A long look at the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4

On Sunday evening in the Southwest desert, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott or Joey Logano will hoist the NASCAR Cup Series championship trophy.

Sunday’s race, a 312-mile journey around the Phoenix Raceway oval (3 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock), is the 36th point event of the season and the last of 10 races in the playoffs. Bell, Chastain, Elliott and Logano jumped every hurdle to make the Championship 4, and the highest finisher among them will be Cup’s newest champion.

Here’s a look at each of the four entering championship weekend:

CHRISTOPHER BELL

  • 2022 wins: 3

  • 2022 laps led: 573

  • 2022 average finish: 13.91

  • 2022 stage wins: 4

  • Career wins: 4

  • Career average finish: 16.68

The 2022 season is Bell’s third full-time in Cup racing. He won the 2017 Truck Series championship. He advanced to the Cup playoffs last year but was eliminated in the Round of 12. After a slow start this year, Bell blazed a new path in the second half of the season, scoring must-win victories at the Charlotte Roval and Martinsville.

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Crew chief: Adam Stevens is Bell’s not-so-secret weapon. He won Cup titles with Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2019 and has the opportunity to become the seventh different crew chief in Cup history to win three or more championships. He has 32 Cup wins.

ROSS CHASTAIN

  • 2022 wins: 2

  • 2022 laps led: 692

  • 2022 average finish: 13.54

  • 2022 stage wins: 6

  • Career wins: 2

  • Career average finish: 22.21

Chastain is the upstart in this year’s playoffs. In the preseason, few would have predicted he would wind up in the Championship 4. And absolutely no one would have predicted his last-lap charge at Martinsville last weekend to qualify for the Phoenix finale.

Chastain made his NASCAR national series debut in the Truck Series in 2011 and raced in trucks and the Xfinity Series for several teams. He joined Chip Ganassi Racing, which ultimately became Trackhouse Racing, where he scored two wins this year and stirred the pot with aggressive driving, no more so than at Martinsville, when he rode the outside wall for a half-lap to finish high enough to advance.

Crew chief: Phil Surgen made his debut as a crew chief in the Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016. He has worked with Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth and became Chastain’s crew chief last season. In 71 total races together, Surgen and Chastain have 17 top fives and 28 top 10s.

CHASE ELLIOTT

  • 2022 wins: 5

  • 2022 laps led: 857

  • 2022 average finish: 12.03

  • 2022 stage wins: 6

  • Career wins: 18

  • Career average finish: 12.98

Elliott could step into relatively unknown territory with a second Cup championship Sunday. Kyle Busch, with titles in 2015 and 2019, is the only active driver with more than one championship. Elliott won his first in 2020.

He also could join another select group, becoming part of only the third father-son combination to win multiple Cup titles. His father, Bill, won in 1988. Lee and Richard Petty won a total of 10 titles, and Ned and Dale Jarrett won a total of three. Chase has qualified for the playoffs in all seven of his Cup seasons and has reached the final four three consecutive years.

Crew chief: Alan Gustafson has worked with a splendid collection of drivers over the years. That list includes Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. He and Elliott have been teammates since 2016, winning the championship in 2020, and Sunday will mark his fourth appearance in the Championship 4. Gustafson could become the 16th different crew chief to win multiple Cup titles.

JOEY LOGANO

  • 2022 wins: 3

  • 2022 laps led: 597

  • 2022 average finish: 13.83

  • 2022 stage wins: 6

  • Career wins: 30

  • Career average finish: 13.95

It seems not that long ago that Logano drove into NASCAR national series racing with the nickname “Sliced Bread,” as in, “He’s the greatest thing since …” But Logano, at 32, has logged 14 Cup seasons and is the oldest driver in this year’s Championship 4. He has qualified for the playoffs in nine of those 14 seasons, winning the title in 2018. If experience counts, count Logano in.

Crew chief: Paul Wolfe is one of the most respected crew chiefs in the Cup garage. He gave Team Penske its first Cup championship with driver Brad Keselowski in 2012. A former driver in the Xfinity Series, Wolfe moved to the crew chief role in 2006. He and Logano teamed for the first time in 2020. They have reached the Championship 4 twice.

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A long look at the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 originally appeared on NBCSports.com