The NASCAR Cup Series championship came down to four drivers — Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell — and only one left Phoenix Raceway as the champion.
Blaney was able to pass Larson and hold him off for the final 30 laps to win the NASCAR Championship. He finished second in the race as Ross Chastain took the race win.
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The No. 12 Ford needed to find a way to get around Larsson, and it did just that.
Larson took the championship lead from the pits with about 30 laps remaining after a Kyle Busch spin out. Larson challenged Chastain for the race lead on the restart, but the No. 1 car took a commanding lead as the event went down to the wire.
No. 5 then had to defend Blaney. But it was Blaney who was able to pass Larson with 20 laps remaining in the race. Blaney then began to keep his composure with 10 laps remaining in the race. Byron, at this point, was about 4.5 seconds behind Chastain and about 2 seconds behind Blaney and Larson.
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It is the second straight title for Team Penske. The group won the championship last year when Joey Logano won the Cup Series title.
It’s Blaney’s first career championship. He won three races this season and finished second to Chastain. He won last week’s race at Martinsville last weekend to solidify a spot in the Championship Four.
Bell’s day ended early.
On Lap 109, Bell’s rotor broke off and hit the wall. He failed to get back on track and was eliminated from championship contention.
“That was the first time I’ve had a blown rotor in my career,” Bell told NBC Sports afterward, adding that his problems continued to get worse as the day went on.
Blaney was second in the race and Larson finished third. Byron finished in fourth place. Bell was 36th.
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Now, the countdown is on for The Clash and the Daytona 500.