AVONDALE, Arizona — The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here – Championship Weekend. It’s time to crown the season champion for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The question is, who does it? While the Championship 4 drivers don’t necessarily have to win Saturday’s race (6 p.m. ET, USA, MRN) in order to take home the championship, trends say otherwise.
5 of the 6 years under this format has seen the champion win the season finale. The only year that they didn’t was in 2017 (William Byron) finished 3rd and took home the title that year.
Really, take anything that you’ve seen the first 32 races and throw it out the window because this 33rd and final race is all about Phoenix and all about who’s good here and can finish first among the four Championship 4 participants.
Weather is also going to be a factor. Last year the race was run as a night time event with the green flag dropping at dusk. This year, the race will likely end at dusk with sunset being a little before 6 p.m. locally and the race beginning at 3 p.m. locally.
How much does that play a role into things?
Also, how much does JR Motorsports having 3 cars in the final round vs. Joe Gibbs Racing have just one play a role? JRM is divided this week while JGR can focus on just Ty Gibbs car. Does that also play a role into things?
Does Gibbs’ perception inside his own building affect things too?
Should Brandon Jones vow payback? I mean his reputation is on the line here in a way that he just showed to the entire NASCAR community that you can run over him and get no confrontation back. With moving to JRM in 2023, he may have to show to the garage that you don’t want to mess with him because right now, what would stop his peers from racing him the way Gibbs did in knowing that you don’t have a fight on your hands after.
In total, there have been 41 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Phoenix Raceway, producing 22 different race winners and 21 different pole winners. William Byron became the track’s youngest winner when he snagged the checkered flag in November of 2017 at 19 years, 10 months and 13 days old. Greg Biffle sits as the track’s oldest winner when he made the trip to Victory Lane in 2009 at 39 years, three months and 25 days old.
Kyle Busch has etched his name in the track’s record books, holding the record for most poles (10), wins (11), top 10s (20), lead lap finishes (23), and laps led (2,234). He also is tied for most top fives with Kevin Harvick at 17 each and holds the qualifying record at 138.504 mph.
This season marks the third time that Phoenix Raceway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race (2020-2022). From 2016 to 2019, the Playoffs’ season finale was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway before it was moved to Phoenix in 2020. Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2016 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, five of the six winners of the Championship Race have also claimed the championship that season – Daniel Suarez (2016), Tyler Reddick (2018, 2019), Austin Cindric (2020) and Daniel Hemric (2021).
|Track||Championship Race Winners||Date||Race No.|
|Homestead||Daniel Suarez||Saturday, November 19, 2016||33|
|Homestead||Cole Custer||Saturday, November 18, 2017||33|
|Homestead||Tyler Reddick||Saturday, November 17, 2018||33|
|Homestead||Tyler Reddick||Saturday, November 16, 2019||33|
|Phoenix||Austin Cindric||Saturday, November 7, 2020||33|
|Phoenix||Daniel Hemric||Saturday, November 6, 2021||33|
- 7 straight race winners here have come from the top 8 of the starting lineup
- 28 of the las 29 race winners were in the top 8 too
- 0 pole winners in the last 11
- Since stages were implemented, every race winner scored points in the first stage with 5 of the last 6 finishing either 1st or 2nd
- 6th, 6th, 3rd, 10th, 3rd, 2nd, 10th, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd
- They’ve also scored stage points in all but one second stage including 3 of the last 4 them winning it and 7 of the last 8 being in the top 4 at the second stage break.
- 2nd, 6th, X, 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 7th, 1st, 4th, 1st, 1st
- The No. 9 car for JRM has won 3 of the last 8 series champions, all by different drivers too (Chase Elliott 2014, William Byron 2017, Tyler Reddidck 2018)
- There’s been 4 straight different organizations to win the title
- JR Motorsports (2018), Richard Childress Racing (2019), Team Penske (2020), Joe Gibbs Racing (2021). That obvoiusly ends on Saturday.
- This is the 1st year since 2018 that we’ve had teammates fighting for a championship (Gragson, Berry)
- 2019: JGR, SHR, RCR, JRM
- 2020: SHR, Penske, Kaulig, JRM
- 2021: JRM, Penske, JGR, Kaulig
- 2022: JRM, JRM
- 4 of the top 5 seeds in the playoffs made it to the Final Round
- 2016: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 7
- 2017: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4
- 2018: No. 2, No. 4, No. 5, No. 7
- 2019: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 6
- 2020: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 6
- 2021: No. 1, No. 2, No. 4, No. 6
- 2022: No. 1, No. 2., No. 3, No. 5
- The No. 1 seed has made it to the final round in 6 of the 7 years, but in the previous 6 instances, they have just 1 championship. In fact, the top seed remaining entering the final round has just 1 title between them. The best odds are the third out of four seeds entering the final round with three titles. Last year, the last seed among the four won. So, despite the top 2 seeds being the clear favorites, don’t assume they’ll win the championship.
- 2016: No. 3
- 2017: No. 1
- 2018: No. 5
- 2019: No. 3
- 2020: No. 2
- 2021: No. 6
- 9 Gragson – The choice is obvious but is it too obvious? The Las Vegas native has 13 top 10 finishes in the last 14 races run on the season including a top 3 finish in 7 of the last 9 at that. He also was runner-up in this very race in 2020 and won in the spring race too.
- 16 Allmendinger – He was in this moment last year and organizations trends say that he’ll win. He and Gragson have combined to have won 7 of the last 9 races on the season. He has 12 top 7 results in the last 14 races as well as 9 top 4’s in that same span. He has 2 top 10’s in 5 career Phoenix starts, both coming in the last 3, but no finish better than 5th.
- 19 Jones – He has 3 top 3’s including a win in 2020 and a runner-up this past March on this track. He’s after a payback this weekend.
- 8 Berry – He has 9 top 10 finishes in his last 12 starts on the season. However, he also only has 3 top 5’s over the last 15 races too. He was 36th and 3rd in his two Phoenix starts.
- 54 Gibbs – His only drawback is that he’s scored just 2 wins in his last 16 starts. However, he does have 12 top 8 finishes in the last 14 and has been in the top 7 (3rd, 7th, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 1st) in the playoffs. Gibbs was runner-up in his first Phoenix start and sixth in the other. He has 1 career lap led here. I just don’t think the JRM trio nor his own teammate lets him by.
- 98 Herbst – 5 top 11 finishes in his last 6 including a pair of 4th place finishes last year here.
- 11 Hemric – 6 top 10’s in 9 tries here including a win a year ago and 8th this past March.
- 7 Allgaier – He has 3 top five finishes in the last 7 races, but those came in the last 4 weeks too. At Phoenix, he’s made 24 starts with two wins, 8 top 5 finishes and 16 top 10’s. The only thing is, he’s only had 2 top 5’s in his last 8 at Phoenix too.
- 1 Mayer – He has 9 straight top 11 finishes but is 0-for-50 in his career in terms of victories and has finished 13th and 22nd in his pair of Phoenix starts.
- 21 Hill – He was only 17th in the spring race here.