NASCAR Power Rankings: Joey Logano finishes on top after championship win

NASCAR Power Rankings: Logano finishes on top after championship win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Joey Logano finished the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season where he started it – in victory lane.

The 32-year-old Team Penske driver sealed his second career championship on Sunday with a dominant performance at Phoenix Raceway. He led 187 of 312 laps, including the final 30.

The other three title contenders had various struggles throughout the race. Ross Chastain finished third, just over a second behind Logano, while Christopher Bell crossed the line 10th. Chase Elliott finished 28th, two laps down after an accident in the final stage.

So, who was the driver to beat this season? Here’s our final power rankings of 2022:

1. Joey Logano

Last week: 2

Leading up to the race, it was clear that Logano had a mental edge over his competitors – which is part of why I picked him to win. The veteran asserted his dominance all weekend, winning the pole, leading over half the race and never really facing a legitimate challenge from the other three. Logano, 32, is now a two-time champion with 31 career wins – easily Hall of Fame-worthy with the potential to be a top-10 driver of all-time at his current pace.

2. Ross Chastain

Last week: 1

For a moment, it looked like Chastain was in position to pull off another video game move at Phoenix. He was just too far behind Logano in third though, and Chastain said the track shape wouldn’t have made it as successful. Still, finishing second in the championship is a huge step for a second-year team in Trackhouse Racing. Chastain isn’t going anywhere.

3. Chase Elliott

Last week: 4

Elliott looked to be one of Logano’s biggest threats, especially when he pulled ahead of him in the final stage. But his hopes at a second championship were dashed when Chastain got into him on a restart, sending the 2020 champ spinning into the wall. He limped around to finish fourth in the standings after winning a series-best five races in 2022.

4. Christopher Bell

Last week: 3

Bell and the rest of Joe Gibbs Racing gutted through a tragic day, after Coy Gibbs – Joe’s 49-year-old son and JGR’s COO – died in his sleep overnight. On the track, Bell’s No. 20 was just a tick slower than he needed it. A slow pit stop during the final caution threw away any shot Bell had at winning his first championship.

5. Ryan Blaney

Last week: 8

Blaney had a similarly fast car as his teammate Logano, leading 109 laps and finishing the race in second. It looked like he possibly could’ve been more aggressive racing Logano for the win, but he wisely was cautious to secure a title for the organization. Blaney finishes the season winless for the first time since 2016.

6. Denny Hamlin

Last week: 5

For the ninth time in 10 playoff races, Hamlin finished in the top 10. He was eighth at Phoenix to cap off an ultra-consistent postseason run, which gave him the fifth-place spot in the standings behind the Championship 4 drivers. Hamlin, who turns 42 later this month, is still searching for the elusive title despite winning 48 career races.

7. Kyle Larson

Last week: 6

This season will be remembered as a letdown after winning 10 times in 2021, but that’s only because of the standard Larson is now held to. He won three races and had 19 top-10s, including a ninth-place run at Phoenix to finish the year with three straight top-10s.

8. William Byron

Last week: 7

Inconsistency was the name of the game for Byron in 2022. He started off strong, with two wins in the first eight races. The team quickly tailed off, though, finishing with just 11 top-10s after scoring 20 in 2021. Byron was sixth at Phoenix, so perhaps the No. 24 team can carry some momentum into next season.

9. Chase Briscoe

Last week: 9

Briscoe nearly pulled off the Phoenix sweep this season after winning in March, but he finished fourth on Sunday. He led 11 laps and came off pit road with the lead for the final restart, but Logano and Blaney were just too quick. Next year, Briscoe needs to channel his playoff consistency throughout the regular season.

10. Kevin Harvick

Last week: first four out

The Phoenix master scored his 19th straight top-10 in the desert on Sunday, which set a record for most consecutive top-10s at a single track. Harvick was fifth when the checkered flag flew. After two wins and 17 top-10s in 2022, the 46-year-old Harvick still has plenty left in the tank.

First four out: Martin Truex Jr., Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, A.J. Allmendinger