Special Edition NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 News & Notes

All the hard work put in to get to this point culminates this weekend as the Championship 4 contenders vie for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series title in the Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Team Penske’s Joey Logano secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round early, winning the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but for the other three drivers it came down to last weekend’s elimination race at Martinsville Speedway and the battle for the final spots didn’t disappoint. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, again this season, pulled off a ‘walk-off’ win facing elimination heading into Martinsville. Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2022 Regular Season Champion Chase Elliott finished 11th last Sunday and earned his position in the Champ 4 on points. And Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain pulled-off an unbelievable video game-type move, that some have deemed as the ‘Martinsville Miracle’ as he went wide-open along the outside wall in Turns 3 and 4 passing enough cars to earn the fourth and final spot on points in this season’s Championship 4. Now the stage is set for the Championship 4 drivers to contend for the title, and the prestigious Bill France Cup trophy, which will be awarded to the highest finishing driver of the four at Phoenix Raceway. Two of the four drivers are former champions – Logano (2018) and Elliott (2020) – with Bell and Chastain looking for their first Cup titles this season.

Here’s an in-depth look at the championship contenders heading into this action-packed Championship Week in Phoenix: (Listed in Alphabetical Order)

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

Bell By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round (2022).

2 – Number of career top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins during the 2022 season.

4 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series career total wins.

4 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season.

8.2 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

9.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway.

9.9 – Average starting position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

12 – Number of top-five finishes during the 2022 season.

12.2 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs.

13.9 – Average finishing position for the first 35 races of the 2022 season.

17.0 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway.

18 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022.

19 – Number of top-10 finishes during the 2022 season.

76.1 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway, third-best among Championship 4.

91.2 – Season-to-date driver rating, fifth-best among active drivers in 2022.

573 – Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high in a single season).

8,504 – Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (92.7%).

For Whom The Bell Tolls: JGR’s Christopher Bell seeks first career Cup title

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell joined the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2020, and ever since the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has been building momentum, and this season, he has become a force to be reckoned with. The 27-year-old, Bell, has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for three full seasons, qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in two of them (2021, 2022). This season will mark the first time the Oklahoman has made the Championship 4 Round and did so by winning the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway usurping Chase Elliott’s record of fewest starts in the series before making the Championship 4 at 184 starts; Bell accomplished the feat in 107 starts. If Bell were to win the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend, he would become the first NASCAR Cup Series driver from Oklahoma to win a championship.

In Bell’s first appearance in the Playoffs last season, he advanced to the Round of 12 but was eliminated from the postseason following an eighth-place finish at the Charlotte Roval. He ultimately finished the 2021 season 12th in the final championship standings.

Bell’s 2022 championship campaign was slow at the beginning of the season but following his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, he has found another gear. Bell is having the best NASCAR Cup Series season of his career. In 35 starts, he has posted three wins (New Hampshire, Charlotte RC, Martinsville), 12 top fives and 19 top 10s. His average start this season is a 9.9 and his average finish is 13.6. He has also led a career-high 573 laps.

Bell proves to be one of the best in the Playoffs

The Joe Gibbs Racing rising star, Christopher Bell, was facing elimination for the second-time this postseason heading into Martinsville Speedway and he pulled off the nearly impossible and won to advance to the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. Now, the 27-year-old has his first chance at a Cup title this weekend in Phoenix.

Bell shot out of the gate this Playoffs becoming the only driver to post top-five finishes in the first three races of the opening round. He put up a fifth-place finish at Darlington Raceway, then finished third at Kansas and fourth at Bristol to advance to the Round of 12. But his luck turned when he skidded out in the first two races of the Round of 12, finishing 34th at Texas and 17th at Talladega. Heading to the elimination race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Road Course, he was 33 points below the cutline in a must-win situation, and he did just that. Bell won at the Roval and earned his spot in the Round of 8. It was the sixth-time in the elimination-style format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that a driver facing elimination has won to advance to the next round. Then again, Bell hit another speed bump opening the Round of 8 with a 34th-place finish at Las Vegas and a 11th-place finish at Homestead-Miami. Bell once again was facing elimination heading into last weekend at Martinsville Speedway (-33 points from cutline), and miraculously pulled off the win again to advance to the Championship 4. It was the seventh time a driver has faced elimination and won to advance and the first-time a driver has done it twice in a single Playoff run.

Bell’s previous performances at Phoenix Raceway

For the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to compete for the prestigious title. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell is the lone Toyota driver to make the Championship 4 and will look to bring home the Bill France Cup trophy on Sunday.

The one-mile Phoenix Raceway has been a challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in the NASCAR Cup Series, having made five series starts at the one-mile track collecting just two top 10s. His average finish at Phoenix is 17.0, third-best among the Championship 4.

Bell also ranks in the top 20 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 16.145, 16th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 76.1, 17th-best and 185 Quality Passes, 20th-most.

Earlier this season, Bell started fourth but spun on the backstretch on Lap 119 and ultimately finished 26th two laps down at Phoenix Raceway.

Crew Chief Corner: Adam Stevens

Since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 2015, crew chief Adam Stevens has shown that he is one of the best leaders in the sport. Now, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series crew chief champion (2015, 2019) has the opportunity to become the seventh different crew chief in series history to win three or more championships. Prior to joining forces with Christopher Bell and the No. 20 team in 2020, Stevens worked with veteran Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team from 2015-2019.

In 280 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Stevens has led drivers to the following achievements since 2015:

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship (with driver Kyle Busch: 2015, 2019)
  • Six total NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances; five are consecutive (2015-2019, 2022)
  • Eight consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances
  • 32 wins
  • 115 top fives
  • 170 top 10s
  • 8,232 laps led
  • 19 poles

Bell and Stevens will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Stevens will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with titles with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)
Rank No. of Titles Crew Chiefs Years
1 8 Dale Inman 1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’79, ’84
2 7 Chad Knaus 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’16
3 4 Kirk Shelmerdine 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91
4 3 Ray Evernham 1995, ’97, ’98
Bud Moore 1957, ’62, ’63
Lee Petty 1954, ’58, ’59
7 2 Adam Stevens 2019, ’15
Greg Zipadelli 2002, ’05
Andy Petree 1993, ’94
Jeff Hammond 1982, ’85
Tim Brewer 1978, ’81
Herb Nab 1976, ’77
Jake Elder 1968, ’69
Carl Kiekhaefer 1955, ’56
Smokey Yunick 1951, ’53
* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

Continuing Joe Gibbs Racing’s excellence

Winning and excellence are ingrained in the foundation of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization and since joining the NASCAR Cup Series in 1992 the organization has collected five series championships among three drivers – Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).

Overall, Joe Gibbs Racing has 10 NASCAR national series owner championships (five in Cup and five in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016).

Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the last 22 NASCAR Cup Series championships (2000-2021), putting the team’s title-winning percentage during that span at 22.7%. The organization also holds the NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era (1972-Present) record for the most wins in a single season with 19 victories in 2019.

Heading into Phoenix this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing has earned six NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022. The 2022 season is the organization’s 30th straight season with at least one victory in the NASCAR Cup Series totaling 200 career wins since 1992.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s recent dominance doesn’t end there, they also set a NASCAR Cup Series Modern Era record for the most finishes (32) inside the top two in 2019; a feat Hendrick Motorsports tied in 2021. This season the JGR foursome of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. scored six wins, 34 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes.

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs elimination-style format in 2014, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed at least one driver in the Championship 4 Round each season (Christopher Bell: 2022, Denny Hamlin: 2014, ’19, ’20, ’21; Kyle Busch: 2015-2019; Martin Truex Jr.: 2019, 2021; Carl Edwards: 2016).

Impressively, Joe Gibbs Racing has placed more than one driver in the Championship 4 Round in three of the nine Playoffs with the elimination-format (2016, 2019 and 2021) and set the series record for the most drivers to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round by an organization in a single season when Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin all made the Championship 4 in 2019.

Joe Gibbs Racing has also won at least one Playoff race in 15 of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 40 postseason wins, second-most all-time.

Christopher Bell made his fulltime NASCAR Cup Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020 and he immediately got up to speed. In his rookie season he made all 36 starts posting two top fives and seven top 10s finishing the season 20th in points. In just his second season, he grabbed his first career Cup win at the Daytona Road Course and earned his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2021). Bell would finish the 2021 season in 12th after being eliminated in the Round of 12 from the postseason. This season has been a breakout year for the Oklahoman, in 36 starts he has put up career highs in wins (three), top fives (12) and top 10s (19); including becoming the first driver to face elimination twice in a postseason run and win both times to advance to the next round. Now the 27-year-old is looking to bring the Joe Gibbs Racing organization its sixth NASCAR Cup Series championship and his first; joining Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015 and 2019).

Ross Chastain (No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet)

Chastain By The Numbers:

1 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 (2022)

1 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

1 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 (career-high)

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

10.6 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

10.8 – Average starting position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.5 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

14 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of the 2022 season

14.1 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

20 – Number of top-10 finishes during the first 35 races of the 2021 season

20.5 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

21 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

57.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – fourth-best among Championship 4

93.4 – Season-to-date driver rating – second-best among active drivers in 2022

692 – Total number of laps led in the 2022 season (career-high)

8,740 – Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (95.3%)

Come So Far: Chastain revels in opportunity at a Cup title

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain heads to Phoenix Raceway this weekend looking to become the 36th different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win the championship and the first to accomplish the feat for Trackhouse Racing.

Of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 drivers, Chastain and Christopher Bell are making their final round debut. The Alva, Florida native’s previous best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series final standings was 20th last season.

It has been a long road to get to this point in the NASCAR Cup Series for Ross Chastain. In 2011, Chastain made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making five starts posting one top-10 finish. He would compete fulltime in the Truck Series in 2012 finishing 17th in the final standings for car owner Bobby Dotter. He then raced another 14 races in the Truck Series in 2013 for Brad Keselowski Racing finishing the season 18th in points. In 2014, he made the jump to racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with multiple teams making seven starts. He then went fulltime racing in the Xfinity Series for the next six seasons (2015-2020) finishing a career-best seventh in the points in 2019. He made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in 2017 with Premium Motorsports making two starts that season. He would race fulltime in the Cup Series with Premium Motorsports in 2018 and 2019 but had elected to earn points in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and the Truck Series in 2019 – he finished a career-best runner-up in the Truck standings in 2019. In 2020, he ran part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series making eight total starts, five for Spire Motorsports and three for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing filling in for an injured Ryan Newman. In 2021, Chastain signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to pilot the No. 42 car and his career has taken off ever since. In 36 series starts in 2021, Chastain posted three top fives and eight top 10s and finished the season, a then career-best 20th in points.

Following the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing at the conclusion of last season, Trackhouse Racing named Ross Chastain as the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet and the rest has been history. This season, Chastain is having a breakout year posting two wins (COTA and Talladega-1), 14 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has qualified for the Playoffs for the first-time in his career and fought his way to the Championship 4 for his first appearance in the final postseason round. And has done so, in the second fewest Cup Series starts in a driver’s career before making the Championship 4 at 150 starts, second only Christopher Bell at 107 and surpassing the previous record held by Chase Elliott of 184 in 2020. Chastain becomes the fifth different driver to earn a spot in the Championship 4 in his first elimination-style format Playoff appearance; joining the inaugural season Champ 4 drivers in 2014 – Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin,

Ross Chastain is looking to cap off a career season

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is having a career-year and not only because he made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s Championship 4 Round for the first time, but also because he has racked up career-highs in every statistical category.

Chastain got up to speed at Trackhouse Racing fairly quickly this season winning in just his sixth race (COTA) with the organization – a team record for fewest races before a Cup win. And once Chastain found his groove, the successes just kept coming. He has rallied off two victories this season (COTA and Talladega-1) and has finished runner-up five times. In total he put up career-highs in wins (two), top-five (14) and top-10 (20) finishes this season, as well as a career-high in laps led at 692 laps out front.

And to top it all off, Chastain earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his career.

Chastain kicked the postseason’s Round of 16 off with a 20th-place finish at Darlington and then rallied with a seventh-place finish at Kansas and a sixth-place finish at Bristol to clinch a spot in the Round of 12. From there he finished 13th in Texas and then followed it up with a fourth-place finish at Talladega. Chastain then struggled at the Charlotte Road Course finishing 37th but had enough points to move on to the Round of 8. He then switched it to high gear in the Round of 8 putting up runner-up finishes at Las Vegas and Homestead-Miami. Then on the final lap of the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, Chastain held it wide-open and passed enough cars in Turns 3 and 4 to lock himself into the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in his career. He finished fourth at Martinsville one spot ahead of Denny Hamlin to close out the Round of 8.

Chastain’s career performance at Phoenix

Two of the four drivers in this season’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 have not previously won at Phoenix Raceway and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is one of them (also Christopher Bell).

Chastain has made eight starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at Phoenix is 20.5, fourth-best among the 2022 Championship 4.

Chastain will have his work cut out for him this weekend at the one-mile Phoenix track. He is ranked in the top 30 in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 22.504, 28th-best in the series, a Driver Rating of 57.7, 26th-best, 22 Fastest Laps Run, 23rd-best and 582 Laps in the Top 15 (23.3%), 23rd-most.

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 17th and finished runner-up to Chase Briscoe – his best performance at the one-mile track.

Crew Chief Corner: Phil Surgen

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Chip Ganassi Racing crew chief in 2016, Phil Surgen has shown that he is one of the rising stars in the sport. Surgen has worked on a part-time basis with drivers Kyle Larson (2016), Matt Kenseth (2020) before serving as crew chief fulltime with Ross Chastain in 2021. Surgen also made the jump to Trackhouse Racing with Chastain this season. During his two seasons of full-time competition with Chastain, the duo has made 71 Cup Series starts together posting two wins, 17 top fives and 28 top 10s. The pair has also qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and the Championship 4 Round for the first-time in their careers.

The Chastain-Surgen pair has combined for the following achievements in 71 NASCAR Cup Series races together:

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearance (2022)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2022)
  • 2 wins
  • 17 top fives
  • 28 top 10s
  • 754 laps led

The two will look to capture their first NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. If they accomplish the feat, Surgen will become the 45th different crew chief in the series with a championship.

Building a legacy with Trackhouse Racing

In just its second full season in the NASCAR Cup Series and its first year with multiple cars, Trackhouse Racing, has put both of its teams in Victory Lane and earned spots in the Playoffs for the first time in the organization’s history. On top of all that, driver Ross Chastain and the No. 1 team have qualified for the Championship 4 Round and have a shot at the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

Trackhouse Racing will be facing three juggernaut organizations in the sport this weekend at Phoenix Raceway – Hendrick Motorsports with 14 Cup Series titles (most all-time), Joe Gibbs Racing with five series titles and Team Penske with two. Trackhouse Racing will be vying for their first NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Chastain can pour the foundation for the legacy of Trackhouse Racing this weekend at Phoenix by winning the title. If he accomplishes the feat, he will be the 36th different driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship, and the third to do it in their first year with a new team in the elimination-style format of the Playoffs (2014-2022); joining Kevin Harvick (2014) and Kyle Larson (2021).

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

Elliott By The Numbers:

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Championships (2020)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championships (2022)

1 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins at Phoenix Raceway (2020)

3 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 (2020, ’21, ‘22)

5 – Number of career top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

5 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins in 2022 – ties 2020 for career-high

5.6 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

8 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

10.8 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12.0 – Average finishing position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

12 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

16.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

20 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

46 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022 – series-most this year

99.2 – Season-to-date driver rating – series-best among active drivers in 2022

109.9 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – best among the Championship 4

546 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

857 – Total number of laps led in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season

8,514 – Total number of laps completed in the 2021 season (92.8%)

Elliott has chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott has the opportunity this Sunday (Nov. 6) in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to become just the second active driver with multiple championships joining veteran Kyle Busch with two (2015, 2019). Elliott would also become the 17th different driver in series history to more than one series title.

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)
Rank No. of Titles Driver Years
1 7 Jimmie Johnson 2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06
Dale Earnhardt 1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80
Richard Petty 1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64
4 4 Jeff Gordon 2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95
5 3 Darrell Waltrip 1985, ‘82, ‘81
Cale Yarborough 1978, ‘77, ‘76
David Pearson 1969, ‘68, ‘66
Lee Petty 1959, ‘58, ‘54
Tony Stewart 2011, ‘05, ‘02
10 2 Kyle Busch 2019, ’15
Terry Labonte 1996, ‘84
Ned Jarrett 1965, ‘61
Joe Weatherly 1963, ‘62
Buck Baker 1957, ‘56
Tim Flock 1955, ‘52
Herb Thomas 1953, ‘51
* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

If Elliott accomplishes the feat and wins the NASCAR Cup Series championship this weekend, he will also become the fourth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship and the overall title in the same season; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2019) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (2021).

Family Affair: Chase Elliott keeps piling on the Elliott racing legacy

NASCAR was built by hard working and dedicated families like the Frances, Pettys, Jarretts and Earnhardts, and this weekend Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott has the chance to build on his family’s legacy by adding another championship to the family name in the highest form of stock car racing – the NASCAR Cup Series.

If Elliott accomplishes the feat the Elliotts (Bill: 1988 and Chase: 2020) would join the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979), and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999) as just the third father-son combo to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series titles.

Elliott’s talent was apparent early on in his career. The Dawsonville, Georgia native jumped in the national NASCAR scene in 2013 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis, making nine starts and winning at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in just his sixth start. He then climbed up to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports and became the first rookie in series history to win the series championship in 2014. He ran one more season in Xfinity, finishing runner-up in the points in 2015 before moving up to the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime in 2016 with Hendrick Motorsports.

Elliott has qualified for the Playoffs all seven seasons he has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series, and this is the third straight season he has earned a spot in the Championship 4 Round (2020, 2021, 2022). Since running fulltime in the series, Elliott has made 256 starts putting up 18 wins, 86 top fives and 137 top 10s.

Mr. ‘Most Popular’ is looking to add to his championship resume

Embraced by the overwhelming cheers in his favor by the fans at the racetrack, there is no doubt Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular driver. The year-end award he has taken home for that special distinction the last four seasons is just confirmation on top of the songs of fans singing his praises on a weekly basis.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Elliott, has been at the front of the field most of the season. He took the NASCAR Cup Series point standings lead following Atlanta and held it for 22 consecutive races. Elliott finished the regular season with four wins and took the Regular Season Championship for the first time in his career. The 26-year-old, Elliott, entered the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 40 Playoff points to his credit.

Unfortunately, a mid-race incident at Darlington Raceway to open the 2022 Playoffs relegated him to a 36th-place finish, but Elliott was quick to rebound, finishing 11th at Kansas and runner-up at Bristol to earn enough points to advance to the Round of 12.

Once again, Elliott was in an incident to start the Round of 12 at Texas finishing 34th, but the Georgia native reversed course at Talladega grabbing his fifth win of the season and securing his spot in the Round of 8. He would finish the Round of 12 with a 20th-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

Elliott then finished 21st at Las Vegas and 14th at Homestead-Miami in the Playoffs Round of 8. As a result, he was 11 points up on the Championship 4 cutoff heading into the penultimate race of the season at Martinsville Speedway. Mr. ‘Most Popular’ then finished second in the first two stages and finished the race in 10th at Martinsville to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round for the third time in his career (2020-2022).

Through 35 races this season Chase Elliott has put up five wins, 12 top fives and 20 top 10s. He has led 857 laps and has an average finish of 12.0. He also has the series-best season-to-date driver rating (99.2) on the year.

Elliott’s prowess in the Valley of the Sun

For just the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history, Phoenix Raceway will host the season finale race and set the stage for the Championship 4 to battle it out for the NASCAR Cup Series title. And the recent change could not have come at a better time for Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, who has performed much better at Phoenix than the previous season finale venue Homestead-Miami Speedway, including winning the championship race in 2020 and taking the title.

Elliott has made 13 series starts at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, posting one win (2020), five top fives, eight top 10s and a pole. His average finish at Phoenix is a strong 10.7, best among the 2022 Championship 4.

Elliott is also near the top of the charts in several pre-race Loop Data categories at Phoenix with an Average Running Position of 7.861, series-best, a Driver Rating of 109.9, second-best, 397 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best and 3,520 Laps in the Top 15 (86.4%), 10th-most.

Earlier this season at Phoenix, he started 19th and finished 11th.

Crew Chief Corner: Alan Gustafson  

Since making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series as a Hendrick Motorsport’s crew chief in 2005, Alan Gustafson has proven that he is one of the best in the sport. Now, the 2020 series crew chief champion has the chance to become the 16th different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series to win multiple titles all-time. If Gustafson and the No. 9 team pull off the championship this weekend, Gustafson will also become just the second active crew chief with multiple Cup Series titles, joining Adam Stevens (2015, 2019).

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)
Rank No. of Titles Crew Chiefs Years
1 8 Dale Inman 1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’79, ’84
2 7 Chad Knaus 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’16
3 4 Kirk Shelmerdine 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91
4 3 Ray Evernham 1995, ’97, ’98
Bud Moore 1957, ’62, ’63
Lee Petty 1954, ’58, ’59
7 2 Adam Stevens 2019, ’15
Greg Zipadelli 2002, ’05
Andy Petree 1993, ’94
Jeff Hammond 1982, ’85
Tim Brewer 1978, ’81
Herb Nab 1976, ’77
Jake Elder 1968, ’69
Carl Kiekhaefer 1955, ’56
Smokey Yunick 1951, ’53
* 15 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

During his 18 seasons of full-time competition, Gustafson has worked with five different drivers: Kyle Busch (2005-2007), Casey Mears (2008), Mark Martin (2009, 2010), Jeff Gordon (2011-2015) and Chase Elliott (2016-Present). And during those 18 seasons he led his drivers to 15 Playoff appearances and to wins in 14 of the 18 seasons. This weekend at Phoenix will mark his fourth appearance in the Championship 4 Round, his first appearance was with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in 2015 when they finished the season third in points. In his other two appearances, he won the championship in 2020 and finished fourth in the final standings last season.

The Elliott-Gustafson pair has combined for the following achievements in 247 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2016:

  • One NASCAR Cup Series Championship (2020)
  • One NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship (2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2021, 2022)
  • Seven consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2016-2022)
  • 18 wins
  • 84 top fives
  • 135 top 10s
  • 4,900 laps led
  • 12 poles

The two will look to capture their second NASCAR Cup Series championship together this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Gustafson is one of 44 different crew chiefs in the NASCAR Cup Series with a championship.

Adding to the historic legacy of Hendrick Motorsports

When it comes to winning titles in the NASCAR Cup Series, no organization does it better than Hendrick Motorsports with their series leading 14 championships among five different drivers – Kyle Larson (2021), Chase Elliott (2020), Jimmie Johnson (2016, ’13, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07, ’06), NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (2001, ’98, ’97, ’95) and Terry Labonte (1996).

Overall Hendrick Motorsports has 17 NASCAR national series owner championships, the all-time record in NASCAR (14 in Cup and three in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – 1997, 1999, 2001).

And to boot, Hendrick Motorsports was the first organization in the series history to win four straight, from 1995-98 (Jeff Gordon in 1995 and 1997-98; Terry Labonte 1996) and then upped their record in the series with five straight, from 2006-2010 (Jimmie Johnson). Hendrick Motorsports has won 14 of the last 27 NASCAR Cup Series championships (1995-2021), putting the team’s title-winning percentage during that span at 51.8% – series-best.

The 2022 season is the organization’s 37th straight season with a victory; longest-ever streak by a team in the series and its 38th season overall with a win; the most-ever by a team in the series. And to top all of that, the organization is the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series with 291 total Cup wins.

The Hendrick Motorsports foursome of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman put up 11 wins this season in the NASCAR Cup Series and all four made the Playoffs. Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Playoff race in each of the 19 Playoff seasons (since 2004) for a combined 55 postseason wins, most all-time.

Chase Elliott can add to the legacy of Hendrick Motorsports this weekend by winning the title and extending the organization’s record in series driver championships, but the No. 9 team did not advance to the Championship 4 Round in the owners’ standings, but instead his teammate Kyle Larson’s No. 5 team earned the spot for Hendrick Motorsports this season. If Larson were to win the owners championship this season, it would be the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings since 1963 that the series has had a split driver and owner championship, and it would be just the third time it has occurred in the series all-time. The first time the series saw a split championship was in 1954, when Lee Petty won the drivers championship and Herb Thomas’ No. 92 team won the owners title. The second time it has happened was in 1963, when Joe Weatherly won the driver championship, and the No. 21 Wood Brother Racing team won the owner’s title.

In total, 13 different organizations have won at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Hendrick Motorsports with 12 victories among seven different drivers.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

Logano By The Numbers:

2 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series race wins at Phoenix Raceway – most among Championship 4

3 – Number of NASCAR Cup Series wins in 2022

5 – Number of career appearances in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 – tied for series-most

6 – Number of stage wins during the 2022 season

7 – Number of top-five finishes at Phoenix Raceway

10 – Number of top-five finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

10.4 – Average starting position at Phoenix Raceway

10.7 – Average starting position during the first 35 races of 2022 season

13.1 – Average finishing position at Phoenix Raceway

13.4 – Average finishing position during the first nine races of the 2022 Playoffs

13.8 – Average finishing position during the 2022 season

15 – Number of top-10 finishes at Phoenix Raceway

16 – Number of top-10 finishes in the first 35 races of 2022 season

26 – Total number of Playoff points accumulated in 2022

94.7 – Career driver rating at Phoenix Raceway – second-best among Championship 4

89.5 – Season-to-date driver rating – sixth-best among active drivers this season

597 – Total number of laps led in the 2022 season

721 – Total number of laps led at Phoenix Raceway

8,981 – Total number of laps completed in the 2022 season (97.9%)

Logano has a chance to become second active driver with multiple Cup titles

Team Penske’s Joey Logano took home his first NASCAR Cup Series championship back in 2018 passing Martin Truex Jr. late in the season finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway to hoist the Bill France Cup trophy. Now, the Connecticut native has a chance to become just the second active driver with multiple series titles and the 17th all-time to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Drivers with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)
Rank No. of Titles Driver Years
1 7 Jimmie Johnson 2016, ‘13, ’10, ‘09, ‘08, ‘07, ‘06
Dale Earnhardt 1994, ’93, ‘91, ‘90, ‘87, ‘86, ‘80
Richard Petty 1979, ‘75, ‘74, ‘72, ‘71, ‘67, ‘64
4 4 Jeff Gordon 2001, ‘98, ‘97, ‘95
5 3 Darrell Waltrip 1985, ‘82, ‘81
Cale Yarborough 1978, ‘77, ‘76
David Pearson 1969, ‘68, ‘66
Lee Petty 1959, ‘58, ‘54
Tony Stewart 2011, ‘05, ‘02
10 2 Kyle Busch 2019, ’15
Terry Labonte 1996, ‘84
Ned Jarrett 1965, ‘61
Joe Weatherly 1963, ‘62
Buck Baker 1957, ‘56
Tim Flock 1955, ‘52
Herb Thomas 1953, ‘51
* 16 total multiple NASCAR Cup Series champions

 Joey Logano started the 2022 season off fast with crew chief Paul Wolfe grabbing the points lead following the first race of the season at Phoenix back in March. He then collected his first win of the season at the historic Darlington Raceway, taking the checkered flag from the pole position. He grab his second win of the season at NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway. He finished the regular season with two wins, seven top fives and 12 top 10s entering the 2022 Playoffs as the second seed with 25 Playoffs points.

Logano and the No. 22 team’s path to the season finale at Phoenix

Team Penske’s Joey Logano has been a staple in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He has qualified for the Playoffs in nine of 14 seasons he has competed fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series, and since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014, Logano has made the Championship 4 Round a total of five times (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022) – tied for the series-most appearances with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

In the Round of 16, No. 22 team and driver Joey Logano put up a fourth-place finish at Darlington but then finished 17th at Kansas and 27th at Bristol due to a suspension failure forcing Logano to rely on his Playoff points to help him advance to the Round of 12. In the next round, Logano again started-off strong and faded. He finished runner-up to open the Round of 12 at Texas, but then followed it up with a 27th-place finish at Talladega and an 18th at the Charlotte Road Course scoring just enough points to advance. But all that changed when Logano jumped to the front of the Playoff field with a win in the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas earning the first spot in the Championship 4 Round this season. Logano has been on cruise control ever since, finishing 18th at Homestead-Miami and sixth last week at Martinsville.

Logano’s time to shine in the Valley of the Sun

Of the four drivers vying for the NASCAR Cup Series title this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Team Penske Joey Logano has to be the most thrilled it will be decided on the one-mile oval in the Valley of the Sun, as he has the most experience at the one-mile track (27 starts) and the most wins (two) among the Championship 4.

In total, Logano has made 27 series starts at Phoenix posting two wins (2016, 2020), seven top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish is 13.1, seventh-best in the series, and second among the Championship 4.

Expect Logano to be in the mix this weekend at Phoenix, he is ranked in the top 10 in several key pre-race Loop Data categories with an Average Running Position of 11.287, seventh-best, a Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best, 304 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best and 6,202 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6%), sixth-most.

Crew Chief Corner: The Wolfe in the room 

Paul Wolfe won Team Penske’s first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and now the veteran crew chief has a chance at becoming just the second active crew chief with more than one series title and the 16th different crew chief with multiple Cup championships.

Crew Chiefs with Multiple Championships (1949-2021)
Rank No. of Titles  Crew Chiefs Years
1 8 Dale Inman 1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’79, ’84
2 7 Chad Knaus 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’16
3 4 Kirk Shelmerdine 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91
4 3 Ray Evernham 1995, ’97, ’98
Bud Moore 1957, ’62, ’63
Lee Petty 1954, ’58, ’59
7 2 Adam Stevens 2015, ’19
Greg Zipadelli 2002, ’05
Andy Petree 1993, ’94
Jeff Hammond 1982, ’85
Tim Brewer 1978, ’81
Herb Nab 1976, ’77
Jake Elder 1968, ’69
Carl Kiekhaefer 1955, ’56
Smokey Yunick 1951, ’53
* 15 total NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief champions

Before becoming a crew chief, Paul Wolfe competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driving for car owners Ray Evernham, Armando Fitz, Tommy Baldwin Jr. and Eddie D’Hondt from

2003 – 2005. Wolfe’s first NASCAR crew chief opportunity came at Fitz Bradshaw Racing in 2006. He then moved to Braun Racing in 2008 and then CJM Racing in 2009 before settling at Team Penske in 2010.

In 2010, Wolfe led Brad Keselowski to the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after posting six wins on the season. In 2011 the duo made the leap to the NASCAR Cup Series and in just their second season together in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012), he led Brad Keselowski to the series championship, becoming the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win a NASCAR Cup Series and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship as the duo posted five wins in 2012 in the Cup Series.

From 2011-2019, Keselowski and Wolfe put up 29 wins, 110 top fives and 175 top 10s. The in 2020, Wolfe joined Joey Logano and the No. 22 team and has not missed a beat. Since joining forces, Logano and Wolfe have made 106 start together in the NASCAR Cup Series amassing seven wins, 31 top fives and 51 top 10s. they have qualified for the Playoffs all three seasons of working together and have made the Championship 4 Round twice (2020, 2022).

The Logano-Wolfe pair has combined for the following achievements in 106 NASCAR Cup Series races together since 2020:

  • Two NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 appearances (2020, 2022)
  • Three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs appearances (2020-2022)
  • 7 wins
  • 31 top fives
  • 51 top 10s
  • 1,989 laps led
  • 3 poles

If Wolfe wins the title with Logano this weekend, he will become the fifth different crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series with championships with multiple drivers; joining crew chiefs Bud Moore (Buck Baker 1957 and Joe Weatherly 1962, 1963); Carl Kiekhaefer (Tim Flock 1955 and Buck Baker 1956), Dale Inman (Richard Petty 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 and Terry Labonte 1984); and Tim Brewer (Cale Yarborough 1978 and Darrell Waltrip 1981).

Team Penske’s chance at a third title

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 is comprised of four drivers from four different organizations – Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Team Penske – making this season’s Championship Race one for the ages.

Team Penske last won at Phoenix Raceway in the spring of 2020, but the organization has a total of three wins at the one-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series – Rusty Wallace (1998), Joey Logano (2016 and 2020).

Team Penske is currently tied with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing for the sixth most NASCAR Cup Series championships in the Modern Era (1972-Present) at two each. Team Penske scored its first NASCAR Cup Series championship with driver Brad Keselowski in 2012 and its second with driver Joey Logano in 2018. If Team Penske accomplishes the feat of winning the championship this weekend, they would break the tie with RFK Racing and SHR and become the organization solely in the sixth position among championships with three just behind Petty Enterprises with four (in the Modern Era).

In total, Team Penske has eight NASCAR national series owner championships – two in the NASCAR Cup Series (2012, 2018) and six in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020, 2021).

Total Page Visits: 630 - Today Page Visits: 3

Leave a Comment