Championship 4 is in and now only this year’s NASCAR Cup Series title winner remains to be crowned.
Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain are ready to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway in the desert Sunday afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). to fight. .
Get ready for the title weekend with everything you need to know below:
RELATED: Weekend Schedule | Cup Series Ranking
PRACTICE CREATES MASTERS
Unlike most weekends in the 2022 Cup schedule, teams will have a full 50-minute practice session on Friday night (8:05 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN). The session is open to all entries and teams are allowed to work on their cars before qualifying.
Qualifying to determine the starting grid will take place Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Championship 4 drivers and teams will be ranked by their previous race metrics and assigned to Groups A or B by standard odd/even metric procedures. Playoff teams will be the last cars to qualify in their respective groups.
This week, Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain are the last qualifiers in Group A. Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell qualify last in Group B. Each driver completes a timed lap during their time trial. The fastest five riders from each group advance to the final qualifying round where these 10 riders take another route to compete for the Busch Light Pole Award. The driver who sets the fastest lap in the session starts first on Sunday.
MORE: Color Scheme Preview | Qualifying Order
PHOENIX STORY LINES
— Four different organizations are represented in Championship 4 for the first time since 2018. This is the fifth time since the elimination format was introduced in 2014. Joey Logano is representing Team Penske; Christopher Bell representing Joe Gibbs Racing; Chase Elliott represents Hendrick Motorsports; and Ross Chastain represents Trackhouse Racing.
— The average age of the Championship 2022 4 is 29 years, 3 months, 19 days – the youngest ever.
— The top four drivers on average for the 2022 season are the Championship 4 drivers.
— Kyle Larson’s Homestead Miami win propelled the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team into Championship 4 for the Owners’ Championship. Only twice in the Cup has there been a separate Owners’ Champion and Drivers’ Champion: in 1963 Joe Weatherly won the Drivers’ title and Wood Brothers won the Owners’ Championship; In 1954, Lee Petty won the drivers’ championship and Herb Thomas won the owners’ championship.
– Logano (2018) and Elliott (2020) are each aiming for their second Career Cup titles, while Bell and Chastain each have their sights set on their first.
— 19 different drivers have won this year, the most ever.
– Christopher Bell’s victory at Martinsville was also Joe Gibbs Racing’s 200th win, making it the third organization to have at least 200 wins.
– Three of the last six champions have won the opening round of 16 race, including Joey Logano in 2018. Logano won this year’s round of 16 opener in Las Vegas.
— Chastain advanced to Championship 4 for the first time in his career and led Trackhouse Racing there for the first time. This is Trackhouse Racing’s second season and has both drivers locked into the playoffs (Chastain, Daniel Suárez).
Source: Racing Insights
GOOD YEAR TIRES
Teams will have familiar tires to work with in the Arizona desert on Sunday.
Goodyear returns to the 1-mile Tri-Oval with the same tire setup used in the Next Gen’s first Phoenix race in March. Since then, teams have also used these tires at Richmond, Worldwide Technology Raceway and New Hampshire. Two of this year’s Championship 4 contenders have already won with this Goodyear configuration – Joey Logano was victorious at WWT Raceway and Christopher Bell won in New Hampshire.
“This is an important weekend for the sport as we crown our champions of 2022,” said Goodyear race director Greg Stucker. “We’ve had an exciting season in the Cup Series with the launch of the next-gen car. As always, the learning curve is steep with a new car and teams work hard to improve their performance as the season progresses.
“After an organizational test on the track in January and a race in March, we got going pretty quickly in Phoenix. Cup teams that came back with the same tire setup for four more races at three different tracks in spring and summer were able to eliminate this variable when developing their car setups. Everyone should know what to expect from this tire setup and that will help teams prepare for the championship weekend.”
— Phoenix Raceway opened in 1964 with hopes of becoming a western beacon of open-wheel racing and held its first race on a street course layout. AJ Foyt won the track’s first oval race in March 1964.
— Richard Petty won the venue’s first NASCAR-sanctioned event, a win in the Winston West Series in 1978.
– In 1988, three years after Buddy Jobe bought the track from Dennis Wood, Phoenix hosted its first Cup Series event, which was won on November 6th by Alan Kulwicki, who celebrated with the first “Polish Victory Round” by going into the opposite direction drove track.
— The International Speedway Corporation bought Phoenix in 1997.
— The track was first reconfigured and repaved in 2011, widening what was then the front track by 10 feet, while the dogleg of the back track was lengthened by 95 feet and its radius narrowed. Progressive Banking was also added in Rounds 1 and 2.
— The track was reconfigured and renovated again in 2018 as part of a $178 million project that saw the start/finish line moved to the exit of the former Turn 2. Improvements have been made to provide a new pedestrian tunnel and upgrade the Media Center, Victory Lane and Garage area.
– Sunday marks the 53rd race in Phoenix and the third championship race, with the first taking place in 2020.
Source: Racing Insights
BET ON THE HOUSE?
Since the elimination format was introduced in 2014, the champion has won the season finale, a streak that has lasted eight years.
Of course, this year’s Championship 4 are also the favorites to win this year’s race in Phoenix. Chase Elliott is the tentative favorite at odds of 5-2 according to BetMGM. Elliott, who won a streak high of five races in 2022, leads the league in average finish (12.0) and drove to the 2020 championship in Phoenix. Hendrick Motorsports has won each of the two title races in Phoenix.
Behind Elliott on the odds board is Christopher Bell at odds of 13-4 (+325). Bell is a four-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, but nobody was more clutch in the 2022 season than Bell. The JGR third-year driver found himself in must-win situations to get out of the round of 16 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway street course and again in the round of 16 at Martinsville Speedway, delivering both times. Consider that he won the 1-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway on this tire package, and Bell might prove to be a wise choice.
Joey Logano and Ross Chastain are sitting at odds of 4:1. The duo are on opposite ends of the spectrum – Logano was the earliest to lock himself into the Championship 4 thanks to his win in Vegas, while Chastain needed a desperate Hail Mary in the final corners of Martinsville to get past Denny Hamlin and into the Championship advance championship round. Logano’s advantage is that his No. 22 team had ample time to prepare for Phoenix. But Chastain has proven he’s never out of his depth this year with 14 top-five finishes on the series.
MORE: Full odds list for Sunday
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ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
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