NASCAR Cup Series Recap: Phoenix

Story posted November 10, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Kasey Kreider

The NASCAR Cup Series Championship race at the Phoenix Raceway came down to four drivers fighting over the course of 312 laps to become the sport’s champion.

But one competitor rose far above the others when it mattered the most, as Joey Logano dominated much of Sunday’s race to claim the race win, and with it his second NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Logano, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott were the four drivers who were vying for the Bill France Cup.

Logano put his No. 22 Team Penske Ford on the pole in Saturday’s qualifying session, while Elliott, Bell and Chastain timed in fifth, 17th, and 25th, respectively.

The stage was then set for Sunday’s title fight, but on the morning of the event, the mood turned somber. News of the unexpected passing of Coy Gibbs swept through the garage area.

Gibbs had served as the vice chairman for Joe Gibbs Racing, and was the son of Joe and father to Ty Gibbs, who had won the NASCAR Xfinity Series title the night before. Ty was scheduled to compete in Sunday’s race as well, but withdrew and was replaced by Daniel Hemric after news of his father’s passing had broken.

With heavy hearts, Bell and the rest of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates raced on, and the green flag waved to start the 36th and final points-paying race of the season.

Nearly the race’s entire first half was led by Logano, as he dominated to win Stage 1 and led the majority of Stage 2, only briefly losing the lead to Cole Custer through a sequence of pit strategy.

But on lap 159, Logano’s Team Penske teammate – Ryan Blaney – took control and grabbed the lead. Looking for his first win of the season in the year’s final event, Blaney led the rest of the race’s middle stanza and grabbed the second stage victory.

Even while losing the lead of the race, Logano was still in good shape for the title, so long as he finished in front of Bell, Chastain and Elliott. While the other three hadn’t provided much of a challenge early, they began working into striking distance as the race wound toward its conclusion.

One of the race’s defining moments occurred on a lap 200 restart, when Chastain restarted behind Elliott and had a run to the inside through the frontstretch dogleg. Elliott pulled down to block the move, but Chastain didn’t lift, sending the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet spinning into the inside wall.

While Elliott’s crew was able to repair the car enough for him to continue in the race, Elliott’s clearly wounded vehicle was unable to keep pace and fell two laps down, taking him out of the title battle.

Over the second-to-last green-flag run, the battle appeared to be between Logano and Bell, as the two ran in fourth and fifth on the racetrack and Logano fended off a brief challenge from the No. 20 Toyota.

But a caution for Alex Bowman’s crash with 45 laps to go set up the final pit stops, and a disastrous stop for Bell left him mired in traffic.

So the last driver left to challenge Logano was Chastain, and after the two drivers restarted third and seventh, respectively, both tried to pick their way through the field.

Logano found his way back to lead with 29 laps to go, and brought his teammate Blaney with him to second. But Chastain eventually moved up to third and looked to be the fastest car on the racetrack through the closing laps.

But the 2.5-second gap that Chastain had to erase over the final 19 laps proved to be too much, and there would be no “Hail Melon” move this time.

It was a performance worthy of a champion, as Logano fended off Blaney to ensure that the No. 22 team reigned supreme in 2022.

Kasey Kreider is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email