The NASCAR Cup Series ends its 36-race season on Sunday with the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway. Four drivers will compete for the 2022 championship: Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell. All each driver has to do to win the title is have a better finish than the other three.
They’ll try and do it at Phoenix, a one-mile oval that’s hosted the finale since 2020. Known for its dogleg where cars can go four, five, even six-wide on restarts, it’s a relatively short race by NASCAR standards (500 kilometers) that typically has just a handful of caution flags.
Championship 4 drivers have excelled here, the entire quartet posting top-5 finishes in both 2020 and '21. To do that this year, though, they’ll have their work cut out for them as both Christopher Bell (17th) and Ross Chastain (25th) qualified outside the top 15.
Joey Logano earned the pole for this race, seeking his second title in five seasons as the oldest championship-eligible driver in the field at age 32. Team Penske actually swept the front row with Ryan Blaney alongside, looking to become a record 20th different winner in this season of parity with the Next Gen chassis.
No "open" cars showed up for this event, leaving it four short of a 40-car grid. All 36 chartered cars who showed up were already guaranteed a spot no matter where they qualified.
1. Joey Logano (C)
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Chase Briscoe
4. Kyle Larson
5. Chase Elliott (C)
6. Harrison Burton (R)
7. Kevin Harvick
8. William Byron
9. Cole Custer
10. Ty Gibbs (i)
11. Tyler Reddick
12. Martin Truex Jr.
13. Aric Almirola
14. Austin Cindric (R)
15. Austin Dillon
16. AJ Allmendinger (i)
17. Christopher Bell (C)
18. Brad Keselowski
19. Chris Buescher
20. Michael McDowell
21. Denny Hamlin
22. Kyle Busch
23. Bubba Wallace
24. Alex Bowman
25. Ross Chastain (C)
26. Justin Haley
27. Corey LaJoie
28. Daniel Suarez
29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
30. Erik Jones
31. Todd Gilliland (R)
32. Ty Dillon
33. BJ McLeod (i)
34. Cody Ware
35. Garrett Smithley (i)
36. Landon Cassill (i)
(C) – Championship 4 driver
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Joey Logano (first) earned his fourth pole of the season, the most for him since 2015. Logano is seeking his second Cup championship; the fastest-qualifying Ford driver won it in 2018.
- Chase Briscoe (third) won at this Phoenix track back in the spring. It’s his only career Cup victory.
- Kyle Larson (fourth), the defending race winner, was the fastest-qualifying Chevrolet. Larson is still eligible to win the owner’s championship in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports car if he finishes higher than Ross Chastain, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell.
- Chase Elliott (fifth) is seeking his second Cup title in the last three seasons.
- Harrison Burton (sixth) was the fastest rookie in the field. While Austin Cindric (14th) has already clinched Rookie of the Year, Burton has his best starting spot of the season.
- Cole Custer (ninth) has back-to-back top-10 starts for the first time since April.
- Ty Gibbs (10th) has his second top-10 start in the last three Cup races. He was also the fastest-qualifying Toyota.
- Tyler Reddick (11th) returns to the No. 8 car after having to park it early at Martinsville due to concussion-like symptoms. Reddick is driving his last race for Richard Childress Racing before moving over to 23XI Racing for 2023.
- Christopher Bell (17th) is seeking his first career Cup title.
- Brad Keselowski (18th) is trying to extend his streak of winning at least one Cup race for 11 straight seasons.
- Kyle Busch (22nd) is running his last event for Joe Gibbs Racing after 15 seasons and two championships together.
- Alex Bowman (24th) returns to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after missing the last five races due to a concussion suffered at Texas Motor Speedway. Noah Gragson filled in for Bowman.
- Ross Chastain (25th) qualified the worst among the Championship 4 drivers. He’s seeking his first career Cup title.
- Ty Dillon (32nd) is running his last race in the No. 42 of Petty GMS Motorsports. He’ll move over to Spire Motorsports and drive their No. 77 next season.
- Garrett Smithley (35th) replaces JJ Yeley behind the wheel of the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford. Smithley last ran for the team at Texas last month.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: NASCAR Cup Series Championship/Season Finale 500
Track: Phoenix Raceway (Avondale, Ariz.)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 6
TV: NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 312 laps (500 kilometers)
Stage 1: 60 Laps
Stage 2: 125 Laps
Stage 3: 127 Laps
Subscribe to The Frontstretch Podcast with Bryan Nolen where he’ll be providing exclusive NASCAR Championship 4 coverage all weekend long. In the long-form edition this week, I jump on to chat about Ross Chastain’s history-making move at Martinsville and whether NASCAR will make a rule forbidding rim-riding the outside wall going forward.