The Championship 4 is set.
Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney and William Byron will race for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series title on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
Denny Hamlin, despite finishing third at Martinsville on Sunday, just missed the final field of four after Byron finished 13th, earning just enough points to stay above the cut line.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the NASCAR Cup Series’ four finalists:
Larson has been one of the fastest drivers this year. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Camaro has four wins this season, two of which have come in the playoffs.
Before Bell’s win at Homestead-Miami, he nearly passed Larson during the final laps at Las Vegas.
He said later that week that he felt that may have missed his chance to race in the Championship 4. But an even stronger run the next week had the No. 20 car well ahead of every other driver in the field.
Following the Round of 8-opening race at Las Vegas, Blaney was disqualified before NASCAR rescinded it and restored his points from his sixth-place finish. A second-place finish at Homestead put him in a good position heading into Sunday.
The No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang couldn’t have been much better at Martinsville, winning Stage 2 and grabbing the lead late to win the race.
For much of Sunday’s race, it looked like the field’s wins leader may miss the Championship 4.
But Byron and his field-best six wins have reached the Championship 4 on points. He ran around 20th for much of the race, but ultimately, a 13th-place finish was good enough. He has finished in the Top 10 in all but one playoff race (15th at Kansas).