Sunday (11/5) was the 2023 Cup Series Championship Race and NASCAR history was made at Phoenix Raceway.
For the first time since the beginning of the “four rounds” in the NASCAR Playoffs, the winner of the Championship was not the winner of the race in the final, one race, winner take all Round of Four race.
When the race started it looked as though William Byron was going to add to his 2023 series high six-wins. He won the pole and led the first 92 laps in the race. It also looked as though Kevin Harvick might have a chance to take the win in his final race as a full-time NASCAR driver. However, as the race wore on and the track conditions changed, these two drivers began to slip back in the running order a little.
Ross Chastain began coming on stronger as the track conditions changed. He was able to take the lead for the first time on lap 117 of the 312-lap race. He would be out front a total of six times for a race high 157 laps.
Ryan Blaney also came on stronger as the race wore on. The longer the green flag run the better it seemed his car got. However, he just couldn’t quite match the speed Ross had as the laps were winding down.
Ross was able to regain the lead after the fourth and final caution period with Ryan moving up to second-place behind him. That is the order the two would hold for the final 31 laps of the race.
Ross Chastain became the first driver not in the Championship Four to win the Championship Race to end the season in NASCAR History. It was his first Cup Series win at Phoenix Raceway, his second win of the 2023 season and his fourth career Cup Series win.
Ryan Blaney claimed second-place in the race, but that allowed him to claim the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. It is his first championship in NASCAR’s top division.
You can see the race results from Phoenix Raceway here.
You can see the final 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Point Standings here.
Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series Teams and Drivers, some time off before the 2024 Daytona 500 February 18th at Daytona International Speedway.
By: Buck Stevens