One Race Remains in the NASCAR Playoffs to Decide the 2023 Cup Series Champion

The 2023 Championship 4 (L-R) William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney
The 2023 Championship 4 (L-R) William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney (Photo courtesy of

There have been 35 races to decide which four drivers will have a chance this weekend at becoming the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Champion at Phoenix Raceway.

A year’s worth of planning, adjusting and executing will all come down to a single “winner takes all” race, the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race. William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney know that if they are the first of the four to cross the finish line, that will win them the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

Of course, they will not be the only four on the track. Unlike any other sport, the Playoff teams will still be competing with all of the NON-Playoff teams as well. That means a mistake by a driver not eligible for the championship can destroy the championship hopes of one of the Championship Four drivers.

Here is a look at what all the drivers and teams will be dealing with in the race and at the track.

Phoenix Raceway Data:
Track Size: 1-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 9 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 11 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees

NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race Data:
Season Race #: 36 of 36 (11-05-23)
Playoff Race #: 10 of 10
Championship Race #: 1 of 1
Race Length: 312 laps / 500 Kilometers / 312 Miles
Stage 1 Length: 60 laps
Stage 2 Length: 125 laps
Final Stage Length: 127 laps

Here’s the data on the Championship Four at Phoenix Raceway in their Cup Series careers.

NASCAR Cup Series 2023 Championship 4 Round Drivers at Phoenix Raceway

RankDriverRacesPolesWinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFsAverage FinishDriver Rating 
1Ryan Blaney1530610211.998.2
2Christopher Bell70004014.483.6 
3Kyle Larson1821711211.797.7 
4William Byron110116011.991.5 
* – Based on last 36 races at Phoenix Raceway (2005 – 2023).

Let’s take a look at the active drivers in NASCAR’s top division who have won a Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway during their careers.

Kevin Harvick9 Wins2018, 2016, 2015, 2014 sweep, 2013, 2012, 2007 sweep
Joey Logano3 Wins2022, 2020, 2016
Kyle Busch3 Wins2019, 2018, 2005
Denny Hamlin2 Wins2019, 2012
Ryan Newman2 Wins2017, 2010
William Byron1 Win2023
Chase Briscoe1 Win2022
Kyle Larson1 Win2021
Martin Truex Jr.1 Win2021
Chase Elliott1 Win2020

Since the inception of the “four rounds” in the NASCAR Playoffs in 2014, the driver that has won the championship has won the Championship Race at the end of the year. Perhaps that will change this year.

Kevin Harvick is not only the leading driver among active drivers in wins at Phoenix Raceway, he is the all-time leader in wins at the track. This race will be Kevin’s final race before moving to the broadcast booth next year. With nine of his 60 career Cup series wins coming at Phoenix, it would be very poetic if he could get his 10th and end his career with a win.

Martin Truex Jr. won the 2023 NASCAR Regular Season Championship. He has had a pretty unimpressive playoff run though. He could set the tone for the off-season and preparing for 2024 by beating the Championship Four and winning the race.

Joey Logano is the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Champion. He was not able to make it through to the Championship Four to have a chance at defending his championship. He could get a little satisfaction if he were able to win the Championship Race anyway.

Of course, every other driver has their own reason for wanting to win the race. One of which is to be the first driver not in the Championship Four to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race.

Of course, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney will be doing all they can do to keep the tradition alive for the 10th year of the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race being the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

We will all see who wins the race and who wins the championship starting at 2 p.m. central time (3 p.m. eastern time) this Sunday, November 5th in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens