Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global
Race report
NASCAR Cup Phoenix II

Chastain wins Phoenix as Blaney claims 2023 NASCAR Cup title

Ross Chastain interrupted the championship battle to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup season finale at Phoenix Raceway as Ryan Blaney claimed his first series title.

Chastain, who was eliminated early in the Cup playoffs and led just one lap in the previous nine races, turned out to be too tough for the 2023 title contenders to handle in Sunday’s race.

The Trackhouse Racing driver led 157 of the 312 laps but lost his lead during the final round of green flag pit stops.

He passed Kyle Larson on a restart with 30 laps to go to reclaim the lead and held off a late charge from Ryan Blaney to earn his second win of the 2023 season and fourth of his career – all coming at Trackhouse.

After Chastain took control of the race, Blaney and Larson engaged in a fierce battle for the runner-up position, which would decide the championship winner. Blaney finally emerged with the position with 19 laps to go.

 

Sunday’s race is the first time since the current playoff format debuted in 2014 that the champion did not win the season finale.

“Just so proud of this team. Unbelievable year, unbelievable playoffs for us,” Blaney, 29, said. “To win back-to-back Cup titles for (team owner Roger) Penske, that’s so special. Having my family here, winning my first Cup title, I got emotional in the car. I’m not a very emotional guy.”

Asked what was going through his mind in the final laps, Blaney said, “No yellow (caution). I didn’t want a caution. Once I got to the white (flag), felt pretty good about it. It’s just about getting there, finishing it off. Didn’t want a yellow. Everyone kept it straight.

“I want to shout-out also Kyle (Larson) and William (Byron), that was fun racing those guys all day, and (Christopher) Bell, unfortunately he broke. Racing those two guys at the end, racing clean, that’s what racing is all about. It was a lot of fun.”

The championship is the second consecutive for Penske. Joey Logano won last season and took a similar path as Blaney to the title – winning one race early in the season and then pulling a pair of critical wins in the playoffs to advance to the title race.

Larson ended up third in the race, Byron was fourth and Chris Buescher rounded out the top five.

Completing the top-10 were Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Michael McDowell and Bubba Wallace.

Read Also:

Stage 1

Byron led all 60 laps but held off a late charge from Harvick and edged him by 0.470 seconds to take the Stage 1 win. Chastain was third, Wallace fourth and title contender Larson rounded out the top five. Championship contenders Bell and Blaney were ninth and 10th, respectively.

Stage 2

Buescher passed Chastain for the lead with 14 of 125 laps remaining and held on for the Stage 2 victory. Harvick was third, Byron fourth, Truex fifth and Blaney, the lowest running of the Championship 4 drivers, was sixth.

Bell was the first of the title contenders to get knocked out of contention when he blew a brake rotor and slammed the wall on Lap 108. His No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota received extensive damage and he took it to the garage, which brought an early end to his race.

 

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Chastain first off pit road. He led Byron and Truex when the race resumed with 119 laps remaining in the race.

With 100 laps to go, Chastain remained out front, but Blaney had moved into second and held a small advantage over Byron for the championship lead.

Byron and Larson were the first to hit pit road on Lap 240 to kick off a round of green flag stops to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race.

Once the cycle of stops was completed, Chastain returned to the lead followed by Blaney and Truex with 58 laps to go.

With just over 50 laps remaining, Blaney briefly took the lead, only to see Chastain grab it back. After the two made contact running side-by-side, Blaney moved back out front. However, Chastain came back again and reclaimed the top spot with 50 to go.

 

Kyle Busch spun off Turn 4 on lap 275 to bring out the fourth caution of the race and send all the lead-lap cars down pit road for new tires.

Hamlin and Erik Jones were the first two off pit road but took on only two new tires. They were followed by Larson, the first car on four tires, Chastain, Byron and Blaney. The race resumed with 31 laps remaining.

After a two-lap battle, Chastain got past Hamlin and Larson to reestablish himself as the leader while Larson tried to fend off Blaney for the championship lead.

Blaney finally ran down Larson to move into second with 19 laps left and take over the championship lead.

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Christopher Bell's title hopes end with early crash
Next article 2023 NASCAR Cup Phoenix finale race results

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global