championship, and it would be just the third time it has occurred in the series all-time. The first time the series saw a split championship was in 1954, when Lee Petty won the drivers championship and Herb Thomas’ No. 92 team won the owners title. The second time it has happened was in 1963, when Joe Weatherly won the driver championship, and the No. 21 Wood Brother Racing team won the owner’s title.

 

In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 12 victories among seven different drivers.

 

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

 

Logano By The Numbers:

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins at Phoenix Raceway – most among Championship 4 

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022

5 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 – tied for series-most

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

7 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

10.4 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

13.1 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

13.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.8 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

15 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

16 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

26 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

94.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – second-best among Championship 4

89.5 – Season-to-date driver rating – sixth-best among active drivers this season

597 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season

721 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

8,981 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (97.9%)

 

Logano has a chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Team Penske’s Joey Logano took home his first NASCAR Cup Series championship back in 2018 passing Martin Truex Jr. late in the season finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway to hoist the Bill France Cup trophy. Now, the Connecticut native has a chance to become just the second active driver with multiple series titles and the 17th all-time to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series championships.

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Driver

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

   

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

   

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

   

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

   

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

   

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

   

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Kyle Busch

2019, '15

   

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

   

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

   

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

   

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

   

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

   

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

 

Joey Logano started the 2022 season off fast with crew chief Paul Wolfe grabbing the points lead following the first race of the season at Phoenix back in March. He then collected his first win of the season at the historic Darlington Raceway, taking the checkered flag from the pole position. He grab his second win of the season at NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway. He finished the regular season with two wins, seven top fives and 12 top 10s entering the 2022 Playoffs as the second seed with 25 Playoffs points.

 

Logano and the No. 22 team’s path to the season finale at Phoenix

Team Penske’s Joey Logano has been a staple in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He has qualified for the Playoffs in nine of 14 seasons he has competed fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series, and since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014, Logano has made the Championship 4 Round a total of five times (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022) – tied for the series-most appearances with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

 

In the Round of 16, No. 22 team and driver Joey Logano put up a fourth-place finish at Darlington but then finished 17th at Kansas and 27th at Bristol due to a suspension failure forcing Logano to rely on his Playoff points to help him advance to the Round of 12. In the next round, Logano again started-off strong and faded. He finished runner-up to open the Round of 12 at Texas, but then followed it up with a 27th-place finish at Talladega and an 18th at the Charlotte Road Course scoring just enough points to advance. But all that changed when Logano jumped to the front of the Playoff field with a win in the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas earning the first spot in the Championship 4 Round this season. Logano has been on cruise control ever since, finishing 18th at Homestead-Miami and sixth last week at Martinsville.

 

Logano’s time to shine in the Valley of the Sun

Of the four drivers vying for the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Team Penske Joey Logano has to be the most thrilled it will be decided on the one-mile oval in the Valley of the Sun, as he has the most experience at the one-mile track (27 starts) and the most wins (two) among the Championship 4.

 

In total, Logano has made 27 series starts at Phoenix posting two wins (2016, 2020), seven top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish is 13.1, seventh-best in the series, and second among the Championship 4.

 

Expect Logano to be in the mix this weekend at Phoenix, he is ranked in the top 10 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 11.287, seventh-best, a Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best, 304 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best and 6,202 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6%), sixth-most.

 

Crew Chief Corner: The Wolfe in the room 

Paul Wolfe won Team Penske’s first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and now the veteran crew chief has a chance at becoming just the second active crew chief with more than one series title and the 16th different crew chief with multiple Cup championships. 

 

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles 

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty 

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2015, '19

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

Before becoming a crew chief, Paul Wolfe competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driving for

car owners Ray Evernham, Armando Fitz, Tommy Baldwin Jr. and Eddie D’Hondt from

2003 – 2005. Wolfe’s first NASCAR crew chief opportunity came at Fitz Bradshaw Racing in 2006. He then moved to Braun Racing in 2008 and then CJM Racing in 2009 before settling at Team Penske in 2010. 

 

In 2010, Wolfe led Brad Keselowski to the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after posting six wins on the season. In 2011 the duo made the leap to the NASCAR Cup Series and in just their second season together in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012), he led Brad Keselowski to the series championship, becoming the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win a NASCAR Cup Series and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship as the duo posted five wins in 2012 in the Cup Series.

 

From 2011-2019, Keselowski and Wolfe put up 29 wins, 110 top fives and 175 top 10s. The in 2020, Wolfe joined Joey Logano and the No. 22 team and has not missed a beat. Since joining forces, Logano and Wolfe have made 106 start together in the NASCAR Cup Series amassing seven wins, 31 top fives and 51 top 10s. they have qualified for the Playoffs all three seasons of working together and have made the Championship 4 Round twice (2020, 2022).

 

The Logano-Wolfe pair has combined for the following achievements in 106 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2020:

 

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2020-2022)
  • 7 wins
  • 31 top fives
  • 51 top 10s
  • 1,989 laps led
  • 3 poles

 

If Wolfe wins the title with Logano this weekend, he will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with championships with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

 

Team Penske’s chance at a third title

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 is comprised of four drivers from four different organizations – Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Team Penske – making this season’s Championship Race one for the ages.

 

Team Penske last won at Phoenix Raceway in the spring of 2020, but the organization has a total of three wins at the one-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series – Rusty Wallace (1998), Joey Logano (2016 and 2020).

 

Team Penske is currently tied with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing for the sixth most NASCAR Cup Series championships in the Modern Era (1972-Present) at two each. Team Penske scored its first NASCAR Cup Series championship with driver Brad Keselowski in 2012 and its second with driver Joey Logano in 2018. If Team Penske accomplishes the feat of winning the championship this weekend, they would break the tie with RFK Racing and SHR and become the organization solely in the sixth position among championships with three just behind Petty Enterprises with four (in the Modern Era).

 

In total, Team Penske has eight NASCAR national series owner championships – two in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012, 2018) and six in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021).

 

Ty Gibbs arrives in Phoenix apologetic but focused on a title

 

PHOENIX, Ariz. – From the look on his face to his body language, Ty Gibbs knew that Thursday’s Championship 4 Media Day in Phoenix was going to be a test of resolve and contrition. And from the very first question from reporters to the very first answer he offered, Gibbs was resolute in his apology saying, “selfish actions” and “being caught in the moment” led to his highly criticized racing style last week.

 

Gibbs fully concedes, wrecking his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones for the victory in last weekend’s championship field-setting race at Martinsville, Va. was not a “good look” and it had very real consequences for his family’s team. Jones was leading the race at the time Gibbs hit him from behind with less than a lap remaining and drove by for the win – acknowledging Thursday that he understood the situation at the time, “I knew he (Jones) had to win.”

 

“My actions put myself in this position and I just have to learn from it and move on, it’s just hard," said the 20-year-old Gibbs, who will vie for his first NASCAR national series title against three JR Motorsports drivers - Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier - in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race (6 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Had Jones won the race last week, it would have been his ticket into the Championship 4 pitting a pair of JRM Chevrolets against a pair of JGR Toyotas. Now Gibbs – a six-time winner - will have to rise to the occasion representing his team on his own.

 

“I think the biggest thing is at JGR, we are all one big family and for me to kind of break that apart for my selfish actions really hurts me because I kinda grew up there," Gibbs said. “And it’s not cool. These guys work so hard the whole year and it’s just hard, it’s a lot."

 

Gibbs would not provide details but said he has spoken to Jones and “I can completely understand where he’s coming from, and I accept it. ... I have to face the fact I made a mistake and have to work as hard as I can to fix these issues."

 

Gibbs said he watched the television race highlights late last Saturday and that “it does affect me” watching the replay of a move he wishes he hadn’t made - and also hearing the loud and negative fan reaction when he emerged from this car.

 

Gragson, who has a season-high – and career best - eight race wins in 2022, was candid in his displeasure over Gibbs’ racing last week. The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet said, “I’m just over it," about Gibb’s racing style.

 

“I’m just sick and tired of the, ‘I’m sorry, I’m trying to learn’ deal," Gragson said. “It’s been two years. … I think all of us are definitely over being the pinball for him."

 

Gragson brushed off the idea that perhaps Gibbs returns to the track this week a little more mindful. “He doesn’t care," said Gragson, who added the two even had a conversation mid-season about Gibbs aggressive tactics.

 

“It’s crazy to me, but it worked out for JRM so now we’ve got a 75 percent chance to win [the championship]," said Gragson, who will move up to the NASCAR Cup Series next season and be replaced next year at JRM by Brandon Jones.

 

Gragson won at Phoenix in March. Gibbs best finish in two starts, is runner-up in 2021.

 

Gibbs acknowledged the possibility that Jones or someone else in the field perhaps another competitor he’s had a past run-in with may do something to hurt his chances at a race win and the series championship. But Gibbs reiterated, "There’s nothing I can do about that."

 

“You just have to transition your mind to that," Gibbs said, of re-setting and preparing to race for the championship.

 

“For me, I love racing so much I can transition it pretty easy to my racing side, just because I love it," Gibbs said. “And I feel like that’s a good trait I have but sometimes I make mistakes and have to own up to it and work as hard as I can to fix that as I do racing and studying data."


 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

getty images

All eyes on Phoenix Raceway for Championship Weekend

The anticipation and intensity that has been building over the last 35 races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season will culminate this Sunday (Nov. 6) in the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Four drivers have earned their way into the series’ Championship 4 Round. Two are former Cup champions – Joey Logano (2018) and Chase Elliott (2020) – and the other two – Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain - are hoping to etch their name on the NASCAR Cup Series champions list for the first time.

 

It was announced in March of 2019 that the NASCAR Cup Series would be moving its Playoffs’ Championship Race from Homestead-Miami Speedway, where it had resided since the inception of the Playoffs in 2004, to Phoenix Raceway for the first time in 2020. Prior to the 2020 season, Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs season finale for 16 seasons (from 2004-2019). Phoenix Raceway is just the second track to host the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race in the Playoffs.

 

2022 marks just the third year the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race will be held at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona (2020-2021). Since the inception of the Playoffs in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2004, Phoenix Raceway has occupied three different positions on the postseason schedule. In 2004, Phoenix Raceway hosted the eighth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. Then from 2005 – 2019 (15 seasons), Phoenix Raceway has hosted the penultimate race (ninth) in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

 

A total of 11 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Phoenix Raceway. Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup Series in Playoff race wins at Phoenix Raceway with four victories (2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014). Since hosting the series’ Championship Race, the winner of the race has also won the NASCAR Cup Series title - Chase Elliott won at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 8, 2020 and Kyle Larson won at Phoenix on Nov. 7, 2021.

 

NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway Playoff Race Winners

   

Track

Playoff Race Winners

Date

Race No.

Phoenix

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Sunday, November 7, 2004

34

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

Sunday, November 13, 2005

35

Phoenix

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, November 12, 2006

35

Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, November 11, 2007

35

Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, November 9, 2008

35

Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, November 15, 2009

35

Phoenix

Carl Edwards

Sunday, November 14, 2010

35

Phoenix

Kasey Kahne

Sunday, November 13, 2011

35

Phoenix

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, November 11, 2012

35

Phoenix

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, November 10, 2013

35

Phoenix

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, November 9, 2014

35

Phoenix

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Sunday, November 15, 2015

35

Phoenix

Joey Logano

Sunday, November 13, 2016

35

Phoenix

Matt Kenseth

Sunday, November 12, 2017

35

Phoenix

Kyle Busch

Sunday, November 11, 2018

35

Phoenix

Denny Hamlin

Sunday, November 10, 2019

35

Phoenix

Chase Elliott

Sunday, November 8, 2020

36

Phoenix

Kyle Larson

Sunday, November 7, 2021

36

 

Four non-Playoff drivers have won a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway:

 

  • In 2005, Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race on the postseason schedule, and was ranked 19th in the point standings at the time of the win.

 

  • In 2011, Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race on the postseason schedule, and was ranked 14th in the point standings at the time of the win.

 

  • In 2015, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race on the postseason schedule, and was seventh in the point standings at the time of the win. Earnhardt Jr. had made the Playoffs in 2015 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.

 

  • In 2017, Matt Kenseth won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race on the postseason schedule, and was seventh in points at the time of the win. Kenseth had made the Playoffs in 2017 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.

 

The worst finish in a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Phoenix Raceway by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 38th by Jimmie Johnson in 2016. Phoenix occupied the penultimate event of the season in 2016.

 

In total, Phoenix Raceway has hosted 52 NASCAR Cup Series races producing 26 different pole winners and 28 different race winners. The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway was held on November 6, 1988 and was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Alan Kulwicki.

 

Ryan Newman (2002, 2003, 2004, 2008) and Kyle Busch (2006, 2012, 2016, 2019) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Phoenix Raceway with four each. Of the 26 NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway pole winners, 10 are active this weekend.

 

Active Phoenix Pole Winners

Poles

Seasons

Kyle Busch

4

2006, 2012, 2016, 2019

Ryan Blaney

3

2017, 2019, 2022

Kevin Harvick

2

2015, 2018

Martin Truex Jr

2

2009, 2018

Denny Hamlin

2

2005, 2014

Kyle Larson

1

2021

Chase Elliott

1

2020

Joey Logano

1

2017

Alex Bowman

1

2016

Brad Keselowski

1

2014

 

A total of 28 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Phoenix Raceway, and 13 of the 28 have won multiple times at 1-mile track. Eight of the 28 NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway winners are active this weekend, and two of the eight are Championship 4 contenders – Joey Logano and Chase Elliott. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Phoenix Raceway with nine victories.

 

Active Phoenix Race Winners

Wins

Seasons

Kevin Harvick

9

2018, 2016, 2015, 2014 sweep, 2013, 2012, 2007 sweep

Kyle Busch

3

2019, 2018, 2005

Joey Logano

2

2020, 2016

Denny Hamlin

2

2019, 2012

Chase Briscoe

1

2022

Kyle Larson

1

2021

Martin Truex Jr

1

2021

Chase Elliott

1

2020

 

All the NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity will start with practice on Friday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. ET, and the Busch Light Pole Qualifying will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. ET and both can be viewed on the USA Network.

 

A deep dive into the NASCAR Cup Series season finale

When it comes time to win or go home, there is no bigger stage in NASCAR than the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Championship Race. Below is a look at the performances in the season finale during the Playoff Era (2004-2021).

 

A total of 13 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race during the Playoff Era (2004-2021). Greg Biffle leads the NASCAR Cup Series in Championship Race wins with three victories (2004, 2005, 2006 – all at Homestead-Miami Speedway). Denny Hamlin (2009, 2013) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019) lead all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race wins with two each.

 

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Winners

Track

Playoff Race Winners

Date

Homestead

Greg Biffle

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Homestead

Greg Biffle

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Homestead

Greg Biffle

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Homestead

Matt Kenseth

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Homestead

Carl Edwards

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Homestead

Denny Hamlin

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Homestead

Carl Edwards

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Homestead

Tony Stewart

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homestead

Jeff Gordon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homestead

Denny Hamlin

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Homestead

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homestead

Kyle Busch

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Homestead

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Homestead

Martin Truex Jr

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Homestead

Joey Logano

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Homestead

Kyle Busch

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Phoenix

Chase Elliott

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Phoenix

Kyle Larson

Sunday, November 7, 2021

 

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2004, the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series season finale race has won the championship nine times, including the last eight consecutive: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.

 

o   In 2011, Tony Stewart won from the 15th starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and as a result secured his third-career NASCAR Cup Series championship in the closest points battle in series history – tied with Carl Edwards – Stewart won the title by virtue of the tiebreaker: most wins.

 

o   In 2014, Kevin Harvick won from the fifth starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the first year of the elimination-style format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, as a result he won his first series title.

 

o   In 2015, Kyle Busch won from the third starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the second year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, as a result he won his first series championship.

  

o   In 2016, Jimmie Johnson won from the 14th starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the third year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, and as a result he tied NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the series-most championships with seven each.

 

o   In 2017, Martin Truex Jr. won from the second starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the fourth year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, and as a result he won his first series championship.

 

o   In 2018, Joey Logano won from the fifth starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the fifth year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, and as a result he won his first series championship.

 

o   In 2019, Kyle Busch won from the fourth starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the sixth year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, and as a result he became just the second active driver at the time with multiple titles (20115, 2019) joining seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

  

o   In 2020, Chase Elliott won from the first starting position at Phoenix Raceway in the seventh year of the elimination-style format of the Playoffs, and as a result he won his first series championship. Worth noting, Elliott was served a pre-race penalty and as a result of serving the penalty he actually started the race from back of the field and still won.

 

o   In 2021, Kyle Larson won from the pole position at Phoenix Raceway in the eighth year of the elimination-style format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and as a result he won his first series championship.

 

The worst finish in a championship race by the eventual series champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway was 15th (three times): Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012.

 

Two non-Playoff drivers have won the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale Playoff race: Greg Biffle (2004 and 2006) and Denny Hamlin (2013).

 

By The Numbers: Phoenix Raceway & the Season Finale

0.10 – Since the advent of electronic scoring (1993), the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway is the Spring race of 2016 (March 13, 2016) when Kevin Harvick beat Carl Edwards to the line by 0.010 seconds – which is tied with Atlanta (3/12/2000), Daytona (2/21/2016), and Rockingham (2/22/2004) for the ninth closest finish in series history.

 

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series championship races Phoenix Raceway has hosted (2020, 2021).

 

2 – Number of 2022 Championship 4 drivers with a former win at Phoenix Raceway – Joey Logano and Chase Elliott.

 

4 The fewest laps led by the race winner in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway was four of the scheduled 378 laps (1.05%) by Ryan Newman on April 10, 2010 – he started from the 14th position.

 

4 In total four different manufacturers have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Chevrolet with 25 victories and followed by Ford (18), Toyota (7) and Pontiac (2).

 

4 – Number of drivers that qualified for 2022 Championship 4 Round – Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott. This is Chastain and Bell’s first appearance in the Championship 4 Round.

 

7 – Number of former NASCAR Cup Series champions entered in this year’s season finale race at Phoenix:

 

Active NASCAR Cup Series Drivers with Championships (1949 - 2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Active Champions (7)

Years

1

2

Kyle Busch

2019, 2015

2

1

Kyle Larson

2021

 

1

Chase Elliott

2020

 

1

Joey Logano

2018

 

1

Martin Truex Jr.

2017

 

1

Kevin Harvick

2014

 

1

Brad Keselowski

2012

 

7 – Number of wins from the pole or first starting position at Phoenix Raceway – most recent was Kyle Larson’s win in the Championship Race last season.

 

8 – Number of former NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix race winners entered in this weekend’s season finale.

 

9 – Number of times the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series championship season finale race has won the title during the Playoff Era (2004-Present); including the last eight consecutive seasons in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs - Tony Stewart, 2011; Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016; Martin Truex Jr., 2017; Joey Logano, 2018; Kyle Busch, 2019; Chase Elliott, 2020 and Kyle Larson, 2021 – Note: All the wins listed were at Homestead-Miami Speedway except for Elliott’s in 2020 and Larson’s in 2021 which were at Phoenix Raceway.

 

9 – The degrees of banking in Turns 1 and 2 of Phoenix Raceway.

 

9 – Nine of the 52 NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway have ended with in Overtime (18%):

 

Date

Scheduled

Actual

Overtime

Winner

Runner-Up

Sunday, March 8, 2020

312

316

4

Joey Logano

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, March 19, 2017

312

314

2

Ryan Newman

Kyle Larson

Sunday, November 13, 2016

312

324

12

Joey Logano

Kyle Busch

Sunday, March 13, 2016

312

313

1

Kevin Harvick

Carl Edwards

Sunday, March 3, 2013

312

316

4

Carl Edwards

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, November 11, 2012

312

319

7

Kevin Harvick

Denny Hamlin

Saturday, April 10, 2010

375

378

3

Ryan Newman

Jeff Gordon

Sunday, November 9, 2008

312

313

1

Jimmie Johnson

Kurt Busch

Sunday, November 7, 2004

312

315

3

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Ryan Newman

 

11 – The degrees of banking in Turns 3 and 4 of Phoenix Raceway.

 

12 – The most cautions in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway; has happened twice – most recently March 8, 2020.

 

13 – The number of different organizations in the NASCAR Cup Series that have won at Phoenix Raceway, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 12 victories among seven drivers.

 

15 – The worst finish by the eventual series champion in the season finale race (at Homestead-Miami Speedway) - it has happened three times: Tony Stewart in 2005, Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and Brad Keselowski in 2012. 

 

15 – The highest number of lap leaders in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway (March 4, 2012). The Phoenix race earlier this season had six leaders.

 

18 – Total number of NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races held at Phoenix Raceway (2004-2020).

 

20 – The age of the youngest NASCAR Cup Series race winner at Phoenix Raceway: Kyle Busch (November 13, 2005 – 20 years, 6 months, 11 days).

 

26 – Number of different NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Phoenix Raceway; led by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick with four each.

 

28 – Number of different NASCAR Cup Series winners at Phoenix Raceway; led by Kevin Harvick with nine victories.

 

28 – The greatest number of lead changes in a single race at Phoenix Raceway (Feb. 27, 2011). Earlier this season the NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix produced 14 lead changes.

 

29 – The lowest starting position by a race winner at Phoenix Raceway (Ricky Rudd, 1995).

 

39 – Most NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway starts by a driver - Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick have 39 starts each.

 

50 – The age of the oldest NASCAR Cup Series race winner at Phoenix Raceway: Mark Martin (April 18, 2009 – 50 years, 3 months, 9 days).

 

52 – Total number of NASCAR Cup Series races held at Phoenix Raceway.

 

95 – Number of different drivers that have led at least one lap in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway.

 

264 – The most laps led by the race winner in a single NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway was 264 of the scheduled 312 laps (84.6%) by Kevin Harvick on November 9, 2014 – he started from the third position.

 

312 – Number of laps scheduled for this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.

 

1,663 – The most laps led all-time by a driver (Kevin Harvick) in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Season Finale Title-Clinching Performances

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will mark the conclusion of the 2022 season. Below is a look at how the last 12 NASCAR Cup Series season finales (2010-2021) have turned out:

 

2010 – Jimmie Johnson Tracks Down Denny Hamlin For Fifth Straight Title

Denny Hamlin held a comfortable 15-point lead on Jimmie Johnson for the championship heading into the season finale. However, Hamlin could not close out the title. Hamlin damaged his Toyota with an early-race spin and finished 14th as a result. Kevin Harvick, who was third in points entering the race, finished third. Johnson placed runner-up to take home his fifth consecutive championship.

 

2011 – Tony Stewart Wins Third Championship In Epic Race

Trailing leader Carl Edwards by three points entering the 2011 season finale, Tony Stewart virtually needed a win to capture the title – especially considering that Edwards ultimately finished runner-up in the race. Stewart drove to the front from the back of the field twice and edged out Edwards to get to Victory Lane. The pair finished the season tied in points, but Stewart held the tiebreaker over Edwards of most wins during the season (five to one). It was the first title for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

2012 – Brad Keselowski Fends Off Jimmie Johnson For First Championship

Brad Keselowski entered the 2012 season finale 20 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings. Keselowski, who won two Playoff races to help put himself in championship-clinching position, didn’t produce his best performance with a 15th-place showing at Homestead-Miami. But problems in the pits for Johnson caused the five-time champion to finish 36th and helped Keselowski secure his first championship, as well as the first title for Team Penske.

 

2013 – Jimmie Johnson Closes In On Earnhardt And Petty With Sixth Title

After building up his points lead on the strength of six wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s, Jimmie Johnson needed to finish 23rd to capture his sixth NASCAR Cup Series championship. Following an incident on a restart just shy of the 200-lap mark, Johnson ended up 23rd when it all sorted itself out. By the end of the race, he worked his way up to finish ninth, earning Hendrick Motorsports a record 11th championship.

 

2014 – Harvick Rides To Two ‘Do Or Die’ Victories To Earn First Series Title

Kevin Harvick started the penultimate race of the 2014 season needing a win to get into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix. He dominated the contest, leading 264 laps to earn the victory and a spot in the Championship 4. After playing mind games throughout Homestead week with the rest of the field, Harvick held off runner-up Ryan Newman to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series title and the second for Stewart-Haas Racing.

 

2015 – Kyle Busch Overcomes Injury For Improbable Comeback

Just ninth months after breaking his right leg and fracturing his left foot, Kyle Busch edged out defending champion Kevin Harvick for the Homestead race win and his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after sustaining his injuries in a crash in the season-opening NASCAR Xfinity race at Daytona. He came back to win five races in the NASCAR Cup Series that year and cement his name in NASCAR history.

 

2016 – Johnson Ties Series Record With Seventh Championship

Jimmie Johnson proved once again to not count him out in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He won his way into the Round of 8 with a victory at Charlotte, then took the checkered flag at Martinsville to punch his ticket to Homestead. He provided a walk-off win at Homestead to capture his seventh championship, tying NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the NASCAR Cup Series record.

 

2017 – Martin Truex Jr. Earns First Championship

Driving for the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing, Truex turned a career-best season into a championship for the ages. His victory in the Homestead finale was a personal best eighth on the year. He led the final 34 laps and held off a hard charging Kyle Busch by .681-seconds to earn the trophy hoist. It was an emotional victory with team owner, Barney Visser recovering from a recent heart attack back in Denver and Truex’s longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex trackside after a year of major medical obstacles.

 

2018 – Joey Logano Wins First Championship

After qualifying for the Championship 4 in the Round of 8 opening race at Martinsville Speedway, the 28-year-old Logano headed to Homestead-Miami largely considered the “underdog” to 2018’s “Big 3” – Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. The threesome (Busch, 9, Harvick, 8 and Truex, 4) won 21 of the first 35 races in 2018. However, the Team Penske driver grabbed his opportunity and took it to the Big 3, winning the season finale by a sizable 1.7-seconds over Truex, Harvick and Busch and taking his career first NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy – Team Penske’s second.

 

2019 – Kyle Busch grabs second title, fifth for JGR

After putting up four wins early in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, Kyle Busch went winless for 21 races. He pointed his way into the Championship 4 but when his back was against the wall he answered and won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway passing Kevin Harvick in the closing laps and the holding off his hard charging Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. by 4.578-seconds to win his second championship. With the feat, Busch became just the second active multiple champion joining Jimmie Johnson (seven titles). The title was also the fifth for Joe Gibbs Racing - Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015 and 2019).

 

2020 – Chase Elliott comes from the rear to win first title at Phoenix

After putting up just two wins during the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Chase Elliott stepped up his game in the Playoffs winning at the Charlotte Road Course to advance to the Round of 8 and then winning the penultimate race at Martinsville Speedway to earn his spot in the Championship 4 Round. Elliott and the No. 9 team would head to Phoenix for the season finale only to lose their first starting position to multiple pre-race inspection failures. But the setback didn’t hold Elliott down, instead it made even more hungry for the title. He methodically worked his way through the field taking the lead for the first time in the event on Lap 79 of 312. Elliott would go on to hold off a hard charging Brad Keselowski to win the race by 2.740-seconds. With the feat, Elliott became seventh active champion. The title was also a series leading 13th for Hendrick Motorsports.

 

2021 – Kyle Larson dominates Phoenix to win first Cup championship

Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson was dominant all season long putting up five wins and winning the Regular Season Championship. The California native entered the 2021 Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 52 Playoffs points. Larson would then proceed to tie Tony Stewart’s Playoff record for the most wins in single NASCAR Cup Series postseason run with five victories, including the season finale race at Phoenix Raceway. Larson showed up to the Valley of the Sun as the odds favorite and he didn’t disappoint. Larson won the pole and then led a race-high 107 laps en route to the win and his first NASCAR Cup Series title. With the feat, Larson became eighth active champion at the time (prior to Kurt Busch stepping away from fulltime racing this season). The title was also a series leading 14th for Hendrick Motorsports.

 

2022 Champ 4 Contenders Thoughts Following Martinsville

Below are quotes from the four drivers and the team owners that have qualified for this season’s Championship 4 Round at Phoenix Raceway this weekend.

 

Joey Logano. …on his chances this weekend at Phoenix:

 

“Yeah, I feel great about our chances,” said Logano. “Honestly, I don't really care who else is in. It's about the No. 22 team winning a second title. That's what it's about. We just got to do our job and stay focused on us. Like I said, today we did what we needed to do to be prepared. We've had three weeks to think about our race car and how we want to play the race out, how we want to run practice. We've had the opportunity to really, really dive deep into Phoenix, so we'll take that to our advantage and move on.”

 

Walter Czarnecki. … on winning the INDYCAR and NASCAR Cup Series title in same season:

 

Yeah, thank you, that's a great question,” said Czarnecki. “I was actually looking at some statistics earlier in the week, and since 1967, we have been multiple champions in seven years, seven seasons, and in three of those seasons, we won three championships. So, it was either an INDYCAR championship, NASCAR Xfinity owners' championship, Australian Supercars championship, NASCAR Cup Series, but never, to your point, INDYCAR and Cup. It really would be something that -- it would be one of our goals to do it, particularly this year, so you're absolutely right.”

 

“We've been blessed with good teams all those year, been able to accomplish a lot, but still a little bit more to do, and as I said, this will be one of our goals, to win the Cup and win the INDYCAR in the same year.”

 

Christopher Bell. … on his mindset heading into Phoenix:

 

“Yeah, I mean, this next week (at Phoenix) is easy,” said Bell. “We don't have to focus on stage points or where we're at compared to everyone else. It's just one race. Like Adam (Stevens) said, whoever brings the best car and executes the best is going to win the race and the championship. Whatever happens, happens, and I'm very proud to be in this position. The sport is all about people. Fortunately for me I ended up with the best people around me.”

 

Joe Gibbs. …  on his outlook heading into this weekend at Phoenix:

 

“I think he's (Christopher Bell) got one out of four chances to win that (laughing),” said Gibbs. “I think that's probably what everybody is going to say. It is extremely tough. When you get to this point and you think about who's sitting there, who he's going to have to race against, those three other competitors from great organizations, I think it's going to be extremely hard.”

 

“I think the way our Playoffs are designed, it does bring a lot of excitement to it, every three races, dropping out four cars. Now we're down to just four. I think our fans love this format and the way it's designed. It brings a lot of pressure into the situation, and I think we love -- everybody loves to -- one of the things we love with sports and one of the things we love about pro sports, it's so hard. It's the greatest reality show in the world. We don't know. We're going to go to Phoenix, and there's going to be four great organizations, drivers competing with their crew chiefs and their teams and their pit crews. I think it's going to be just a great weekend for us.”

 

Ross Chastain. … on his path to this point in his career:

 

“I needed time,” said Chastain. “Those team owners through Trucks, Xfinity and Cup that gave me the time, I owe so much to. That's through the middle part of what I call my career here in NASCAR.”

 

“If you just go back two years, the fall Southern 500 at Darlington, I went there with Spire Motorsports. They bought sticker tires for the whole weekend. We had a podcast sponsoring us through T-shirts that we sold that didn't even have my name on it. I got to go race the fall Darlington race in a Cup car to keep building my notebook. We won our race. We beat the car we wanted to beat that day. That was two years ago. We came back this year and we had chances to win both Darlington races last fall. In the 42 we had chances to win the Southern 500.”

 

“If you go back two calendar years, I was the guy five laps down, seven laps down, something like that. Those were good nights. Those were wins in our book. Those moments, those nights, and those races, those laps, are a big reason why I feel like I'm able to do what I can do now.”

 

Justin Marks. … on the organization after making the Championship 4 for the first time:

 

“Yeah, it's just kind of -- I want to say it's business as usual,” said Marks. “Obviously, this is the pinnacle of the sport, and this is what everybody dreams of, the opportunity that everybody dreams of having.”

“What does it mean to be here? It's incredibly humbling,” said Marks. “To be in this spot right now, I can't help but be very reflective of my journey as a race fan and then as a driver and then as an owner. It's very, very surreal and humbling to be in this spot, especially for Trackhouse to be competing with true legends of the sport this weekend in Phoenix chasing glory.”

 

“At the end of the day, I think the overwhelming emotion that I have is just how proud I am of everybody at this company, how much everybody is committed to this vision, believed that this was possible, and have worked every hour of every day since this place turned into Trackhouse Racing with the belief in that vision and chasing it.”

 

Chase Elliott. … on making the Championship 4 Round this season:

 

“Yeah, super mixed emotions,” said Elliott. “We made the drivers side and didn't make the owners side. Just would have loved to have gotten the boss two cars in there. So certainly, excited from the driver standpoint, but would have loved to have gotten both those boxes checked. Unfortunately, didn't.”

 

“But, yeah, looking forward to getting home and working through what we need to work through to get ready for Phoenix. Certainly, we'll be ready to go the best we know how next Sunday.”

 

Rick Hendrick. … on the Next Gen car and the parity in the sport in 2022:

 

“Yeah, absolutely. The car has made it super competitive on any given day, anybody can win,” said Hendrick. “You've seen all these different winners this year. Nobody has really just dominated the sport. The parity is really unreal.”

 

“I think NASCAR got what they wanted. We're all trying to figure it out a little bit better each and every week. But boy, you just look at the lead changes and how many people are up there running up front, and you always expect to see coach up there and Roger, and Trackhouse has done an unbelievable job.”

 

“And you look at other teams like Petty and I think Brad and his team, they're going to be contenders next year.

So, I think it's leveled the playing field, and it's good for the sport. I think the fans love it.”

 

Chances a spoiler steals the show this weekend at Phoenix

Since the introduction of the "win and you’re in" elimination-style Playoff format, the eventual champion has won the season finale race (at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix Raceway) each of the eight previous years (Kevin Harvick, 2014; Kyle Busch, 2015; Jimmie Johnson, 2016; Martin Truex Jr., 2017; Joey Logano, 2018; Kyle Busch, 2019; Chase Elliott, 2020; Kyle Larson, 2021). Still, with Phoenix Raceway hosting the championship event, there is still a chance a driver out of championship contention can win the race.

 

The name that rises to the top of the list of possible spoilers this weekend, is NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway wins leader, Kevin Harvick, who has spent a career mastering the 1-mile raceway putting up nine series victories, including four Playoff wins. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver, Harvick, failed to make the Championship 4 this season, so, the Californian would like nothing more than to steal a win this weekend.

 

Expect Harvick to run well this weekend, as Phoenix Raceway is his best track. Harvick leads the series in wins (nine), top fives (18), top 10s (28) laps completed (12,154), laps led (1,663) and average finish (8.7) at the one-mile facility.

 

Another driver to watch this weekend, would be Kevin Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Chase Briscoe, who won at Phoenix Raceway earlier this season. The victory was Briscoe’s lone win this season, but the Indiana native put on quite the show to grab the win. He started from the sixth position and led second-most laps of the race at 101. Briscoe took the lead from Ryan Blaney with 24 laps to go, but a late caution nearly cost him the win as he had to hold off the field for one final restart to get the victory.

 

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – Team Penske’s Austin Cindric has mathematically clinched the 2022 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors but will not be officially awarded until he finishes the season in good standing, per the program guidelines and eligibility. Cindric is currently 304 points ahead of Anthony Alfredo in second.

 

NCS Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings

Sunoco Rookies

Points

Awards

Austin Cindric

2,198

22

Harrison Burton

555

9

Todd Gilliland

523

4

 

Cindric’s rookie campaign kicked off by winning the prestigious DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway, and the following week at Auto Club Speedway he finished 12th and became ethe first rookie in series history to hold the points lead for more than one race. On top of all that he earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and advanced to the Round of 12. In 35 starts, Cindric collected one win, five top fives and nine top 10s. His average starting position in 2022 is 12.6 and his average finish is 16.4. He has led 86 laps and has won 22 Sunoco Rookie of the Race Awards.

 

Cup Manufacturers Championship – Chevrolet has clinched the NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship this season. The manufacturer mathematically clinched the title following the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Chevrolet currently has 19 wins on the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

 

Nine different manufacturers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship. This is Chevrolet’s series leading 41st NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship,

 

NCS Manufacturer Champions

OEM

No. of Manufacturers Championships

Most Recent

Chevrolet

41

2021

Ford

17

2020

Toyota

3

2019

Hudson

3

1954

Buick

2

1982

Dodge

2

1975

Oldsmobile

1

1955

Plymouth

1

1971

Pontiac

1

1962

 

 

 


 

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Sunday, November 6

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $10,542,284

TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (In Alphabetical Order)

All the hard work put in to get to this point culminates this weekend as the Championship 4 contenders vie for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series title in the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

 

Team Penske’s Joey Logano secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round early, winning the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but for the other three drivers it came down to last weekend’s elimination race at Martinsville Speedway and the battle for the final spots didn’t disappoint. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, again this season, pulled off a ‘walk-off’ win facing elimination heading into Martinsville. Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2022 Regular Season Champion Chase Elliott finished 11th last Sunday and earned his position in the Champ 4 on points. And Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain pulled-off an unbelievable video game-type move, that some have deemed as the ‘Martinsville Miracle’ as he went wide-open along the outside wall in Turns 3 and 4 passing enough cars to earn the fourth and final spot on points in this season’s Championship 4. Now the stage is set for the Championship 4 drivers to contend for the title, and the prestigious Bill France Cup trophy, which will be awarded to the highest finishing driver of the four at Phoenix Raceway. Two of the four drivers are former champions – Logano (2018) and Elliott (2020) - with Bell and Chastain looking for their first Cup titles this season.

 

Here’s an in-depth look at the championship contenders heading into this action-packed Championship Week in Phoenix: (Listed in Alphabetical Order)

 

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

 

Bell By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round (2022).

2 – Number of career top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins during the 2022 season.

4 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series career total wins.

4 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season.

8.2 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

9.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway.

9.9 – Average starting position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

12 – Number of top-five finishes during the 2022 season.

12.2 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

13.9 – Average finishing position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

17.0 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway. 

18 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022.

19 – Number of top-10 finishes during the 2022 season.

76.1 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway, third-best among Championship 4.

91.2 – Season-to-date driver rating, fifth-best among active drivers in 2022.

573 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high in a single season).

8,504 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (92.7%).

 

For Whom The Bell Tolls: JGR’s Christopher Bell seeks first career Cup title

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell joined the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2020, and ever since the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has been building momentum, and this season, he has become a force to be reckoned with. The 27-year-old, Bell, has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for three full seasons, qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in two of them (2021, 2022). This season will mark the first time the Oklahoman has made the Championship 4 Round and did so by winning the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway usurping Chase Elliott’s record of fewest starts in the series before making the Championship 4 at 184 starts; Bell accomplished the feat in 107 starts. If Bell were to win the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend, he would become the first NASCAR Cup Series driver from Oklahoma to win a championship.

 

In Bell’s first appearance in the Playoffs last season, he advanced to the Round of 12 but was eliminated from the postseason following an eighth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval. He ultimately finished the 2021 season 12th in the final championship standings.

 

Bell’s 2022 championship campaign was slow at the beginning of the season but following his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he has found another gear. Bell is having the best NASCAR Cup Series season of his career. In 35 starts, he has posted three wins (New Hampshire, Charlotte RC, Martinsville), 12 top fives and 19 top 10s. His average start this season is a 9.9 and his average finish is 13.6. He has also led a career-high 573 laps.

 

Bell proves to be one of the best in the Playoffs

The Joe Gibbs Racing rising star, Christopher Bell, was facing elimination for the second-time this postseason heading into Martinsville Speedway and he pulled off the nearly impossible and won to advance to the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. Now, the 27-year-old has his first chance at a Cup title this weekend in Phoenix.

 

Bell shot out of the gate this Playoffs becoming the only driver to post top-five finishes in the first three races of the opening round. He put up a fifth-place finish at Darlington Raceway, then finished third at Kansas and fourth at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12. But his luck turned when he skidded out in the first two races of the Round of 12, finishing 34th at Texas and 17th at Talladega. Heading to the elimination race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Road Course, he was 33 points below the cutline in a must-win situation, and he did just that. Bell won at the Roval and earned his spot in the Round of 8. It was the sixth-time in the elimination-style format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that a driver facing elimination has won to advance to the next round. Then again, Bell hit another speed bump opening the Round of 8 with a 34th-place finish at Las Vegas and a 11th-place finish at Homestead-Miami. Bell once again was facing elimination heading into last weekend at Martinsville Speedway (-33 points from cutline), and miraculously pulled off the win again to advance to the Championship 4. It was the seventh time a driver has faced elimination and won to advance and the first-time a driver has done it twice in a single Playoff run.

  

Bell’s previous performances at Phoenix Raceway

For the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to compete for the prestigious title. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell is the lone Toyota driver to make the Championship 4 and will look to bring home the Bill France Cup trophy on Sunday.

 

The one-mile Phoenix Raceway has been a challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the NASCAR Cup Series, having made five series starts at the one-mile track collecting just two top 10s. His average finish at Phoenix is 17.0, third-best among the Championship 4.

 

Bell also ranks in the top 20 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 16.145, 16th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 76.1, 17th-best and 185 Quality Passes, 20th-most.

 

Earlier this season, Bell started fourth but spun on the backstretch on Lap 119 and ultimately finished 26th two laps down at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Adam Stevens

Since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 2015, crew chief Adam Stevens has shown that he is one of the best leaders in the sport. Now, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series crew chief champion (2015, 2019) has the opportunity to become the seventh different crew chief in series history to win three or more championships. Prior to joining forces with Christopher Bell and the No. 20 team in 2020, Stevens worked with veteran Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team from 2015-2019.

 

In 280 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Stevens has led drivers to the following achievements since 2015:

 

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship (with driver Kyle Busch: 2015, 2019)
  • Six total NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances; five are consecutive (2015-2019, 2022)
  • Eight consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances
  • 32 wins
  • 115 top fives
  • 170 top 10s
  • 8,232 laps led
  • 19 poles

 

Bell and Stevens will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Stevens will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with titles with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2019, '15

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

Continuing Joe Gibbs Racing’s excellence

Winning and excellence are ingrained in the foundation of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization and since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 1992 the organization has collected five series championships among three drivers - Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).

 

Overall, Joe Gibbs Racing has 10 NASCAR national series owner championships (five in Cup and five in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016).

 

Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the last 22 NASCAR Cup Series championships (2000-2021), putting the team's title-winning percentage during that span at 22.7%. The organization also holds the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) record for the most wins in a single season with 19 victories in 2019.

 

Heading into Phoenix this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing has earned six NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022. The 2022 season is the organization’s 30th straight season with at least one victory in the NASCAR Cup Series totaling 200 career wins since 1992.

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s recent dominance doesn’t end there, they also set a NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era record for the most finishes (32) inside the top two in 2019; a feat Hendrick Motorsports tied in 2021. This season the JGR foursome of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. scored six wins, 34 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes.

 

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs elimination-style format in 2014, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed at least one driver in the Championship 4 Round each season (Christopher Bell: 2022, Denny Hamlin: 2014, ’19, ’20, ’21; Kyle Busch: 2015-2019; Martin Truex Jr.: 2019, 2021; Carl Edwards: 2016).

 

Impressively, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed more than one driver in the Championship 4 Round in three of the nine Playoffs with the elimination-format (2016, 2019 and 2021) and set the series record for the most drivers to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round by an organization in a single season when Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin all made the Championship 4 in 2019. 

 

Joe Gibbs Racing has also won at least one Playoff race in 15 of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 40 postseason wins, second-most all-time.

 

Christopher Bell made his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020 and he immediately got up to speed. In his rookie season he made all 36 starts posting two top fives and seven top 10s finishing the season 20th in points. In just his second season, he grabbed his first career Cup win at the Daytona Road Course and earned his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2021). Bell would finish the 2021 season in 12th after being eliminated in the Round of 12 from the postseason. This season has been a breakout year for the Oklahoman, in 36 starts he has put up career highs in wins (three), top fives (12) and top 10s (19); including becoming the first driver to face elimination twice in a postseason run and win both times to advance to the next round. Now the 27-year-old is looking to bring the Joe Gibbs Racing organization its sixth NASCAR Cup Series championship and his first; joining Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015 and 2019).

 

Ross Chastain (No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet)

 

Chastain By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2022)

1 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway 

1 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 (career-high)

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

10.6 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

10.8 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.5 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

14 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of the 2022 season

14.1 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

20 – Number of top-10 finishes during the first 35 races of the 2021 season

20.5 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

21 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

57.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – fourth-best among Championship 4

93.4 – Season-to-date driver rating – second-best among active drivers in 2022

692 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high)

8,740 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (95.3%)

 

Come So Far: Chastain revels in opportunity at a Cup title

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend looking to become the 36th different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win the championship and the first to accomplish the feat for Trackhouse Racing.

 

Of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 drivers, Chastain and Christopher Bell are making their final round debut. The Alva, Florida native’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series final standings was 20th last season.

 

It has been a long road to get to this point in the NASCAR Cup Series for Ross Chastain. In 2011, Chastain made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making five starts posting one top-10 finish. He would compete fulltime in the Truck Series in 2012 finishing 17th in the final standings for car owner Bobby Dotter. He then raced another 14 races in the Truck Series in 2013 for Brad Keselowski Racing finishing the season 18th in points. In 2014, he made the jump to racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with multiple teams making seven starts. He then went fulltime racing in the Xfinity Series for the next six seasons (2015-2020) finishing a career-best seventh in the points in 2019. He made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2017 with Premium Motorsports making two starts that season. He would race fulltime in the Cup Series with Premium Motorsports in 2018 and 2019 but had elected to earn points in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and the Truck Series in 2019 – he finished a career-best runner-up in the Truck standings in 2019. In 2020, he ran part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series making eight total starts, five for Spire Motorsports and three for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing filling in for an injured Ryan Newman. In 2021, Chastain signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to pilot the No. 42 car and his career has taken off ever since. In 36 series starts in 2021, Chastain posted three top fives and eight top 10s and finished the season, a then career-best 20th in points.

 

Following the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing at the conclusion of last season, Trackhouse Racing named Ross Chastain as the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet and the rest has been history. This season, Chastain is having a breakout year posting two wins (COTA and Talladega-1), 14 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has qualified for the Playoffs for the first-time in his career and fought his way to the Championship 4 for his first appearance in the final postseason round. And has done so, in the second fewest Cup Series starts in a driver’s career before making the Championship 4 at 150 starts, second only Christopher Bell at 107 and surpassing the previous record held by Chase Elliott of 184 in 2020. Chastain becomes the fifth different driver to earn a spot in the Championship 4 in his first elimination-style format Playoff appearance; joining the inaugural season Champ 4 drivers in 2014 – Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin,

 

Ross Chastain is looking to cap off a career season

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is having a career-year and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 Round for the first time, but also because he has racked up career-highs in every statistical category.

 

Chastain got up to speed at Trackhouse Racing fairly quickly this season winning in just his sixth race (COTA) with the organization – a team record for fewest races before a Cup win. And once Chastain found his groove, the successes just kept coming. He has rallied off two victories this season (COTA and Talladega-1) and has finished runner-up five times. In total he put up career-highs in wins (two), top-five (14) and top-10 (20) finishes this season, as well as a career-high in laps led at 692 laps out front.

 

And to top it all off, Chastain earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his career.

 

Chastain kicked the postseason’s Round of 16 off with a 20th-place finish at Darlington and then rallied with a seventh-place finish at Kansas and a sixth-place finish at Bristol to clinch a spot in the Round of 12. From there he finished 13th in Texas and then followed it up with a fourth-place finish at Talladega. Chastain then struggled at the Charlotte Road Course finishing 37th but had enough points to move on to the Round of 8. He then switched it to high gear in the Round of 8 putting up runner-up finishes at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami. Then on the final lap of the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, Chastain held it wide-open and passed enough cars in Turns 3 and 4 to lock himself into the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. He finished fourth at Martinsville one spot ahead of Denny Hamlin to close out the Round of 8.

 

Chastain’s career performance at Phoenix

Two of the four drivers in this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 have not previously won at Phoenix Raceway and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is one of them (also Christopher Bell).

 

Chastain has made eight starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at Phoenix is 20.5, fourth-best among the 2022 Championship 4.

 

Chastain will have his work cut out for him this weekend at the one-mile Phoenix track. He is ranked in the top 30 in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 22.504, 28th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 57.7, 26th-best, 22 Fastest Laps Run, 23rd-best and 582 Laps in the Top 15 (23.3%), 23rd-most.

 

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 17th and finished runner-up to Chase Briscoe – his best performance at the one-mile track.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Phil Surgen

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Chip Ganassi Racing crew chief in 2016, Phil Surgen has shown that he is one of the rising stars in the sport. Surgen has worked on a part-time basis with drivers Kyle Larson (2016), Matt Kenseth (2020) before serving as crew chief fulltime with Ross Chastain in 2021. Surgen also made the jump to Trackhouse Racing with Chastain this season. During his two seasons of full-time competition with Chastain, the duo has made 71 Cup Series starts together posting two wins, 17 top fives and 28 top 10s. The pair has also qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in their careers.

 

The Chastain-Surgen pair has combined for the following achievements in 71 NASCAR Cup Series races together:

 

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearance (2022)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2022)
  • 2 wins
  • 17 top fives
  • 28 top 10s
  • 754 laps led

 

The two will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Surgen will become the 45th different crew chief in the series with a championship.

 

Building a legacy with Trackhouse Racing

In just its second full season in the NASCAR Cup Series and its first year with multiple cars, Trackhouse Racing, has put both of its teams in Victory Lane and earned spots in the Playoffs for the first time in the organization’s history. On top of all that, driver Ross Chastain and the No. 1 team have qualified for the Championship 4 Round and have a shot at the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Trackhouse Racing will be facing three juggernaut organizations in the sport this weekend at Phoenix Raceway - Hendrick Motorsports with 14 Cup Series titles (most all-time), Joe Gibbs Racing with five series titles and Team Penske with two. Trackhouse Racing will be vying for their first NASCAR Cup Series championship.

 

Chastain can pour the foundation for the legacy of Trackhouse Racing this weekend at Phoenix by winning the title. If he accomplishes the feat, he will be the 36th different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship, and the third to do it in their first year with a new team in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (2014-2022); joining Kevin Harvick (2014) and Kyle Larson (2021).

 

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

 

Elliott By The Numbers:

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Championships (2020)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championships (2022)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix Raceway (2020)

3 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 (2020, ’21, ‘22)

5 – Number of career top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway 

5 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 – ties 2020 for career-high

5.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

8 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

10.8 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12.0 – Average finishing position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

16.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

20 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

46 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022 – series-most this year

99.2 – Season-to-date driver rating – series-best among active drivers in 2022

109.9 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – best among the Championship 4

546 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

857 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season

8,514 - Total number of laps completed in the 2021 season (92.8%)

 

Elliott has chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott has the opportunity this Sunday (Nov. 6) in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to become just the second active driver with multiple championships joining veteran Kyle Busch with two (2015, 2019). Elliott would also become the 17th different driver in series history to more than one series title.

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Driver

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

   

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

   

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

   

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

   

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

   

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

   

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Kyle Busch

2019, '15

   

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

   

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

   

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

   

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

   

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

   

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

 

If Elliott accomplishes the feat and wins the NASCAR Cup Series championship this weekend, he will also become the fourth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship and the overall title in the same season; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2019) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (2021).

 

Family Affair: Chase Elliott keeps piling on the Elliott racing legacy

NASCAR was built by hard working and dedicated families like the Frances, Pettys, Jarretts and Earnhardts, and this weekend Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott has the chance to build on his family’s legacy by adding another championship to the family name in the highest form of stock car racing – the NASCAR Cup Series.

 

If Elliott accomplishes the feat the Elliotts (Bill: 1988 and Chase: 2020) would join the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979), and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999) as just the third father-son combo to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series titles.

 

Elliott’s talent was apparent early on in his career. The Dawsonville, Georgia native jumped in the national NASCAR scene in 2013 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis, making nine starts and winning at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in just his sixth start. He then climbed up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports and became the first rookie in series history to win the series championship in 2014. He ran one more season in Xfinity, finishing runner-up in the points in 2015 before moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2016 with Hendrick Motorsports.

 

Elliott has qualified for the Playoffs all seven seasons he has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, and this is the third straight season he has earned a spot in the Championship 4 Round (2020, 2021, 2022). Since running fulltime in the series, Elliott has made 256 starts putting up 18 wins, 86 top fives and 137 top 10s.

 

Mr. ‘Most Popular’ is looking to add to his championship resume

Embraced by the overwhelming cheers in his favor by the fans at the racetrack, there is no doubt Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular driver. The year-end award he has taken home for that special distinction the last four seasons is just confirmation on top of the songs of fans singing his praises on a weekly basis.

 

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Elliott, has been at the front of the field most of the season. He took the NASCAR Cup Series point standings lead following Atlanta and held it for 22 consecutive races. Elliott finished the regular season with four wins and took the Regular Season Championship for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old, Elliott, entered the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 40 Playoff points to his credit.

 

Unfortunately, a mid-race incident at Darlington Raceway to open the 2022 Playoffs relegated him to a 36th-place finish, but Elliott was quick to rebound, finishing 11th at Kansas and runner-up at Bristol to earn enough points to advance to the Round of 12.

 

Once again, Elliott was in an incident to start the Round of 12 at Texas finishing 34th, but the Georgia native reversed course at Talladega grabbing his fifth win of the season and securing his spot in the Round of 8. He would finish the Round of 12 with a 20th-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

 

Elliott then finished 21st at Las Vegas and 14th at Homestead-Miami in the Playoffs Round of 8. As a result, he was 11 points up on the Championship 4 cutoff heading into the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. Mr. ‘Most Popular’ then finished second in the first two stages and finished the race in 10th at Martinsville to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round for the third time in his career (2020-2022).

 

Through 35 races this season Chase Elliott has put up five wins, 12 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has led 857 laps and has an average finish of 12.0. He also has the series-best season-to-date driver rating (99.2) on the year.

 

Elliott’s prowess in the Valley of the Sun

For just the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history, Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to battle it out for the NASCAR Cup Series title. And the recent change could not have come at a better time for Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who has performed much better at Phoenix than the previous season finale venue Homestead-Miami Speedway, including winning the championship race in 2020 and taking the title.

 

Elliott has made 13 series starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one win (2020), five top fives, eight top 10s and a pole. His average finish at Phoenix is a strong 10.7, best among the 2022 Championship 4.

 

Elliott is also near the top of the charts in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 7.861, series-best, a Driver Rating of 109.9, second-best, 397 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best and 3,520 Laps in the Top 15 (86.4%), 10th-most.

 

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 19th and finished 11th.

 

Crew Chief Corner: Alan Gustafson  

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief in 2005, Alan Gustafson has proven that he is one of the best in the sport. Now, the 2020 series crew chief champion has the chance to become the 16th different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series to win multiple titles all-time. If Gustafson and the No. 9 team pull off the championship this weekend, Gustafson will also become just the second active crew chief with multiple Cup Series titles, joining Adam Stevens (2015, 2019).

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2019, '15

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

During his 18 seasons of full-time competition, Gustafson has worked with five different drivers: Kyle Busch (2005-2007), Casey Mears (2008), Mark Martin (2009, 2010), Jeff Gordon (2011-2015) and Chase Elliott (2016-Present). And during those 18 seasons he led his drivers to 15 Playoff appearances and to wins in 14 of the 18 seasons. This weekend at Phoenix will mark his fourth appearance in the Championship 4 Round, his first appearance was with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2015 when they finished the season third in points. In his other two appearances, he won the championship in 2020 and finished fourth in the final standings last season.

 

The Elliott-Gustafson pair has combined for the following achievements in 247 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2016:

 

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship (2020)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship (2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2021, 2022)
  • Seven consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2016-2022)
  • 18 wins
  • 84 top fives
  • 135 top 10s
  • 4,900 laps led
  • 12 poles

 

The two will look to capture their second NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Gustafson is one of 44 different crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series with a championship.

 

Adding to the historic legacy of Hendrick Motorsports

When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 14 championships among five different drivers – Kyle Larson (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

 

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 17 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR (14 in Cup and three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – 1997, 1999, 2001).

 

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995-98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997-98; Terry Labonte 1996) and then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006-2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 of the last 27 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995-2021), putting the team's title-winning percentage during that span at 51.8% - series-best.

 

The 2022 season is the organization’s 37th straight season with a victory; longest-ever streak by a team in the series and its 38th season overall with a win; the most-ever by a team in the series. And to top all of that, the organization is the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series with 291 total Cup wins.

 

The Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman put up 11 wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series and all four made the Playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Playoff race in each of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 55 postseason wins, most all-time.

 

Chase Elliott can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports this weekend by winning the title and extending the organization’s record in series driver championships, but the No. 9 team did not advance to the Championship 4 Round in the owners’ standings, but instead his teammate Kyle Larson’s No. 5 team earned the spot for Hendrick Motorsports this season. If Larson were to win the owners championship this season, it would be the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings since 1963 that the series has had a split driver and owner championship, and it would be just the third time it has occurred in the series all-time. The first time the series saw a split championship was in 1954, when Lee Petty won the drivers championship and Herb Thomas’ No. 92 team won the owners title. The second time it has happened was in 1963, when Joe Weatherly won the driver championship, and the No. 21 Wood Brother Racing team won the owner’s title.

 

In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 12 victories among seven different drivers.

 

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

 

Logano By The Numbers:

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins at Phoenix Raceway – most among Championship 4 

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022

5 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 – tied for series-most

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

7 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

10.4 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

13.1 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

13.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.8 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

15 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

16 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

26 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

94.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – second-best among Championship 4

89.5 – Season-to-date driver rating – sixth-best among active drivers this season

597 - Total number of laps led in the 2022 season

721 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

8,981 - Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (97.9%)

 

Logano has a chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Team Penske’s Joey Logano took home his first NASCAR Cup Series championship back in 2018 passing Martin Truex Jr. late in the season finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway to hoist the Bill France Cup trophy. Now, the Connecticut native has a chance to become just the second active driver with multiple series titles and the 17th all-time to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series championships.

 

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles

Driver

Years

1

7

Jimmie Johnson

2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06

   

Dale Earnhardt

1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80

   

Richard Petty

1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64

4

4

Jeff Gordon

2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95

5

3

Darrell Waltrip

1985, ‘82, ‘81

   

Cale Yarborough

1978, ‘77, ‘76

   

David Pearson

1969, ‘68, ‘66

   

Lee Petty

1959, ‘58, ‘54

   

Tony Stewart

2011, ‘05, ‘02

10

2

Kyle Busch

2019, '15

   

Terry Labonte

1996, ‘84

   

Ned Jarrett

1965, ‘61

   

Joe Weatherly

1963, ‘62

   

Buck Baker

1957, ‘56

   

Tim Flock

1955, ‘52

   

Herb Thomas

1953, ‘51

* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

 

Joey Logano started the 2022 season off fast with crew chief Paul Wolfe grabbing the points lead following the first race of the season at Phoenix back in March. He then collected his first win of the season at the historic Darlington Raceway, taking the checkered flag from the pole position. He grab his second win of the season at NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway. He finished the regular season with two wins, seven top fives and 12 top 10s entering the 2022 Playoffs as the second seed with 25 Playoffs points.

 

Logano and the No. 22 team’s path to the season finale at Phoenix

Team Penske’s Joey Logano has been a staple in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He has qualified for the Playoffs in nine of 14 seasons he has competed fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series, and since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014, Logano has made the Championship 4 Round a total of five times (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022) – tied for the series-most appearances with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

 

In the Round of 16, No. 22 team and driver Joey Logano put up a fourth-place finish at Darlington but then finished 17th at Kansas and 27th at Bristol due to a suspension failure forcing Logano to rely on his Playoff points to help him advance to the Round of 12. In the next round, Logano again started-off strong and faded. He finished runner-up to open the Round of 12 at Texas, but then followed it up with a 27th-place finish at Talladega and an 18th at the Charlotte Road Course scoring just enough points to advance. But all that changed when Logano jumped to the front of the Playoff field with a win in the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas earning the first spot in the Championship 4 Round this season. Logano has been on cruise control ever since, finishing 18th at Homestead-Miami and sixth last week at Martinsville.

 

Logano’s time to shine in the Valley of the Sun

Of the four drivers vying for the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Team Penske Joey Logano has to be the most thrilled it will be decided on the one-mile oval in the Valley of the Sun, as he has the most experience at the one-mile track (27 starts) and the most wins (two) among the Championship 4.

 

In total, Logano has made 27 series starts at Phoenix posting two wins (2016, 2020), seven top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish is 13.1, seventh-best in the series, and second among the Championship 4.

 

Expect Logano to be in the mix this weekend at Phoenix, he is ranked in the top 10 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 11.287, seventh-best, a Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best, 304 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best and 6,202 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6%), sixth-most.

 

Crew Chief Corner: The Wolfe in the room 

Paul Wolfe won Team Penske’s first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and now the veteran crew chief has a chance at becoming just the second active crew chief with more than one series title and the 16th different crew chief with multiple Cup championships. 

 

 

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)

Rank

No. of Titles 

Crew Chiefs

Years

1

8

Dale Inman

1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '84

2

7

Chad Knaus

2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16

3

4

Kirk Shelmerdine

1986, '87, '90, '91

4

3

Ray Evernham

1995, '97, '98

   

Bud Moore

1957, '62, '63

   

Lee Petty 

1954, '58, '59

7

2

Adam Stevens

2015, '19

   

Greg Zipadelli

2002, '05

   

Andy Petree

1993, '94

   

Jeff Hammond

1982, '85

   

Tim Brewer

1978, '81

   

Herb Nab

1976, '77

   

Jake Elder

1968, '69

   

Carl Kiekhaefer

1955, '56

   

Smokey Yunick

1951, '53

* 15 total NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

 

Before becoming a crew chief, Paul Wolfe competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driving for

car owners Ray Evernham, Armando Fitz, Tommy Baldwin Jr. and Eddie D’Hondt from

2003 – 2005. Wolfe’s first NASCAR crew chief opportunity came at Fitz Bradshaw Racing in 2006. He then moved to Braun Racing in 2008 and then CJM Racing in 2009 before settling at Team Penske in 2010. 

 

In 2010, Wolfe led Brad Keselowski to the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after posting six wins on the season. In 2011 the duo made the leap to the NASCAR Cup Series and in just their second season together in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012), he led Brad Keselowski to the series championship, becoming the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win a NASCAR Cup Series and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship as the duo posted five wins in 2012 in the Cup Series.

 

From 2011-2019, Keselowski and Wolfe put up 29 wins, 110 top fives and 175 top 10s. The in 2020, Wolfe joined Joey Logano and the No. 22 team and has not missed a beat. Since joining forces, Logano and Wolfe have made 106 start together in the NASCAR Cup Series amassing seven wins, 31 top fives and 51 top 10s. they have qualified for the Playoffs all three seasons of working together and have made the Championship 4 Round twice (2020, 2022).

 

The Logano-Wolfe pair has combined for the following achievements in 106 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2020:

 

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2020-2022)
  • 7 wins
  • 31 top fives
  • 51 top 10s
  • 1,989 laps led
  • 3 poles

 

If Wolfe wins the title with Logano this weekend, he will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with championships with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

 

Team Penske’s chance at a third title

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 is comprised of four drivers from four different organizations – Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Team Penske – making this season’s Championship Race one for the ages.

 

Team Penske last won at Phoenix Raceway in the spring of 2020, but the organization has a total of three wins at the one-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series – Rusty Wallace (1998), Joey Logano (2016 and 2020).

 

Team Penske is currently tied with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing for the sixth most NASCAR Cup Series championships in the Modern Era (1972-Present) at two each. Team Penske scored its first NASCAR Cup Series championship with driver Brad Keselowski in 2012 and its second with driver Joey Logano in 2018. If Team Penske accomplishes the feat of winning the championship this weekend, they would break the tie with RFK Racing and SHR and become the organization solely in the sixth position among championships with three just behind Petty Enterprises with four (in the Modern Era).

 

In total, Team Penske has eight NASCAR national series owner championships – two in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012, 2018) and six in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021).

 


NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

The Stage Is Set: NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 are locked in

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here – Championship Weekend. The NASCAR Xfinity Series wrapped up the Round of 8 last weekend at Martinsville Speedway and will now be heading to Phoenix Raceway to determine this year’s Xfinity Series champion. Four drivers – Noah Gragson, Josh Berry, Ty Gibbs and Justin Allgaier - will vie for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in the Championship Race on Saturday. November 5 at 6 p.m. ET on the USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). All four drivers are looking for their first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

 

In total, there have been 41 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Phoenix Raceway, producing 22 different race winners and 21 different pole winners. William Byron became the track’s youngest winner when he snagged the checkered flag in November of 2017 at 19 years, 10 months and 13 days old. Greg Biffle sits as the track’s oldest winner when he made the trip to Victory Lane in 2009 at 39 years, three months and 25 days old.

 

Kyle Busch has etched his name in the track’s record books, holding the record for most poles (10), wins (11), top 10s (20), lead lap finishes (23), and laps led (2,234). He also is tied for most top fives with Kevin Harvick at 17 each and holds the qualifying record at 138.504 mph.

 

This season marks the third time that Phoenix Raceway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race (2020-2022). From 2016 to 2019, the Playoffs’ season finale was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway before it was moved to Phoenix in 2020. Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2016 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, five of the six winners of the Championship Race have also claimed the championship that season – Daniel Suarez (2016), Tyler Reddick (2018, 2019), Austin Cindric (2020) and Daniel Hemric (2021).

 

Track

Championship Race Winners

Date

Race No.

Homestead

Daniel Suarez

Saturday, November 19, 2016

33

Homestead

Cole Custer

Saturday, November 18, 2017

33

Homestead

Tyler Reddick

Saturday, November 17, 2018

33

Homestead

Tyler Reddick

Saturday, November 16, 2019

33

Phoenix

Austin Cindric

Saturday, November 7, 2020

33

Phoenix

Daniel Hemric

Saturday, November 6, 2021

33

 

Drivers will hit the track for their last practice of the season at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 4 on the USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports App. Qualifying will be the next day on Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET only on the NBC Sports App.

 

Meet the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 contenders

The field is set and the four drivers competing for the 2022 title at Phoenix Raceway this weekend are JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs.

 

Let’s take a closer look into these drivers’ careers and what brought them to the Championship 4 Round this season.

 

Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

 

Gragson has had a stand-out season, posting eight wins (Phoenix, Talladega, Pocono, Darlington, Kansas, Bristol, Texas, Homestead), 20 top fives and 25 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 975 laps and has maintained an average start of 7.0 and an average finish of 8.3. In addition, Gragson has posted solid season-to-date loop statistics, including a driver rating of 114.0 (series best) an average running position of 7.253 (series best) and a total of 492 fastest laps run (second-best).

 

Playoff Recap: Gragson has had a strong Playoff run this season, having finished inside the top-10 in all six Playoff races. He kicked off the Round of 12 with a win at Texas, followed by a 10th-place finish at Talladega and a third-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course. In the Round of 8, he had a runner-up finish at Las Vegas, followed by a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round and then a fourth-place finish at Martinsville last weekend.

 

The 2022 season marks his fourth Xfinity Playoff appearance (2019-2022). This will be the second time he has competed in the Championship 4 Round (2021,2022). His first stint was last season where he finished the race in the 12th position, putting him in third in the 2021 final championship standings.

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet is no stranger to Phoenix Raceway. In his seven starts, he’s posted one win (2022), two top fives and four top 10s.

 

Crew Chief Corner - Luke Lambert: Lambert is in his first full-time season with Gragson but had one full-time Xfinity Series season with Elliott Sadler in 2012 and has 10 years of Cup Series experience. In his 65 Xfinity Series starts, he’s led his teams to 12 wins, 35 top fives and 49 top 10s.

 

Ty Gibbs (No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

 

Gibbs came into his first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a bang, posting six wins (Las Vegas, Atlanta, Richmond, Road America, Michigan, Martinsville), 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 865 laps and has managed an average start of 5.6 and an average finish of 9.4. Gibbs has also put up great season-to-date stats, including a driver rating of 112.2 (second-best), an average running position of 8.351 (third-best) and a total of 532 fastest laps run (series best).

 

Playoff Recap: Gibbs has had a great run in his first-ever Xfinity Series Playoffs. He started with a third-place finish at Texas and a seventh-place finish at Talladega, followed by a runner-up finish at the Charlotte Road Course to close out the Round of 12. To kick off the Round of 8, he finished fourth at Las Vegas, runner-up at Homestead and made the trip to Victory Lane in the last race of the Round of 8 at Martinsville to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round.

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has only two starts at the one-mile Phoenix track. He posted a runner-up finish last season in his Xfinity Series Phoenix Raceway debut and finished sixth earlier this season.

 

Crew Chief Corner – Chris Gayle: Although this is Gibbs and Gayle’s first full-time season together, they know each other on the track quite well. Last season when Gibbs ran a part-time schedule, Gayle was called to be his crew chief.

 

Gayle has both Cup and Xfinity Series experience. He spent five years in the Cup Series, four of those seasons with Erik Jones (2017-2020). In the Xfinity Series, he’s had 197 starts over the span of six years posting 36 wins, 83 top fives and 132 top 10s.

 

Josh Berry (No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

 

Berry has had an impressive season with his three wins (Dover, Charlotte, Las Vegas) 11 top fives and 20 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 356 laps and has managed an average start of 9.4 and an average finish of 10.7. He’s posted positive numbers in season-to-date loop data statistics, including a driver rating of 96.3 (fifth-best), an average running position of 10.671 (seventh-best) and a total of 285 fastest laps run (fourth-best).

 

Playoff Recap: Berry had a great start to the Playoffs, posting a sixth-place finish at Texas, a fifth-place finish at Talladega and an eighth-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course. He clinched his way into the Championship 4 with a win in the first race in the Round of 8 (Las Vegas), followed by an eleventh-place finish at Homestead and a 20th-place finish at Martinsville. The 2022 season marks his first Playoff appearance in the Xfinity Series.

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet only has two starts at Phoenix Raceway. Last season, he fell victim to a crash and finished 36th but redeemed himself earlier this season with a third-place finish when the Xfinity Series ran there in March.

 

Crew Chief Corner – Mike Bumgarner: Bumgarner is in his first full-time season with Berry and the No. 8 team. In his seven years and 129 starts in the Xfinity Series, he’s helped his teams to eight wins, 38 top fives and 72 top 10s.

 

He also has a few Cup Series races under his belt, having ran with Terry Labonte in 2004 and 2006 for select races.

 

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

 

Allgaier could consider himself a Xfinity Series veteran, having competed in the Playoffs every year since its inception in 2016. He’s had a great season, racking up three wins (Darlington, Nashville, New Hampshire), 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 737 laps this season and has managed an average start of 8.9 and an average finish of 10.8. In addition, his season-to-date loop data statistics look great, including a driver rating of 105.2 (fourth-best), an average running position of 8.656 (fourth-best) and a total of 434 fastest laps run (third-best).

 

Playoff Recap: Allgaier had a rough start in the Round of 12, posting a 29th-place finish in Texas, a 15th-place finish in Talladega and a fifth-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course to advance to the Round of 8. But things really turned around in the Round of 8 for Berry, when he posted a third-place finish in Las Vegas, a 10th-place finish at Homestead-Miami and a fifth-place finish in Martinsville, where he clinched his spot in the Championship 4 on points.

 

Allgaier is the only driver in the Xfinity Series to make an appearance in all seven Playoffs since 2016. He’s appeared in the Champ 4 a series leading five times.

 

Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet has loads of experience on the one-mile Phoenix track. In his 24 starts, he’s posted two wins (2017, 2019), eight top fives and 16 top 10s, and he holds the record for most laps completed at 4,815.

 

Crew Chief – Jason Burdett:  Burdett has been with Allgaier for seven of the eight years he’s been a crew chief in the Xfinity Series. Together, they have 226 starts, 16 wins, 98 top fives and 156 top 10s.

 

Burdett had one stint in the Cup Series in 2007 with Dale Jarrett (14 races).

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – The only rookie who made it in the 2022 Playoffs, Austin Hill continues to lead the Sunoco Xfinity Series rookie class with 2,245 points. Richard Childress Racing teammate Sheldon Creed slides in next with 713 points.

 

Kyle Sieg sits in third with 182 points and Jesse Iwuji takes the final rookie spot with 94 points.

 

Garrett Smithley to compete with BJ McLeod Motorsports in 2023 – Garrett Smithley will be running a full-time season with BJMM behind the wheel of the No. 78 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2023.

 

Smithley has been a full-time NASCAR driver since 2015. He’s made 200+ starts across NASCAR’s national series and has put up some great finishes, including a top-five finish in Daytona in 2018 and a top-10 finish at Talladega that same year.

 

“I’ve raced with Garrett (Smithley) for several years now, and respect his path, talent and passion,” said BJ McLeod. “I often tell people that he has “made it,” and most people do not understand what I mean by that. His story is truly one of hard work, passion and talent. The ability Garrett has shown behind the wheel for several years including racing around me is something that I wish more people had a front row seat like I have. Jessica (McLeod) and I are so honored to have Garrett represent and drive for us. The future is bright.”


Championship 4 Media Day Truck Series Feature

 

November 3, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

Ben Rhodes takes an “Old Fashioned” approach to possible second Truck title

 

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Ben Rhodes is superstitious about being in the same room as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trophy.

 

The Kentuckian has an Old Fashioned named after him in The Barn at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Rhodes mentioned both Seneca and Pythagoras in his Championship 4 Media Day interview at the Phoenix Convention Center.

 

And—oh, yes—he’s the defending series champion—without much credit in the eyes of handicappers for winning the title last year.

 

Among the Championship 4 drivers, Rhodes is the clear long shot. First-time qualifier Chandler Smith is the oddsmakers’ favorite, having won the 2021 season finale as Rhodes was wrapping up the championship with a third-place run.

 

Rhodes doesn’t mind that the bookies aren’t sanguine about his chances. With a sixth-place finish on Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he made the Championship 4 by one point over Stewart Friesen.

 

But Rhodes feels the trial by fire might help him—hence, the quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca.

 

“I believe this is a quote from Seneca, and I’m going to paraphrase a little bit, but ‘The road to greatness is always rough,’” Rhodes said. “It feels like every season in the Playoffs—I can only think of one time that we were able to just kind of coast through to the next round.

 

“For the most part, it’s fighting tooth-and-nail just to get ourselves into that spot to transfer. Here’s the tiebreaker. Here’s one point. Here’s four points. It’s not easy to do that. It’s very easy to make mistakes in high-pressure situations. So, I think the fact that we had to be forged in fire has already given us a little bit of an advantage.”

 

Rhodes acknowledges that ThorSport Racing teammate Ty Majeski has momentum on his side, having won two of the last three races. But Rhodes hasn’t lost his hunger for a second championship. Teammate Matt Crafton is the only driver in series history to win back-to-back titles, a feat he accomplished in 2013 and 2014.

 

Hence, the Pythagoras reference. 

 

“I believe there’s a cup called the Pythagoras Cup,” Rhodes said. “When the Cup gets full, it drains itself back out. That’s kind of what the championship felt like last year. We won it—I’ve never experienced such happiness and true emotion in racing before. It felt like it was so long to get to this point.

 

“Now I feel like I can’t live without it. My cup’s empty again. I’ve got to fill it.”

 

Rhodes, who was in his cups for last year’s post-race press conference, promised another memorable celebration if he wins a second title.

 

“We have Ben Rhodes Old Fashioneds now served at The Barn,” Rhodes said. “I don’t know how they’re concocting them, because I made mine my way. Hopefully, they‘re following that recipe. 

 

“That was the whole story. I went out there last year, and they didn’t have an Old Fashioned. I’m from Kentucky—ain’t no bourbon. So, they’ve got it now. Now I just have to perform—150 laps to make it to The Barn. 

 

“And you’re going to see something epic.” 

 


 

 

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to name a champion in Phoenix

After a week to get their trucks ready for Championship Weekend, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers are gearing up for the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, Nov. 4 at 10 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to decide who of the Championship 4 contenders – Ty Majeski, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes and Chandler Smith – will finish the highest this weekend and win the 2022 title.

 

Phoenix Raceway has hosted 31 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races producing 21 different race winners and just as many pole winners. Seven of the 31 series races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Chandler Smith in 2021.

 

Kevin Harvick holds the race record at 108.014 mph, a feat he accomplished in 2002, and also has the most wins under his belt (four). Ron Hornady Jr. has the most top fives (10) and top 10s (13) while three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton sits with the most lead lap finishes (18) and laps completed (3,097).

 

The 2022 season will mark the third time (2020-2022) that Phoenix Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship Race (Lucas Oil 150). From 2016 to 2019, the Playoffs’ season finale was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway before it was moved to Phoenix in 2020. Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2016 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, two of the six winners of the Championship Race have also claimed the championship that season – Brett Moffitt (2018) and Sheldon Creed (2020).

 

Track

Championship Race Winners

Date

Race No.

Homestead

William Byron

Friday, November 18, 2016

23

Homestead

Chase Briscoe

Friday, November 17, 2017

23

Homestead

Brett Moffitt

Friday, November 16, 2018

23

Homestead

Austin Hill

Friday, November 15, 2019

23

Phoenix

Sheldon Creed

Friday, November 6, 2020

23

Phoenix

Chandler Smith

Friday, November 5, 2021

22

 

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will kick off the Championship Weekend with practice at 8:05 p.m. on Thursday, Nov.3 (not televised). They will make their qualifying runs on Friday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. ET on FS1.

 

The Stage Is Set: Phoenix Raceway up next for the Championship 4 Round

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series concluded the Playoffs Round of 8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 22 and locked in the four drivers that will compete to take home the title and be named the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

 

With another win by ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski at Homestead-Miami, the remaining spots were filled on points. The three drivers joining Majeski at Phoenix Raceway will be Front Row Motorsports’ Zane Smith, Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Chandler Smith and ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes.

 

All four drivers have given the one-mile Arizona track a go at least once so let’s dive into how these four drivers have done in their Camping World Truck Series careers to get them to this point.

 

Ty Majeski (No. 66 ThorSport Racing Toyota) 

 

Ty Majeski heads to Phoenix Raceway this week to make his first career appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round. Majeski is looking to become the third different driver to win a Camping World Truck Series title for ThorSport Racing joining Matt Crafton’s three (2013, 2014, 2019) and Ben Rhodes’ one (2021). Below are Majeski’s stats heading into Phoenix this weekend.

 

2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Stats:

  • Two wins (Bristol, Homestead)
  • 10 top fives, 15 top 10s, three poles
  • 306 laps led
  • Average start – 7.8
  • Average finish – 9.6

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Career (2019 – Present):

  • 42 starts, two wins, 10 top fives, 20 top 10s
  • 306 laps led
  • Average start – 11.4
  • Average finish – 13.4

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Stats (2022):

  • Two Playoff wins (Bristol and Homestead-Miami)
  • Six starts, three top fives and five top 10s

 

Phoenix Raceway Stats:

  • One start, 11th-place finish

 

Crew Chief Joe Shear Jr.:

Joe Shear Jr. has crew chief experience dating back to 1995 and has made a mark in all three NASCAR national series. He first began as a crew chief in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 1998, and since has made 330 total series starts winning the 2016 championship with driver Johnny Sauter. Plus, over the last 18 years in those 330 starts, he has posted 26 wins, 108 top fives, 174 top 10s and 14 poles.

 

This is his first full time season with Majeski, but he did have a one-off race with him during the 2021 season as well. The duo have combined to put up two wins, 10 top fives and 15 top 10s in 23 series starts.

 

Zane Smith (No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford)

 

Zane Smith heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend hoping the third-time is ‘the charm’ as he will be competing in the Championship 4 Round for the third consecutive season, the previous two have resulted in runner-up finishes in the championship standings. Smith is hoping to deliver Front Row Motorsports its first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title. Below are Smith’s stats heading into Phoenix this weekend.

 

2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Stats:

  • Three wins (Daytona, COTA, Kansas)
  • 13 top fives, 18 top 10s
  • 415 laps led
  • Average start – 10.1
  • Average finish – 8.0

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Career (2018 – Present):

  • 68 starts, six wins, 24 top fives, 46 top 10s
  • 922 laps led
  • Average start – 8.7
  • Average finish – 10.4

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Stats (2020 – 2022):

  • One Playoff win (Martinsville, 2021)
  • 20 starts, nine top fives, 13 top 10s

 

Phoenix Raceway Stats:

  • Two starts, two top fives, two top 10s
  • 48 laps led
  • Average start – 7.5
  • Average finish – 3.5

 

Crew Chief Chris Lawson:

Chris Lawson has five years of experience in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is in his first full-time season with driver Zane Smith and his third with No. 38 Front Row Motorsports team.

 

In his 81 career starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Lawson has led two drivers to wins (Todd Gilliland, COTA 2021 and Zane Smith, Daytona, COTA 2022, Kansas). His teams have also finished in the top-five 26 times and the top-10 45 times.

 

Ben Rhodes (No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota) 

 

Ben Rhodes, the defending series champion, will have his chance at becoming just the second driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to win back-to-back championships; joining his other ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton (2013, 2014) this weekend at Phoenix. This is just the second-time he has qualified for the Championship 4 Round in the series. Below are Rhodes’ stats heading into Phoenix this weekend.

 

2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Stats:

  • One win (Bristol Dirt)
  • Seven top fives, 12 top 10s
  • 263 laps led
  • Average start – 11.2
  • Average finish – 12.1

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Career (2014- Present):

  • 163 starts, six wins, 48 top fives, 88 top 10s, five poles
  • 1,098 laps led
  • Average start – 9.0
  • Average finish – 11.6

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Stats (2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022):

  • One Playoff win (Las Vegas, 2020)
  • 34 starts, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s, two poles

 

Phoenix Raceway Stats:

  • Seven starts, three top fives, four top 10s
  • 48 laps led
  • Average start – 5.1
  • Average finish – 9.3

 

Crew Chief Rich Lushes:

Rich Lushes got his first start as crew chief in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016 when he ran one race with driver Ryan Truex. Lushes then ran a full-time season with Myatt Snider in 2018 before joining Rhodes and the No. 99 ThorSport Racing team full-time in 2021. In the first full season together, Rhodes and Lushes won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title and are now looking to go back-to-back.

 

In his five years in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a crew chief, Lushes has made 70 starts posting three wins, 18 top fives and 36 top 10s.

 

Chandler Smith (No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota) 

 

Chandler Smith heads to Phoenix this weekend with a mountain of confidence because he won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale last season but was eliminated from the Playoffs in the Round of 8. This season, for the first-time in his Truck Series career he has a shot at the title. Below are Smith’s stats heading into Phoenix this weekend.

 

2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Season Stats:

  • Three wins (Las Vegas, Pocono, Richmond)
  • Eight top fives, 15 top 10s
  • 440 laps led
  • Average start – 7.3
  • Average finish – 9.0

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Career (2019 – Present):

  • 60 starts, five wins, 22 top fives, 33 top 10s, one pole (2021)
  • 746 laps led
  • Average start – 8.9
  • Average finish – 12.8

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Stats (2021 – 2022):

  • Three Playoff wins (Bristol, Phoenix – 2021 & Richmond – 2022)
  • 13 starts, four top fives and eight top 10s

 

Phoenix Raceway Stats:

  • Three starts, one win (2021), three top fives, three top 10s
  • 40 laps led
  • Average start – 9.3
  • Average finish – 2.3

 

Crew Chief Danny Stockman Jr.:

Danny Stockman Jr. has made his way around NASCAR, having experience in all three national series. He first joined the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2010 leading driver Austin Dillon. The dup would win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2011. Stockman also led Dillon to a NASCAR Xfinity Series title in 2013. Stockman joined Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2020 collaborating with several drivers on the No. 51 team. Then he switched to No. 18 team in 2021 and has worked fulltime with Chandler Smith ever since.

 

In Stockman’s 115 Camping World Truck Series starts as a crew chief, he has posted 13 wins, 41 top fives, 66 top 10s and 14 poles.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year update – Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Corey Heim leads the rookie class with 459 points. Coming in second is Niece Motorsports’ Lawless Alan with 275 points followed by GMS Racing’s Jack Wood with 271 points. In fourth is Niece Motorsports’ Dean Thompson with 263 points and closing out the rookie class is Blaine Perkins from CR7 Motorsports with 191 points.

 

2022 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion Layne Riggs back in Trucks – The youngest NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion in series history, Layne Riggs, will be making his third start of the 2022 season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Phoenix Raceway piloting the No. 62 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota.

 

 

Layne Riggs is the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Scott Riggs. Layne Riggs has two previous Camping World Truck Series starts this season, both for Halmar Friesen Racing. In his series debut at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, he started 23rd and raced his way up to a seventh-place finish. Then in his second career start in the Trucks at Richmond, he started fourth and finished 19th.

 

Riggs will look to build on his first two starts in his series track debut at Phoenix this weekend.


Championship Weekend Preview: Phoenix Raceway

 

November 2, 2022

 

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

 

NASCAR Cup drivers gear up for highly anticipated Championship 4 race at Phoenix

 

PHOENIX, AZ – Will lightning strike three times for Christopher Bell?

 

Can Ross Chastain parlay his amazing Martinsville rim ride into a championship for upstart Trackhouse Racing? 

 

Will the NASCAR Cup Series feature more than one active multiple champion for the first time since Jimmie Johnson retired after the 2020 season?

 

Those questions will be answered on Sunday when the four eligible drivers—Bell, Chastain, 2018 champion Joey Logano and 2020 champion Chase Elliott—race for the title in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship event at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

The season finale arrives with the sport still buzzing from the improbable events in last Sunday’s Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville. As he had done in the Round of 12, Christopher Bell converted a must-win opportunity to advance in the Playoffs, this time to the Championship 4.

 

On the final lap of the Martinsville event, Chastain, against all odds, floored his No. 1 Chevrolet and rode the wall through Turns 3 and 4 to steal a Playoff spot from Denny Hamlin, who lost a chance to compete in the Championship 4 a fourth straight time.

 

Chastain said he would have preferred to come to Phoenix with less fanfare, even though the move he pulled off at Martinsville is certain to be an indelible moment in NASCAR lore. 

 

“I wish I would've had five more points throughout the Playoffs, and I could've just cruised in 10th and been out of sight, out of mind, and no one was the wiser that we made it, except us,” Chastain said. “Those weren't the cards we were dealt though. 

 

“This means the world. This is a life achievement, a career achievement—this is what we work for and dream about. Just getting the opportunity is all I could ever ask for. Then to do it, make the decision I did down the backstretch is wild enough. The fact that it worked is truly unbelievable. I still watch the video, and it doesn't look real.”

 

If Chastain defied the odds in the microcosm of one lap at Martinsville, Bell did so on a grander scale with his victories in the Round of 12 and Round of 8 elimination races. Like Chastain, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will be competing in the Championship 4 for the first time.

 

“When you get to this and you think about who's sitting there, who he's going to have to race against, those three other competitors from great organizations, I think it's going to be extremely hard,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a Tuesday video conference with reporters.

 

“I think the way our Playoffs are designed, it does bring a lot of excitement to it, every three races, dropping out four cars. Now we're down to just four.”

 

Of the Championship 4 drivers, Logano boasts the most appearances in the title race—five, tied for series-best. His two victories at Phoenix Raceway also are tops among the championship-eligible drivers.

 

Elliott, on the other hand, won his championship at Phoenix and has that experience in his memory banks, whereas Logano claimed his title when the season finale was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Kyle Busch is the only active driver with more than one Cup title, having won in 2015 and 2019.

 

Team owner Rick Hendrick actually has two cars competing for championships—Elliott for the drivers’ title and Kyle Larson for the owners’ crown in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

 

“I think Sunday could be… just like always, a pit stop, somebody hits the air pressures right, cautions fall at the right time,” Hendrick said. “You just have to run it and see how it ends up.

 

“But there are four really, really good drivers in that race. You know, it's just going to be hard to pick a winner in there. Of course, I hope our guys are the ones that win it. But it's going to be a good show. It's going to be a hard-fought show.”

 

JR Motorsports brings its armada to NASCAR Xfinity championship battle

 

It’s only fitting that three of the four drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 should be racing under the JR Motorsports banner.

 

After all, the organization co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller has dominated the season entering Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship event (6 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

 

All told, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry have combined to win 14 races this year—Gragson with a series-best eight victories and Allgaier and Berry with three each. They will race for the series title against Ty Gibbs, who wrecked Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones on the final lap of last Saturday’s race at Martinsville and knocked Jones out of a Playoff spot.

 

Based on his record, Gragson enters the Championship 4 race as a heavy favorite. He has finished inside the top-10 in each of the six Playoff races so far, with wins at Texas and Homestead-Miami. He picked up his first victory of the season at Phoenix in March.

 

“Winning the championship has been our goal all year long, and we won at Phoenix in the spring,” Gragson said. “This weekend, it’s for all the marbles, and this team is at its best when something big is on the line. 

 

“It’s been a great season for all of us on the No. 9 and for JR Motorsports, so the way to close it out is to win and bring a championship home with us.”

 

Ben Rhodes seeks second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title

 

ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes hasn’t been front-and-center lately, but runner-up finishes in each of the first two rounds of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Talladega Superspeedway, respectively) were enough to propel him into Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 title event at Phoenix Raceway (10 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Accordingly, Rhodes will try to defend the championship he won with a third-place finish in last year’s title race at Phoenix. If he’s successful, Rhodes will be the second driver to win back-to-back championships in the division. Teammate Matt Crafton (2013-2014) is the only driver to have accomplished the feat so far.

 

Rhodes claimed his only victory of the season on the Bristol Dirt Track in April. Teammate Ty Majeski, on the other hand, arrives at Phoenix with considerably more momentum, having won two of the last three races, at Bristol (pavement) and Homestead-Miami. 

 

In the title race, the ThorSport Racing drivers will face off against two Smiths—Zane and Chandler (no relation).

 

Zane Smith will be trying to break out of the runner-up rut on Friday. He has finished second in the final Camping World Truck Series standings for two straight seasons, he enters the Phoenix race second in points, and he has collected five second-place finishes without a win in his last 11 Truck Series starts.

 

Both Smiths have posted three victories this season. Though he didn’t qualify for the Championship 4 last season, Chandler won the season finale at Phoenix from the pole.

 

“I feel like last year, the last three quarters of last year, we showed what we were going to have in store for this year,” Chandler said. “We were really good at the end of last year—started getting wins and running up front every single week and were the truck to beat almost every other week—where the year before we were hit-or-miss. 

 

“We ended up getting our stuff together, we were more consistent, winning races and I told the guys next year we are out for blood—we’re going to go get them next year. And look, we’re sitting here talking about running for a championship, and it has just been an amazing experience.”

 

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: NASCAR Cup Series Championship

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Sunday, November 6

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $10,542,284

TV: NBC, 1:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Saturday, November 5

The Time: 6 p.m. ET

The Purse: $1,645,625

TV: USA, 5:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                  

Distance: 200 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Lucas Oil 150

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Friday, November 4

The Time: 10 p.m. ET

The Purse: $817,025

TV: FS1, 9 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio                  

Distance: 150 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

 

 

 

 

 
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