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TC Daily Pit Stop: Ross Chastain Wins Phoenix; Blaney Claims Cup Series Tilte; Harvick Rounds Out Stories Career
TC Daily Pit Stop: Monday, November 6th, 2023
Unlike last season, Ross Chastain didn’t come to Phoenix Raceway with a shot at winning the NASCAR Cup Series championship. But, that didn’t stop the Trackhouse Racing driver from visiting victory lane one more time in 2023.
Leading a race-high 157 of 312 laps, Chastain played spoiler to the Championship 4 drivers on Sunday, ending the nine-year streak of drivers having to secure the victory in the final race of the season to win the NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Chastain, who took the lead for the first time during the race’s second stage, had to endure an intense late-race battle with Ryan Blaney, in which the two drivers went shot-for-shot for numerous laps, before the final caution of Sunday’s 312-lap contest.
That final caution, which set up a restart with under 35 laps to go, allowed Chastain to scurry away from the field, as Championship 4 drivers Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson battled it out for the runner-up spot, and what would end up being the championship.
Ryan Blaney, driving the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, would come home in the runner-up position, clinching himself the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship, beating fellow title rival Kyle Larson to the start-finish line by more than two seconds.
All four NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 contenders were looking very closely matched in Stage 2 of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race, but one of the four contenders will not make it to Stage 3 with a shot at the championship.
On Lap 109, Christopher Bell suffered a brake issue, which sent him hard into the outside wall in Turn 3.
Bell says that prior to the incident, he had some signs that there was a problem with the brakes on his race car, but he never expected what happened to happen.
“Well, that was my first time I’ve ever exploded a rotor in my career, so, yeah, I was surprised,” Bell explained. “Early on in the race I had a little bit of brake fade in the first run. In the second run, it just kept getting worse and worse.”
826 starts, 60 wins, 251 top-5 finishes, 444 top-10s, 232,413 laps, 16,058 laps led, and a NASCAR Cup Series championship.
That is the final tally in the NASCAR Cup Series for what will without a doubt be a NASCAR Hall of Fame career for Kevin Harvick, who concluded his NASCAR Cup Series career with an impressive run and solid seventh-place finish in Sunday's Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway.
An already emotional day for Harvick began with a moment that choked the driver up after he climbed from the car at the end of the race. When asked about his children -- Keelan and Piper -- keying the team radio prior to the green flag of Sunday's race, Harvick said, "That's not normal. I know they probably loved that."
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