AVONDALE, Ariz. - Despite Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain winning the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, all eyes were on Ryan Blaney who finished in second place to claim his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Blaney led just twice for two laps but he finished ahead of Kyle Larson (third), William Byron (fourth) and Christopher Bell (36th), which allowed him to claim the highest honor in the premier series.
"Just super proud of the effort by everybody at Team Penske who put tons and tons of hours into hard work," Blaney said. "No one really got down. They just put their heads down and they decided to really put in a lot of work, and it showed up, especially these playoffs, especially the last five weeks. So cool to have all their hard work pay off, so they should be proud."
Blaney's championship not only allowed Ford to sweep NASCAR Championship Weekend with Ben Rhodes (Truck Series champion) and Cole Custer (Xfinity Series champion), but it marked the first time Team Penske won back-to-back titles (Joey Logano, 2022 Cup Series champion).
"To win back-to-back Cup titles for team owner (Roger) Penske, that's so special," Blaney said. "Having my family here, winning my first Cup title, I got emotional in the car. I'm not a very emotional guy."
Results from the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway are listed below.
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP 4 DRIVERS
Kyle Larson wound up third in the race and second in the championship standings.
"My team did a really good job all season," Larson said. "I’m extremely proud of them. We had an up-and-down year, and we finally put together two solid weeks in a row. I don’t know if we’ve done that all year.
"A huge thank you to HendrickCars.com, Team Chevy, Valvoline, Jinya Ramen Bar, everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports, the engine shop, everyone. We’ll come back next year and try to be stronger."
William Byron, who led the Cup Series with six wins in 2023, finished fourth in the race and third in the final standings.
"Just really proud of this No. 24 Axalta Chevy team," Byron said. "It’s been a great season. It stinks to come up short, but I’d like to think we’re going to be back in this position and we’re going to have more shots at it. We just have to keep working."
Christopher Bell had a brake rotor failure early into the race and wrecked his car. He finished 36th in the race and fourth in the championship.
"I’m very proud of the effort put forth by our team to get to the Championship 4, but I do feel like we left a lot on the table at various races throughout the year," Bell said. "I’m excited about the future. We haven’t reached our potential yet."
OTHER RACE FACTS
Ross Chastain won his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet was dominant all day and led 157 laps, while also becoming the first non-Championship 4 driver in the playoff era to win the final race of the season.
"For me, for everybody with Worldwide Express, to end the season like this," Chastain. "We lost Rob Rose (of Worldwide Express) last year, but it’s his vision that started this program. Really for Advent Health, Moose, Jockey, Kubota, all of our partners, there were some questionable times this year, and as we went, we continued to fight and prepare the same. There were some tough days and nights, and sleepless nights, but it made us even hungrier and we brought the thunder this weekend."
NASCAR legend and future Hall of Famer Kevin Harvick wrapped up his 23-year Cup Series career with his 21st straight top-10 finish at Phoenix. Harvick finished seventh and will retire as the last full-time driver who competed in the Winston Cup era.
"It’s kind of a relief, to be honest with you," Harvick said. "There was just so much going on before the race and this week, but it was pretty cool to lead some laps there in the last race. I’m just proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, everybody that works on this car and has worked on this car for a long time. I’ve just got to thank all the fans and NASCAR and my family and everybody for all of the support. It’s been a great ride and I can’t complain.”
The final driver standings from the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season are listed below.
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 31 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen officially clinched the 2023 GRID Ranking World Championship. Verstappen is the seventh different winner and the first to lead the GRID Ranking for the entire season.
MOST RECENT FINISH
Martin Truex Jr.
Week 32 of the GRID Ranking:
William Byron already clinched NASCAR's GRID Rating at Homestead. Despite not winning the Cup Series title, Byron is still the 2023 NASCAR GRID Rating Champion.
The Cup Series heads into the offseason and will return to action with an exhibition race on Feb. 4, 2024, the Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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