NASCAR Championship 4 preview, stats, predictions, odds for Phoenix originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
It all comes down to this.
After 35 races, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has reached its finale at Phoenix Raceway.
Following nine playoff races, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell will compete for the title in Sunday’s Championship 4. The race will air live on NBC and Peacock at 3 p.m. ET, with pre-race coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
So, how do these drivers stack up? And who is the favorite to bring home the Bill France Cup? Here’s a full preview for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship:
Who is in the NASCAR Championship 4?
Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell qualified for the Championship 4.
Like always, there will be 36 drivers competing in the race at Phoenix. But only those four are championship-eligible. So, whoever crosses the finish line first after 312 laps will be crowned the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series champion.
How did those drivers get to the Championship 4?
All four drivers won races in the regular season to clinch a playoff berth. From there, they each navigated through three playoff rounds to reach the finale.
Joey Logano was the first driver to make the Championship 4 after winning the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. Logano will be making his fifth Championship 4 appearance (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020)
Christopher Bell was the second driver to qualify after winning the Round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30. He was in a must-win position entering the race, and he delivered a thrilling victory to earn his first career Championship 4 berth.
Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott qualified for the Championship 4 based on their point totals. It took a last-gap, video game move from Chastain at Martinsville to seal his first career Championship 4 bid. Elliott, meanwhile, used his regular season bonus points to secure enough points to qualify for his third straight Championship 4.
Championship 4 driver stats for 2022
Statistically speaking, these four drivers have been among the best all season. Here are the numbers, with their series rank in parenthesis:
How do the championship drivers perform at Phoenix?
Phoenix has hosted the Championship 4 race since 2020. Prior to 2020, it hosted the penultimate race of each season from 2005 to 2019. The track also hosts an annual spring race, which gives drivers another opportunity to master the one-mile, low-banked tri-oval.
Logano won the 2018 championship, but that race was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has two wins at Phoenix in his career (fall 2016, spring 2020). In 27 career starts at Phoenix, Logano has two wins, seven top-fives, 15 top-10s, 721 laps led and a 13.1 average finish. He finished eighth at the spring race earlier this season.
Elliott won the first Championship 4 race at Phoenix in 2020 to claim his first and only title. He has one win, five top-fives, eight top-10s 546 laps led and a 10.7 average finish in 13 Phoenix starts. He led 50 laps but finished 11th in the spring race.
Bell has marginal results at Phoenix in his young career. In five career starts, he has two top-10s, no laps led and a 17.0 average finish. Bell finished two laps down in 26th at the spring race after spinning out during the second stage.
Chastain has had the least success at Phoenix, with just one top-10 in eight starts. Luckily for him, that one came earlier this year when he finished second. Chastain’s average finish at Phoenix is 20.5, but most of those starts came in lesser equipment before he joined Trackhouse Racing.
Odds to win the 2022 NASCAR championship
When it’s a one-race battle between four drivers, it’s hard to consider any of them a heavy favorite. That’s reflected in the odds to win the championship, courtesy of our partner PointsBet:
Chase Elliott, +190
Christopher Bell, +290
Joey Logano, +305
Ross Chastain, +315
It’s not surprising to see Elliott as the favorite – he has the best Phoenix stats, the most wins this season and won the regular season championship. But he has been the worst of the four throughout the playoffs, while Chastain has arguably been the best (albeit without any wins). Bell and Logano, meanwhile, have a tendency to deliver in the clutch based on their recent victories.
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.
NASCAR playoffs, Championship 4 predictions
It’s been nearly impossible to handicap this NASCAR season from the jump. A rookie won the Daytona 500. There’s been a record-tying 19 different race winners so far. A driver willingly slammed into the wall to make the Championship 4. You get the picture.
Elliott has been the best driver all season, with five wins and over 800 laps led. He’s accumulated the most points throughout the first 35 races, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to the Championship 4. Based on his recent form – or lack thereof – the 26-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver feels like the biggest longshot to win it all.
Bell, with walk-off wins in the playoffs at Charlotte and Martinsville, clearly can perform under pressure. It’s been a breakout season for the 27-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who entered 2022 with just one career win. If you believe in momentum, Bell is the obvious pick.
Speaking of momentum, Chastain rode the wall at Martinsville into the Championship 4. He will do whatever it takes to win – no one can question that now. In his first playoff appearance, the 29-year-old Chastain looks the part of a future champion despite entering 2022 with no career wins.
My pick for this title fight is Logano, who bookends the year after winning the season-opening Clash at the L.A. Coliseum back in February. At 32, he’s the oldest driver in the field and his four previous Championship 4 appearances give him an experience edge. While he hasn’t been the most dominant driver this season, Logano knows how to win when he needs to – and he’s not afraid to get aggressive. The driver of the No. 22 will win his second championship in 2022.