Phoenix championship race 101: Setting stage for title race, trends, special tire info

The 75th NASCAR Cup Series champion will be crowned Sunday at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as the milestone season comes to a close underneath the desert sun.

Kyle Larson looks to become the latest multi-time Cup champion while Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and William Byron all seek their first title.

Before the action gets underway this weekend, let’s set the stage for the championship race with a short outlook for the four title contenders, trends to watch for Sunday’s showdown and a closer look at the special Goodyear tire that will be raced at Phoenix.

RELATED: See paint schemes for Phoenix | Betting favorites for Sunday’s Cup race


Goodyear will run a special sidewall design for the Phoenix tires. A 75th anniversary logo will be included on all tires for Championship Weekend. 2023 also marked a milestone year for Goodyear as it was the 125th anniversary of the tire company.

The tire setup is different from the Phoenix spring race. This will be the setup that was used at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July to introduce more lap-time fall-off at the 1-mile Arizona track.

Teams will be allotted three sets of tires for practice, one set for qualifying and an additional eight sets for Sunday’s race.

Goodyear side wall
Goodyear side wall

(Via Goodyear Racing)

RELATED: See rules changes for 2023


Phoenix Raceway was built in 1964, and the first NASCAR race was held in 1978 with Richard Petty taking the checkered flag. The first Cup race was held in 1988 and won by Alan Kulwicki, who celebrated with his first ever “Polish Victory Lap.”

Lights were installed at the track in 2004, leading to two races hosted at the track every season in 2005.

Phoenix has undergone two reconfigurations. The first in 2011 introduced the widened dogleg and added progressive banking in Turns 3 and 4. The second configuration moved from the flat straightaway off Turn 2 to just before the dogleg in 2018.

(Via Racing Insights)


Byron, Blaney, Bell and Larson will battle it out for the championship. Byron may enter as the consensus pick given his win in the spring race and that he’s amassed six victories this year, but momentum matters and Blaney is entering Sunday’s race one week after taking the checkered flag at Martinsville.

Blaney also owns four consecutive top-five finishes at Phoenix and has an average finish of 2.7 at the track in the Next Gen era.

Sunday has all the making of a highly-competitive affair as Byron, Bell and Larson all have top-10 finishes at Phoenix in the last two trips to the desert. Qualifying will be a must-watch on Saturday (4:35 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as the four vie for pole position and the all-important No. 1 pit stall.

MORE: Racing Insights’ projections for Sunday


— Six different drivers have won the last six Phoenix races.

— The Stage 1 winner went on to win the last two Phoenix races.

— Toyota has only one win in the last seven Phoenix races.

— Hendrick Motorsports drivers won three of the last six Phoenix Races.

(Via Racing Insights)


1988: Alan Kulwicki wins first Cup race at Phoenix | WATCH

2012: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer wreck, brawl | WATCH

2017: Matt Kenseth wins final race; Elliott, Hamlin rivalry continues | WATCH

2020: Chase Elliott wins first championship race at Phoenix | WATCH


Friday, Nov. 3

— 8:05 p.m. ET: Practice (USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App)

Saturday, Nov. 4

— 4:35 p.m. ET: Qualifying (USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 22

— 3 p.m. ET: Cup Series Championship (NBC, Peacock, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App)

MORE: Full schedule at Phoenix Championship Weekend


Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.

There‘s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.

Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the shop, and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise, and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waving the green flag at qualifying.



NASCAR Mobile has now added support for fans to “Follow the Race” and access live leaderboard and race information from Live Activities in the current app release (v13.2.0), available now. Android users, we didn‘t forget you — the same functionality has been custom-built for Android devices, as well.

How to access Live Activities on iPhones:

  1. Make sure your iOS device has been updated to 16.1 or higher.

  2. Available on the leaderboard of all NASCAR Series races.

  3. Click on the three-dot menu near the top right of the screen.

  4. Select “Follow the Race.”

  5. Swipe up to access the home screen, and you will see the Live Activities at the top.

  6. Lock the device, and you will see Live Activities on the Lock Screen.

  7. To turn it off, simply visit the leaderboard, click the three-dot menu, and “Unfollow the Race.”


Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week, a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter, and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.