Avondale, Arizona (AP) – Ross Chastain has stepped up to the infamous motorsport for a wall ride on his way to a NASCAR Championship race With a video game-style movement that overshadowed the end and his fellow title contenders.
With that comes a lot of pressure on an eighth-generation Florida watermelon grower and a NASCAR driver Who previously worked on the side of driving a motorhome to races just to earn extra cash.
This year, his first with Track House for the second year was the breakout the 29-year-old had been chasing for a long time. Chastain’s decision to throw his Chevrolet into a Martinsville Speedway wall and ride it in fourth and final place of the playoff made him a crowd favorite in Sunday’s winner-takes-all final at Phoenix Raceway.
On his 151st start in the Cup, Chastain will race for his first championship.
“There are nerves and there is anxiety and there is fear of failure. How wonderful to feel like this?” he said. “At the moment, it’s not fun, and nerves. I hope they go.”
Christopher Bell was very excited by winning twice in two elimination races to advance to his first championship. Bill is the only Toyota driver in the field.
Joey Logano is the only Ford representative but will try to give Roger Penske both the NASCAR and IndyCar championships in the same season. Will Power won the IndyCar title for Team Penske in September and the organization has never won both championships in the same season.
Lugano, the 2018 champion, knows what he can offer his boss. Penske celebrated his 85th birthday in February when Austin Sendrick won the Daytona 500 for the team.
“I know that’s at stake. The goal is still the same, whether the IndyCar team wins the championship or not,” Lugano said. “We need to do our side of the job. It’s obviously going to be a little cherry over the weekend so we can say we’ve won both.
“Maybe it makes the championship party a little better. Definitely bigger.”
Then there’s Chase Elliott, the 2020 champion who started a streak of two consecutive Hendrick Motorsports Cup championships. Kyle Larson was eliminated in the first round, so Elliott in a Chevrolet is Hendrik’s only chance of winning three consecutive Cup titles.
NASCAR’s most popular driver won the regular season title and led the cup standings most of the year. But he had mediocre playoffs and only won the Talladega – his fifth win of his career this season.
“He had some situations where the car wasn’t as good as we thought, and he was frustrated,” said Rick Hendrick. “You’re running really well in Phoenix, you won that race, you won the championship. He’s excited. He’s ready. We’ll put any of the misfortune or inconsistencies we had before this race behind us because it’s all about Sunday.”
Elliott is the favorite to win the race and the title, According to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The driver out of the four contenders wins the title. Only Elliott and Lugano have participated in the tournament final before. Chastain had never played in the playoffs before, and Bale reached the second round in his first playoff game last year.
Lugano, at 32, is the oldest driver in the championship.
“I think you look at the Cup series specifically, there is a youth movement in NASCAR,” said Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR. “We saw this youth movement a couple of years ago kind of take root. But you have to win, right? Having the young drivers in the Cup Series is one thing, but can they win? They have proven time and time again this year that they can.”
This year’s ranking anomalies could result in the first drivers’ and owners’ championships from the modern NASCAR era.
It’s happened twice before in the Cup Series: Joe Weatherly won the driver’s title in 1963, while Wood Brothers Racing won the team title. In 1954, Lee Petty won the driver’s title and Herb Thomas won the owner’s title.
In Phoenix at the end of the season, Kyle Larson could split the championship.
Why is it important?
NASCAR Owner Points determine financial payments from the Points Fund.
So should Larson, who was knocked out in the second-round playoffs, defend last year’s Phoenix win, the fifth-placed Chevrolet would win the owner’s title for Rick Hendrik. The Drivers’ Championship will go to the driver with the highest achievement among the four contenders, and if that is Elliott, Hendrik will win both titles.
“The ideal situation would be to go out and run one-two and get it together,” Hendrick said. “We will not approach the race differently than we have in any week. Both cars will try to win. We will go out and do our best and see where it all ends. We will try to race to win both cars. That is the plan.”
Two of NASCAR’s top executives gave an update on the state of the industry, addressing everything from the broken-in-call revenue model teams to the official and the new next-generation car.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps hasn’t ruled out expanding the “North and South Frontier” stock car series as news of next year’s street race in Chicago sparked interest from several cities.
The charter system in place with teams expires at the end of the 2024 season and ownership complained last month that NASCAR’s business model no longer worked financially for them. Phelps said the system was a success and working for NASCAR, but he couldn’t guarantee it would continue negotiations with the teams.
“The charter system, while not perfect, works really well,” Phelps said. “We have people who want to have charters in and out of the sport who can’t get them now because the teams are keeping them. Do I think we’re going to extend the charters? I do. Do I think it’s a good thing for the sport? I do.”
NASCAR’s television package with Fox and NBC Sports also expires in 2024 and that deal will likely be finalized before the team’s owners can negotiate a new charter agreement.
“I’m not sure what the future will be for our media partners,” Phelps said. “I know it’s going to pass through NBC and Fox. I have no idea if there are additional people willing to bid and we’ve come to this very point. I know there is a huge amount of interest in NASCAR from those who aren’t our preoccupations. It’s a good thing for our industry. “.