NASCAR’s championship race: Here’s what to know for Sunday’s finale



CNN
 — 

With the NASCAR Cup Series making its final stop of the 2022 season at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, four drivers will compete to be crowned champion.

The format is simple: whoever takes the checkered flag ahead of the others takes home the title.

Here’s what to know about Sunday’s season finale in the desert.

Although 36 drivers will start the race at 3 p.m. ET, just four are eligible for the series title after a playoff whittled the field down from 16:

  • Ross Chastain set the sports world ablaze last week with a sensational, unorthodox last-lap move that left the internet and fellow drivers in awe. Accelerating into a hairpin corner at the famed Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Chastain rode the wall at a high rate of speed and passed enough cars to qualify for Sunday’s championship. He will start 25th in the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet and is competing for his first title.
  • Chase Elliott was the top regular-season finisher this year and will start 5th in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. A fan favorite from Dawsonville, Georgia, Elliott is the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 champion who won the series title in 1988. Chase will be going for his second Cup championship after winning it all in 2020 and is the only finalist to have also qualified for last year’s edition.
  • Joey Logano drove his way into the championship with a race win at Las Vegas and will start on the pole Sunday in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Widely seen as the underdog in the 2018 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he went on to win the event and claim the title. Another championship Sunday would be the second of his career.
  • Christopher Bell qualified for the championship by winning last week’s race at Martinsville. A rookie in 2020, this would be Bell’s first title if he completes the feat Sunday. He starts 17th in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Phoenix Raceway has been a fixture on the Cup circuit since the 1980s yet did not host the season finale until 2020.

The one-mile oval, with its distinct dogleg shape that bends its backstretch, underwent a renovation in 2018.

The start-finish line was moved from one of its straightaways to the exit of one of its corners, giving drivers one more chance to dive in and make a winning pass.

If Chastain or anyone else tries a last-lap move similar to Martinsville, expect a finish to the season like no other.

The race will start at 3 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBC and streaming on Peacock. Coverage can also be heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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