Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway


Championship Week is here.

Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell will race for the NASCAR Cup Series championship in Sunday’s 312-mile season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

The highest-finishing driver of the final four will win the Cup title.

As the championship is being decided, other drivers will be chasing other things — an additional race win, a first seasonal win or a strong finish to the long season.

Drivers to watch (four in particular) Sunday at Phoenix:


Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead, 2nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: Best career finish in eight starts is second. No laps led.

Chastain is the man of the moment in NASCAR. His last-lap charge to qualify for the Championship 4 lit a fire in the sport and has had fans and industry insiders talking all week. A championship would be the ideal finish to what has been a breakout season for Chastain.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 4th
  • Last three races: 10th at Martinsville, 12th at Homestead, 13th at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: One win, five straight finishes of 11th or better

The playoffs haven’t been kind to Elliott. In nine playoff races, he has two top fives and three top 10s, the lowest in those categories among the final four.

Christopher Bell

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Last three races: Won at Martinsville, 7th at Homestead, 5th at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: Best finish of 9th in five career starts. No laps led.

Bell has been the hero of the playoffs, scoring wins in two elimination races, including last weekend at Martinsville. A victory Sunday would complete a perfect trifecta.

Joey Logano

  • Points position: 1st
  • Last three races: 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead, won at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: 2 career wins

Logano is the “old man” of the final four at 32, and he has won twice at Phoenix. He has led 425 laps in the past six races at the track.


Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 3rd at Martinsville, 17th at Homestead, 28th at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: Six top 10s in past seven starts

Blaney’s search for his first point win of the year makes its final stop. His third-place run at Martinsville ended a streak of three straight finishes of 17th or worse.

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 14th
  • Last three races: 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead, 3rd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: 3 career wins

In what will be his final ride with Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch will be looking for his first victory since the spring race on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt. He hasn’t led a lap in the past five races at Phoenix.

Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 7th
  • Last three races: 2nd at Martinsville, won at Homestead, 35th at Las Vegas
  • Past at Phoenix: 1 career win

How will the defending Cup champion end what has been an odd season? He has won three times but was eliminated from the driver’s title in the Round of 12. However, the No. 5 car is in the owner’s championship and could win that title Sunday.

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins


Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

MORE: Truck points after COTA

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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