Drivers chase Cup championship in Phoenix

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The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion will be determined today when drivers hit the track at Phoenix Raceway for the NASCAR championship race.

after 26 regular season races and nine playoff racesThe number of candidates for the tournament was reduced from 16 to the fourth round: Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, William Byron, and Kyle Larson.

Blaney, Bell and Larson won the last three races in a row, securing their places, while Byron scored the final berth as the driver with the most points in the third round of qualifying without a win.

Now, those title contenders will face off against the desert heat and 32 other drivers Sunday on the one-mile oval to compete for the championship trophy.

Follow along to get live updates on all the action from championship race day:

After complaining about his brakes, Christopher Bell crashed into the outside wall on lap 109 of 312 when his brake rotor blew out and his right front tire failed, sending the No. 20 Toyota hard into the outside wall.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was racing sixth behind fellow championship contenders Ryan Blaney and William Byron and just ahead of Kyle Larson. Bell, who was racing for his first Cup Series championship, would not be able to finish the race.

After Bell’s accident, all the cars went down pit road for tires.

Ryan Blaney is now the top contender for the championship after overtaking William Byron for third place midway through the second stage. Byron had led every lap until he passed pole winner Kevin Harvick on lap 93.

Pole winner Kevin Harvick and Championship 4 driver William Byron passed on lap 93 after Byron had led every lap since the green flag fell at Phoenix Raceway. Harvick, who won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship under the current qualifying format in 2014, is racing in his final event before retiring from full-time racing.

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Ross Chastain also passed Byron, who dropped to third place. Ryan Blaney moved up to fourth, Christopher Bell to sixth, Kyle Larson to seventh, and Chris Buescher to fifth.

William Byron retained the pole position after the first round of pit stops for tires and fuel in the NASCAR championship race. With his pole win, Byron was able to choose the best pit stop, which helped him maintain his advantage over Kevin Harvick in the race out of the pits. Of the three other championship contenders, Kyle Larson gained one spot from fifth to fourth, Ryan Blaney gained two spots from 10th to eighth, and Blaney also managed to pass fellow competitor Christopher Bell, who remained steady in ninth.

William Byron, bidding for his first title, led every lap of the opening stage of the NASCAR championship race at Phoenix Raceway. Byron ran in front throughout the 60 laps, holding off Kevin Harvick when the yellow flag fell at the stage break. Byron’s teammate Kyle Larson dropped to fifth after starting fourth, but Christopher Bell moved up to ninth after starting 13th, while Ryan Blaney also moved up to 10th after starting 15th.

Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace rounded out the top five, with Chris Buescher sixth, Martin Truex Jr. seventh, and Eric Jones eighth.

Championship 4 driver William Byron led the first 30 laps after starting on pole. Kyle Larson, who started fourth, moved up one position from fourth to third, Christopher Bell moved up two positions from 13th to 11th, and Ryan Blaney moved up one position to 14th. The first stage is 60 laps.

The green flag dropped for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race. Championship 4 driver and pole-sitter William Byron leads the field as the final race of the season begins in Phoenix. Among the other title contenders, Kyle Larson started fourth, Christopher Bell started 13th, and Ryan Blaney started 15th.

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Any one of the 36 drivers participating in Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway could win the race, but only four — Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Kyle Larson — can win the 2023 Cup Series championship. Simply put, which of these four drivers has The best result in the championship race will win the title.

Since NASCAR adopted this qualifying format in 2014, the winner of the final race of the season has always been one of the Championship 4 drivers.

Sunday’s racing at Phoenix Raceway begins at 3 PM ET (1 PM CT) in Avondale, Arizona.

NBC is broadcasting the race and has a pre-race show starting at 2 PM ET (noon local time). Peacock will have a post-race show starting at 7 PM ET (5 PM CT).

Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway can be streamed live on Peacock NBC Sports website And the NBC Sports app.

It’s hot in Avondale, Arizona. Temperatures reach the 90s with plenty of sunshine and no signs of rain for the NASCAR parade.

Kevin Harvick won the first championship in this current format, which was implemented in 2014. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, who won last year’s championship, are the only drivers to have won more than one title in this format.

Here are the nine previous champions: 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), Joey Logano (2022).

Christopher Bell

  • car number: 20
  • a team: Joe Gibbs Racing
  • age: 28 (29 on December 16)
  • Full-time cup seasons:4
  • 2023 victories: 2; Top 5S: 10; Top ten: 18
  • Career victories: 6; Top 5S: 31; Top ten: 61
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Kyle Larson

  • car number: 5
  • a team: Hendrick Motorsports
  • age: 31
  • Full-time cup seasons:9
  • 2023 victories: 4; Top 5S: 14; Top ten: 16
  • Career victories: 23; Top 5S: 103; Top ten: 162

Ryan Blaney

  • car number: 12
  • a team: Team Penske
  • age: 29 (30 on December 31)
  • Full-time cup seasons:8
  • 2023 victories: 3; Top 5S: 7; Top ten: 17
  • Career victories: 10; Top 5S: 68; Top ten: 130

William Byron

  • car number: 24
  • a team: Hendrick Motorsports
  • age: 25 (26 on November 29)
  • Full-time cup seasons:6
  • 2023 victories: 6; Top 5S: 14; Top ten: 20
  • Career victories: 10; Top 5S: 40; Top ten: 82

Championship competitor William Byron won first place in Saturday’s qualifying and will start on the front row alongside Martin Truex Jr., who qualified second. Among the other drivers in Championship 4, Kyle Larson will start 4th, Christopher Bell will start 13th, and Ryan Blaney will start 15th.

NBC’s NASCAR analysts have made their picks for the 2023 champion as the final Cup Series race is about to turn green. Three were selected Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, two were selected Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney and one was selected Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson. Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing, unfortunately, doesn’t like it. Their choices:

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Ryan Blaney
  • Jeff Burton: William Byron
  • Steve Letart: William Byron
  • Dale Jarrett: Ryan Blaney
  • Kyle Beatty: William Byron
  • Brad Dougherty: Kyle Larson

The U.S. Air Force Band performed the national anthem before the championship race at Phoenix Raceway. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., The Singing Sergeants is one of six bands of the United States Air Force Band, the official choir of the United States Air Force. Their performance was accompanied by a flyover of four F-35s from the 310th Fighter Squadron (“Hats”) from Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa County, Arizona.

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