20 dazzling red carpet photos of drivers at the 2022 NASCAR Awards

NASCAR drivers traded their fire suits for tuxedos on the red carpet.

The 2022 NASCAR Awards were Thursday night in Nashville — although the event won’t air until Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Peacock.

The sport’s top drivers traded their fire suits for tuxedos and dazzled on the red carpet before the big night officially began.

While the night was about celebrating the season and 2022 Cup Series champion Joey Logano, another big award was handed out with Chase Elliott being named NASCAR’s most popular driver for the fifth consecutive year — to the surprise of absolutely no one. He’s the fifth driver to win it at least five times, but he has a while before he could match his father Bill Elliott’s 16 wins.

Here’s a look at 20 stunning red carpet photos from the 2022 NASCAR Awards.

MORE NASCAR:

NASCAR Superlatives 2022: We polled drivers to see what they think of everyone else

For The Win polled NASCAR drivers to see what they think about their competitors on and off the track.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season ended Sunday with Joey Logano winning his second championship after taking the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway. And the end of the season means it’s time for For The Win’s annual NASCAR Superlatives.

Throughout the last several weeks, we polled 13 drivers with the same 10 questions about their competitors’ skills behind the wheel, as well as their personalities away from the track.

Obviously, there have been numerous examples this year of drivers being furious and frustrated with each other, but some of them are friends who have been racing against each other for a while. Our annual investigation reveals what some of them really think about each other.

Here’s what some of NASCAR’s top drivers had to say about each other this year. And if you’re curious about previous editions…

NASCAR Superlatives: 20212020, 2019, 2018, 2017

These answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.

1. Which driver who is not a champion will be a champion at some point?

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Daniel Suárez: You’re talking to him.

Joey Logano: Probably Ryan Blaney. I see the improvement he’s made over the last few years, and he’s got a ton of speed. So I’d say he’s getting closer and closer. He’s consistently in the Round of 8 every year for the last few, so I’d say he’s on the brink of making it to the Championship 4.

Bubba Wallace: Ryan Blaney.

Chase Elliott: Ryan Blaney.

Ryan Blaney: I don’t want to say myself because that would be too obvious of like, boosting your own ego. But obviously you want see yourself win a championship. Other than me, [William] Byron has been strong. Obviously, Denny Hamlin has kind of been on the verge of one for a long time.

Austin Cindric: It’s hard to not say Denny Hamlin. He’s come very close, and I think he’s probably the most realistic answer.

Ross Chastain: Ross Chastain.

Kyle Larson: William Byron. I feel like he’s very driven, very focused, works really hard and has a lot of talent, mentally is pretty tough. He just seems like a NASCAR champion.

Martin Truex Jr.: Christopher Bell.

Alex Bowman: William Byron.

Brad Keselowski: I’m going to say William Byron. He’s growing, he’s maturing, he’s with a great team. I think it will click, it just hasn’t yet.

William Byron: I’d first like to say myself, selfishly. There’s a lot of options there. Denny Hamlin comes to mind. If he’s not a champion really soon, I think he’ll be a champion, just the way that he is able to run consistently well. And I think he’s an intelligent race car driver and knows how to put himself in position towards the end of the year to have a chance to win in this format.

Harrison Burton: I think there’s a lot of good young guys that haven’t won one yet. But I think a good one would probably be William Byron. He’s been fast a lot, won a lot of races, so he’ll probably end up being [a champion] one day.

2. Which driver who hasn’t won the Daytona 500 will win it at some point?

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Suárez: Same question, same answer, me.

Chastain: Ross Chastain.

Wallace: Us! It’s funny, [Ryan] Blaney’s also had two or three second-place finishes, so we’re kind of tied on that scenario. But I’m gonna go with myself.

Elliott: Same guy for me, [Blaney]. He’s finished second about 10 times.

Blaney: Either myself or I think Chase Elliott. He runs pretty good at superspeedways.

Truex: [Laughs] I want to say me.

Bowman: Probably also William Byron.

Larson: Ryan Blaney, for sure. I think he’s just a really good superspeedway racer and is in contention a lot of times. All drivers, they’ll probably mostly say Ryan Blaney.

Cindric: Ryan Blaney.

Logano: Pick one, anyone could win.

Byron: I’d say Ryan Blaney because I think he’s really good at the superspeedway races. He’s always, always at the front. He’s very aggressive, knows how to make the right decisions and stuff. He’s been close already.

Burton: That’s a hard, hard race to win. I think Ryan Blaney will probably get one soon.

Keselowski: Shoot, the last three years, I’ve been in the top-3 in the last few laps and gotten wrecked or something’s happened. Just gotta keep [getting into position] and eventually it’ll happen.

3. Which driver has the best social media personality?

Suárez: Oh my god, you want to have the same answer for every question?

Blaney: [Kevin] Harvick’s been cracking me up here the last couple months, which has been fun to watch. He’ll get all sassy with everybody, and I get a good chuckle out of that. He and Hamlin have a really funny Twitter. I love waking up and seeing [Harvick] go on rants the next morning. I love reading all through it.

Bowman: Me or Noah Gragson.

Chastain: Not Ross Chastain. Pretty much anybody but [me]. I honestly don’t even have a good working knowledge of what people are posting.

Logano: Can I pick myself? I pick myself because I like cars.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CfaMwfjpZ0y/

Wallace: Depends on what you’re going for. First ones that come to mind are Denny, Kyle [Busch], myself.

Byron: I don’t think any of us are that great at it, I’ll be honest. Bubba comes to mind. He’s probably the most comfortable with social media, I would say, so his personality comes across. I would look at it as who’s the most authentic? Whose personality is really showing? And I think he’s the most authentic on there, speaks his mind.

Keselowski: I like Erik Jones. I like that he does the reading to the kids thing and all that. That’s pretty cool.

Larson: Probably Denny [Hamlin]. Over the last probably three or four or five years, he’s really stepped up, it seems, his social media stuff, and he’s pretty funny on there. He does do, I would say, a lot of it himself, but I know his social media guy, and he’s pretty witty with all that too.

Cindric: I don’t really like Twitter. I use it, but I don’t like it. I like Instagram a lot better. But I don’t know.

Burton: I don’t follow them all. So I don’t know. I would say my dad, Jeff Burton. He’s killing his Instagram game recently. For an old guy, he’s doing pretty good.

4. Which driver has the best sense of humor?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Truex: I got nothing.

Bowman: Definitely me. Dry as the desert.

Blaney: Bubba [Wallace] and Chase [Elliott]. I think you get different personalities out of people away from their job. It’s kind of hard to judge somebody from how they act at the race track or something because a lot of times, you’re you’re dead-set focused on the task at hand, and it’s hard to kind of really let loose or joke around too much. Everyone’s personality is very different away from the race track.

Wallace: Myself.

Chastain: Ryan Blaney. It’s dry, but I think I understand it though. Most people probably don’t.

Keselowski: Blaney. He’s just a fun guy to be around, and he’s chill.

Elliott: Skip.

Logano: This used to be the Clint Bowyer answer back in the day. Can I pick myself again? I can’t keep picking myself [laughs].

Cindric: Kevin Harvick has a pretty dry sense of humor, which I always enjoy. Sometimes it’s at the expense of something or someone else, but it’s Kevin Harvick.

Byron: Kyle Busch kind of has a pretty funny sense of humor. Like, when I drove for for [Kyle Busch Motorsports], I always thought he was kind of funny. He’s pretty brash, but it’s kind of funny sometimes because he’s so unfiltered.

Suárez: Probably Noah Gragson.

Burton: Todd Gilliland is the guy that probably makes me laugh the most in the garage. He’s a rookie, so I hang out with him quite a bit. And yeah, he’s funny as heck, that’s for sure.

Larson: The first name that came to my mind was Corey LaJoie. He’s really funny and quick.

NASCAR’s Noah Gragson won at Bristol, vomited and shotgunned a White Claw opened with a gladiator sword

5. Which driver is most likely to drop an f-bomb in a live TV interview?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: Typically, I’d say Kyle Busch, but he seems like he’s cleaned it up a little lately. Kevin [Harvick] is not likely anymore either. Those are two likely candidates back in the day. Bubba [Wallace] maybe?

Suárez: Probably me! I did that a few times after I won.

Cindric: Kyle Busch.

Keselowski: Yeah, probably Kyle Busch.

Chastain: Darrell Wallace.

Elliott: [Kevin] Harvick.

Byron: Oh, for sure [Kyle Busch]. I think that’s already happened. He’s for sure halfway there, if not already there.

Burton: Kyle Busch, I’d say it’s a good guess.

Truex: Kyle Busch.

Larson: Probably Noah Gragson.

Wallace: Noah Gragson.

Bowman: Noah Gragson.

Blaney: Man, I think any of us are capable of it. It’s just a matter of how upset you are. But I feel like that’s a big one to drop. I could see dropping a number of other cuss words, so you really have to mean it to drop that one. I could see Kyle Busch dropping one, but he hasn’t yet, I don’t believe, in his whole career, so maybe he won’t.

6. Which driver has had the most surprising season?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Truex: I would say Ross Chastain because they just consistently perform well, and they’re still a fairly new team.

Keselowski: Ross Chastain. He’s still in the final four, and I guess I probably didn’t see that coming.

Blaney: Chastain’s had a really good first year at Trackhouse. Not surprising, he’s doing well, but I think he’s, you know, run better than people have thought in his first year over there. Another one who I’m surprised hasn’t run better or won like they’re used to doing is [Martin] Truex.

Cindric: Daniel Suárez. He’s been in the sport for a while and, quite honestly, in very capable cars. And whether he’s grown or he’s in a great situation or he wasn’t in good situations before, I feel like it’s kind of his third attempt at being in a top team, and he’s done very well with it.

Wallace: Probably Briscoe. Obviously got that win at Phoenix [in the spring], and the Stewart-Haas [Racing] cars haven’t been that great all year. But the last 10 races, he’s gotten hot at the right time.

Byron: Definitely Ross Chastain. I assumed he would be a playoff contender, for sure, based on how he ran the 42. But I felt like it would just be a steady progression from last year and the 42 car. Those guys, as soon as the season started, have been contenders and been difficult and hard to beat basically a lot of tracks.

Suárez: My team as a whole — not just myself but my teammate as well. Trackhouse as a whole, more [successful] than most people expected. We are having some good success and that has been very, very good.

Bowman: Ross Chastain. I just didn’t see that much success coming this year. They’ve been really strong, and I know Ross is really good. I just didn’t expect them to do what they’ve done.

Logano: This whole year’s been a surprise. Kurt Busch is one who comes to my mind, not for good reasons. Obviously, the win early in the year was great, but his whole year is just a surprise probably to all of us.

Burton: Chase Briscoe is having a really good year. Not that it’s surprising, I guess, because he’s won a lot of races in Xfinity, but he’s done a really good job from last year to this year, making it as far as he has in the playoffs and getting good finishes when he hasn’t run well. I feel like there are days where he’ll run towards the back and then find a way to finish up front, which is really hard to do in this series.

Larson: Surprisingly good — great! — Ross Chastain. I knew he was going to be good. I wasn’t surprised to see them strong early in the year, but I thought that that team might tail off as the season got on. But they haven’t. Surprisingly not good — not that he hasn’t been great because he’s been in contention a lot — but Martin Truex. I’m just surprised that they haven’t won.

Chastain: Ross Chastain. I’ve never won races. I’d only finished in the top-5 three times in my career before this year, and now we’ve done it [15] times. Brand-new team, new ownership and two drivers that had never competed at the front consistently, and we’ve done that this year. I’m a [watermelon] farmer, so it’s surprising that I can drive a race car.

7. You’re leading the race and there are two laps left; which driver would you want behind you?

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Blaney: None of them. I don’t think you want any of them within a car length or two of you.

Logano: All of them.

Elliott: No one. I hope they’re far enough away or nobody’s close to you.

Wallace: I’ll go with Blaney.

Bowman: I don’t care.

Truex: Probably Kyle Busch, just because I know he’d race with respect. We have a good relationship, and we always race well together. Very, very hard racing, but clean and fair.

Byron: A teammate would be better than than others probably. So I’d say maybe Chase [Elliott] or Alex [Bowman] or Kyle [Larson]. Any of those three would be a good one to have.

Larson: I guess it depends on the race track, but I don’t I don’t really care. I guess any of them.

Suárez: For a comfortable situation, I’d say my teammate, Ross [Chastain].

Keselowski: Probably Chris Buescher. He’s a good teammate.

Burton: Another rookie, probably Todd Gilliland or Austin Cindric, I’d say, because I feel like we’re all in the same boat. So we’ll be in good shape there.

Chastain: Line ’em up however they want, doesn’t matter.

8. You’re leading the race and there are two laps left; which driver do you absolutely not want behind you?

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: I really don’t care. You’ve got to beat them all, so it doesn’t matter. Whoever, I don’t think it makes a difference, honestly. Everybody’s gonna be willing to do something to win a race, and what they’re willing to do is sometimes pretty fluid. I think you treat them all the same because you just don’t know.

Truex: I guess best chance of getting run into would be Joey Logano.

Elliott: I’m good with any of them, no issues.

Wallace: Let’s go with Logano.

Suárez: A driver that is in a must-win situation, that has a lot of pressure. Any of the drivers that are in the playoffs that are below the cutline, those guys, they have to do whatever they have to do. If I was in their position, I would do the same thing. Those guys, it’s not good to have them behind me because they will have to do dumb moves to do whatever they have to do to get the job done.

Keselowski: Probably Chase Briscoe. the last few times he’s been running second with like two or three laps to go, he’s wrecked the leader — in case you were wondering the rationale.

Bowman: Ross [Chastain] is just gonna ride the wall, so maybe not Ross.

Byron: Man, I don’t want any of them behind me. But I don’t think really any of them intimidate me, per se. I think some are more strategic than others. It just depends on the situation. I can’t pick one there.

Blaney: It doesn’t really matter. To me, you kind of understand and you race around guys enough to where you know who will be more aggressive than others. But this year, everyone’s been really aggressive, so you never know.

Burton: I think I don’t want Ross Chastain behind me because I feel like he’s gonna probably put me in a spot where I’m gonna either have to crash us both, or crash him to try and win. So it’s gonna be crazy at the end if he’s right behind you.

Larson: Seems like Ross Chastain — and I’m not saying this on the on the part that he would crash you for the win — I just feel like he’s really good right now, and he’s really fast. He understands traffic really well. I feel like he does the best job of passing.

Cindric: Ross Chastain. Probably a popular answer.

Chastain: I don’t discriminate. Pick anybody you want, put them right behind me. That’s fine by me.

NASCAR drivers’ and spotters’ real-time reactions to Ross Chastain’s wild Martinsville move are pure gold

9. Which driver is most likely to believe in wild conspiracy theories?

(Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Blaney: Oh, gosh, Chase [Elliott]. This was when we were living in the same apartment complex together in North Carolina years ago, like 2015. He’d go down rabbit holes of conspiracy theories all the time. And I’d be over at his apartment sitting there, and he’d just go into a deep dive. I don’t know if he’s still that way or not. But back in 2015, ’16, Chase was a big conspiracy theorist on the aliens, government schemes, all this kind of stuff. And I wasn’t really interested in them. But yeah, he was pretty big into it a handful of years ago.

Wallace: Brad Keselowski.

Logano: Brad [Keselowski] will read the conspiracy theories, for sure, and get fairly deep into stuff before he realizes what the heck’s going on.

Byron: Oh man, I’d say Brad Keselowski. He comes across that way on social media, I think. He definitely reads into things for sure. So I would say him. I’ve seen him do some things with his methods, [like] when he goes out to qualify, he’ll do something different than everybody else.

Bowman: Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski: Me. I’m assuming everybody else has answered me.

Larson: Kyle Busch, for sure. Kyle or Kurt — either of the Buschs.

Burton: I don’t really know why, but the first guy that came to my mind is Denny Hamlin.

Elliott: Tyler Reddick. He just strikes me as a conspiracy theorist maybe, I don’t know.

Cindric: Oh, Michael McDowell. I’ve got a hunch, I’ll leave it at that.

Chastain: Michael McDowell. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. I know him well, and so I can say this: He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a little different, little out there in some ways. I love him. I love everything about him and what he stands for and being his friend. But you give him a few crumbs of maybe truth, and he’s gonna run with it.

10. Which driver is having the largest impact on the sport this season?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: Kurt Busch. Kurt, right now, has a very loud voice, and he has more time than anybody to focus on the health of our sport and health of our drivers and health and the safety of our cars. And he has taken the ball and run with it. And we all should be appreciative for what Kurt’s been doing for us lately. Kurt takes the cake by a mile.

Truex: Kevin Harvick has had a big impact, especially in talks with NASCAR about the Next Gen car and just bringing things out in the open. And I feel like things are starting to get changed and looked at a lot harder because of him being outspoken.

Cindric: I’d say it’s a toss up between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. I wouldn’t say it’s positive or negative, just impact on the larger scale. They’ve been very outspoken about the car and the series and some things are productive. Some things probably aren’t aimed at being productive. So, from that standpoint, they’ve definitely been been the leaders in that category.

Keselowski: Probably either Kevin Harvick or Denny Hamlin because they’re so outspoken across the board.

Larson: Probably if I had to pick one over everybody, Harvick just on the safety side. Him and Denny together, them two. They’re moving the needle.

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Wallace: Ross Chastain. He’s obviously made a lot of headlines this year for the way he races, and obviously, Martinsville was no shortage of that.

Blaney: Honestly, I think like last two years, we’ve seen Bubba [Wallace] have a huge impact on the sport, reaching new audiences, and that’s grown the sport tremendously. I think he’s had a great influence on it. He’s grown different fan bases and grown the sport in a good way. So he’s had a massive impact on it, and I think it’s really cool what he’s done.

Chastain: I’ll say Darrell [Wallace]. He won a race. The following he has and the reach that he has, [it’s] far beyond what I have, in good and bad. What he does travels farther, and what he says carries a heavier weight than something I say. So I think in his winning moments and his not great moments, his car makes it to front pages and headlines farther than mine. He has this opportunity to carry the sport through his career and through his accomplishments on track that I hope to get to. He’s got the potential to just really elevate this sport. I’m glad to be his friend and a competitor. I want to beat him, right? But yeah, I think he’s got the most potential.

Suárez: Honestly, I will say myself because of the win that we had in Sonoma and everything that came with that. I felt like we gained a lot of traction with the Hispanic community, and that was great and I feel like that was amazing, not just for myself but for the entire sport and the history of the sport. So I think that that was pretty remarkable, and it just happened that I was driving.

Byron: I’d say Denny Hamlin because of just the 23XI being a new team and the national presence that the Jordan brand has and stuff like that. So I would say they’ve had the biggest impact on on the way the seasons gone with how vocal they are.

Blaney: Hard to argue against Ross [Chastain] after [Martinsville].

Burton: I’d say probably Kevin Harvick. Actually, I take that back — I’d say Kurt Busch is. Even though he was out for the year, he has been a really good advocate for the drivers and comes to meetings with NASCAR and the drivers and is really involved still. So a guy like that who kind of has just recently announced his retirement, I think he’s been really influencing the sport a lot. So either those two guys have been really influential though.

Chase Elliott: Ross Chastain has certainly been a storyline a lot throughout the year, both good and bad. But he’s been talked about quite a bit, so seems like a pretty good story between him and and Trackhouse and the things they’ve had going on.

Joey Logano on how he won his second NASCAR championship: ‘You can’t fake confidence’

[vertical-gallery id=1981402]

NASCAR Superlatives 2022: We polled drivers to see what they think of everyone else

For The Win polled NASCAR drivers to see what they think about their competitors on and off the track.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season ended Sunday with Joey Logano winning his second championship after taking the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway. And the end of the season means it’s time for For The Win’s annual NASCAR Superlatives.

Throughout the last several weeks, we polled 13 drivers with the same 10 questions about their competitors’ skills behind the wheel, as well as their personalities away from the track.

Obviously, there have been numerous examples this year of drivers being furious and frustrated with each other, but some of them are friends who have been racing against each other for a while. Our annual investigation reveals what some of them really think about each other.

Here’s what some of NASCAR’s top drivers had to say about each other this year. And if you’re curious about previous editions…

NASCAR Superlatives: 20212020, 2019, 2018, 2017

These answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.

1. Which driver who is not a champion will be a champion at some point?

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Daniel Suárez: You’re talking to him.

Joey Logano: Probably Ryan Blaney. I see the improvement he’s made over the last few years, and he’s got a ton of speed. So I’d say he’s getting closer and closer. He’s consistently in the Round of 8 every year for the last few, so I’d say he’s on the brink of making it to the Championship 4.

Bubba Wallace: Ryan Blaney.

Chase Elliott: Ryan Blaney.

Ryan Blaney: I don’t want to say myself because that would be too obvious of like, boosting your own ego. But obviously you want see yourself win a championship. Other than me, [William] Byron has been strong. Obviously, Denny Hamlin has kind of been on the verge of one for a long time.

Austin Cindric: It’s hard to not say Denny Hamlin. He’s come very close, and I think he’s probably the most realistic answer.

Ross Chastain: Ross Chastain.

Kyle Larson: William Byron. I feel like he’s very driven, very focused, works really hard and has a lot of talent, mentally is pretty tough. He just seems like a NASCAR champion.

Martin Truex Jr.: Christopher Bell.

Alex Bowman: William Byron.

Brad Keselowski: I’m going to say William Byron. He’s growing, he’s maturing, he’s with a great team. I think it will click, it just hasn’t yet.

William Byron: I’d first like to say myself, selfishly. There’s a lot of options there. Denny Hamlin comes to mind. If he’s not a champion really soon, I think he’ll be a champion, just the way that he is able to run consistently well. And I think he’s an intelligent race car driver and knows how to put himself in position towards the end of the year to have a chance to win in this format.

Harrison Burton: I think there’s a lot of good young guys that haven’t won one yet. But I think a good one would probably be William Byron. He’s been fast a lot, won a lot of races, so he’ll probably end up being [a champion] one day.

2. Which driver who hasn’t won the Daytona 500 will win it at some point?

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Suárez: Same question, same answer, me.

Chastain: Ross Chastain.

Wallace: Us! It’s funny, [Ryan] Blaney’s also had two or three second-place finishes, so we’re kind of tied on that scenario. But I’m gonna go with myself.

Elliott: Same guy for me, [Blaney]. He’s finished second about 10 times.

Blaney: Either myself or I think Chase Elliott. He runs pretty good at superspeedways.

Truex: [Laughs] I want to say me.

Bowman: Probably also William Byron.

Larson: Ryan Blaney, for sure. I think he’s just a really good superspeedway racer and is in contention a lot of times. All drivers, they’ll probably mostly say Ryan Blaney.

Cindric: Ryan Blaney.

Logano: Pick one, anyone could win.

Byron: I’d say Ryan Blaney because I think he’s really good at the superspeedway races. He’s always, always at the front. He’s very aggressive, knows how to make the right decisions and stuff. He’s been close already.

Burton: That’s a hard, hard race to win. I think Ryan Blaney will probably get one soon.

Keselowski: Shoot, the last three years, I’ve been in the top-3 in the last few laps and gotten wrecked or something’s happened. Just gotta keep [getting into position] and eventually it’ll happen.

3. Which driver has the best social media personality?

Suárez: Oh my god, you want to have the same answer for every question?

Blaney: [Kevin] Harvick’s been cracking me up here the last couple months, which has been fun to watch. He’ll get all sassy with everybody, and I get a good chuckle out of that. He and Hamlin have a really funny Twitter. I love waking up and seeing [Harvick] go on rants the next morning. I love reading all through it.

Bowman: Me or Noah Gragson.

Chastain: Not Ross Chastain. Pretty much anybody but [me]. I honestly don’t even have a good working knowledge of what people are posting.

Logano: Can I pick myself? I pick myself because I like cars.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CfaMwfjpZ0y/

Wallace: Depends on what you’re going for. First ones that come to mind are Denny, Kyle [Busch], myself.

Byron: I don’t think any of us are that great at it, I’ll be honest. Bubba comes to mind. He’s probably the most comfortable with social media, I would say, so his personality comes across. I would look at it as who’s the most authentic? Whose personality is really showing? And I think he’s the most authentic on there, speaks his mind.

Keselowski: I like Erik Jones. I like that he does the reading to the kids thing and all that. That’s pretty cool.

Larson: Probably Denny [Hamlin]. Over the last probably three or four or five years, he’s really stepped up, it seems, his social media stuff, and he’s pretty funny on there. He does do, I would say, a lot of it himself, but I know his social media guy, and he’s pretty witty with all that too.

Cindric: I don’t really like Twitter. I use it, but I don’t like it. I like Instagram a lot better. But I don’t know.

Burton: I don’t follow them all. So I don’t know. I would say my dad, Jeff Burton. He’s killing his Instagram game recently. For an old guy, he’s doing pretty good.

4. Which driver has the best sense of humor?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Truex: I got nothing.

Bowman: Definitely me. Dry as the desert.

Blaney: Bubba [Wallace] and Chase [Elliott]. I think you get different personalities out of people away from their job. It’s kind of hard to judge somebody from how they act at the race track or something because a lot of times, you’re you’re dead-set focused on the task at hand, and it’s hard to kind of really let loose or joke around too much. Everyone’s personality is very different away from the race track.

Wallace: Myself.

Chastain: Ryan Blaney. It’s dry, but I think I understand it though. Most people probably don’t.

Keselowski: Blaney. He’s just a fun guy to be around, and he’s chill.

Elliott: Skip.

Logano: This used to be the Clint Bowyer answer back in the day. Can I pick myself again? I can’t keep picking myself [laughs].

Cindric: Kevin Harvick has a pretty dry sense of humor, which I always enjoy. Sometimes it’s at the expense of something or someone else, but it’s Kevin Harvick.

Byron: Kyle Busch kind of has a pretty funny sense of humor. Like, when I drove for for [Kyle Busch Motorsports], I always thought he was kind of funny. He’s pretty brash, but it’s kind of funny sometimes because he’s so unfiltered.

Suárez: Probably Noah Gragson.

Burton: Todd Gilliland is the guy that probably makes me laugh the most in the garage. He’s a rookie, so I hang out with him quite a bit. And yeah, he’s funny as heck, that’s for sure.

Larson: The first name that came to my mind was Corey LaJoie. He’s really funny and quick.

NASCAR’s Noah Gragson won at Bristol, vomited and shotgunned a White Claw opened with a gladiator sword

5. Which driver is most likely to drop an f-bomb in a live TV interview?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: Typically, I’d say Kyle Busch, but he seems like he’s cleaned it up a little lately. Kevin [Harvick] is not likely anymore either. Those are two likely candidates back in the day. Bubba [Wallace] maybe?

Suárez: Probably me! I did that a few times after I won.

Cindric: Kyle Busch.

Keselowski: Yeah, probably Kyle Busch.

Chastain: Darrell Wallace.

Elliott: [Kevin] Harvick.

Byron: Oh, for sure [Kyle Busch]. I think that’s already happened. He’s for sure halfway there, if not already there.

Burton: Kyle Busch, I’d say it’s a good guess.

Truex: Kyle Busch.

Larson: Probably Noah Gragson.

Wallace: Noah Gragson.

Bowman: Noah Gragson.

Blaney: Man, I think any of us are capable of it. It’s just a matter of how upset you are. But I feel like that’s a big one to drop. I could see dropping a number of other cuss words, so you really have to mean it to drop that one. I could see Kyle Busch dropping one, but he hasn’t yet, I don’t believe, in his whole career, so maybe he won’t.

6. Which driver has had the most surprising season?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Truex: I would say Ross Chastain because they just consistently perform well, and they’re still a fairly new team.

Keselowski: Ross Chastain. He’s still in the final four, and I guess I probably didn’t see that coming.

Blaney: Chastain’s had a really good first year at Trackhouse. Not surprising, he’s doing well, but I think he’s, you know, run better than people have thought in his first year over there. Another one who I’m surprised hasn’t run better or won like they’re used to doing is [Martin] Truex.

Cindric: Daniel Suárez. He’s been in the sport for a while and, quite honestly, in very capable cars. And whether he’s grown or he’s in a great situation or he wasn’t in good situations before, I feel like it’s kind of his third attempt at being in a top team, and he’s done very well with it.

Wallace: Probably Briscoe. Obviously got that win at Phoenix [in the spring], and the Stewart-Haas [Racing] cars haven’t been that great all year. But the last 10 races, he’s gotten hot at the right time.

Byron: Definitely Ross Chastain. I assumed he would be a playoff contender, for sure, based on how he ran the 42. But I felt like it would just be a steady progression from last year and the 42 car. Those guys, as soon as the season started, have been contenders and been difficult and hard to beat basically a lot of tracks.

Suárez: My team as a whole — not just myself but my teammate as well. Trackhouse as a whole, more [successful] than most people expected. We are having some good success and that has been very, very good.

Bowman: Ross Chastain. I just didn’t see that much success coming this year. They’ve been really strong, and I know Ross is really good. I just didn’t expect them to do what they’ve done.

Logano: This whole year’s been a surprise. Kurt Busch is one who comes to my mind, not for good reasons. Obviously, the win early in the year was great, but his whole year is just a surprise probably to all of us.

Burton: Chase Briscoe is having a really good year. Not that it’s surprising, I guess, because he’s won a lot of races in Xfinity, but he’s done a really good job from last year to this year, making it as far as he has in the playoffs and getting good finishes when he hasn’t run well. I feel like there are days where he’ll run towards the back and then find a way to finish up front, which is really hard to do in this series.

Larson: Surprisingly good — great! — Ross Chastain. I knew he was going to be good. I wasn’t surprised to see them strong early in the year, but I thought that that team might tail off as the season got on. But they haven’t. Surprisingly not good — not that he hasn’t been great because he’s been in contention a lot — but Martin Truex. I’m just surprised that they haven’t won.

Chastain: Ross Chastain. I’ve never won races. I’d only finished in the top-5 three times in my career before this year, and now we’ve done it [15] times. Brand-new team, new ownership and two drivers that had never competed at the front consistently, and we’ve done that this year. I’m a [watermelon] farmer, so it’s surprising that I can drive a race car.

7. You’re leading the race and there are two laps left; which driver would you want behind you?

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Blaney: None of them. I don’t think you want any of them within a car length or two of you.

Logano: All of them.

Elliott: No one. I hope they’re far enough away or nobody’s close to you.

Wallace: I’ll go with Blaney.

Bowman: I don’t care.

Truex: Probably Kyle Busch, just because I know he’d race with respect. We have a good relationship, and we always race well together. Very, very hard racing, but clean and fair.

Byron: A teammate would be better than than others probably. So I’d say maybe Chase [Elliott] or Alex [Bowman] or Kyle [Larson]. Any of those three would be a good one to have.

Larson: I guess it depends on the race track, but I don’t I don’t really care. I guess any of them.

Suárez: For a comfortable situation, I’d say my teammate, Ross [Chastain].

Keselowski: Probably Chris Buescher. He’s a good teammate.

Burton: Another rookie, probably Todd Gilliland or Austin Cindric, I’d say, because I feel like we’re all in the same boat. So we’ll be in good shape there.

Chastain: Line ’em up however they want, doesn’t matter.

8. You’re leading the race and there are two laps left; which driver do you absolutely not want behind you?

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: I really don’t care. You’ve got to beat them all, so it doesn’t matter. Whoever, I don’t think it makes a difference, honestly. Everybody’s gonna be willing to do something to win a race, and what they’re willing to do is sometimes pretty fluid. I think you treat them all the same because you just don’t know.

Truex: I guess best chance of getting run into would be Joey Logano.

Elliott: I’m good with any of them, no issues.

Wallace: Let’s go with Logano.

Suárez: A driver that is in a must-win situation, that has a lot of pressure. Any of the drivers that are in the playoffs that are below the cutline, those guys, they have to do whatever they have to do. If I was in their position, I would do the same thing. Those guys, it’s not good to have them behind me because they will have to do dumb moves to do whatever they have to do to get the job done.

Keselowski: Probably Chase Briscoe. the last few times he’s been running second with like two or three laps to go, he’s wrecked the leader — in case you were wondering the rationale.

Bowman: Ross [Chastain] is just gonna ride the wall, so maybe not Ross.

Byron: Man, I don’t want any of them behind me. But I don’t think really any of them intimidate me, per se. I think some are more strategic than others. It just depends on the situation. I can’t pick one there.

Blaney: It doesn’t really matter. To me, you kind of understand and you race around guys enough to where you know who will be more aggressive than others. But this year, everyone’s been really aggressive, so you never know.

Burton: I think I don’t want Ross Chastain behind me because I feel like he’s gonna probably put me in a spot where I’m gonna either have to crash us both, or crash him to try and win. So it’s gonna be crazy at the end if he’s right behind you.

Larson: Seems like Ross Chastain — and I’m not saying this on the on the part that he would crash you for the win — I just feel like he’s really good right now, and he’s really fast. He understands traffic really well. I feel like he does the best job of passing.

Cindric: Ross Chastain. Probably a popular answer.

Chastain: I don’t discriminate. Pick anybody you want, put them right behind me. That’s fine by me.

NASCAR drivers’ and spotters’ real-time reactions to Ross Chastain’s wild Martinsville move are pure gold

9. Which driver is most likely to believe in wild conspiracy theories?

(Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

Blaney: Oh, gosh, Chase [Elliott]. This was when we were living in the same apartment complex together in North Carolina years ago, like 2015. He’d go down rabbit holes of conspiracy theories all the time. And I’d be over at his apartment sitting there, and he’d just go into a deep dive. I don’t know if he’s still that way or not. But back in 2015, ’16, Chase was a big conspiracy theorist on the aliens, government schemes, all this kind of stuff. And I wasn’t really interested in them. But yeah, he was pretty big into it a handful of years ago.

Wallace: Brad Keselowski.

Logano: Brad [Keselowski] will read the conspiracy theories, for sure, and get fairly deep into stuff before he realizes what the heck’s going on.

Byron: Oh man, I’d say Brad Keselowski. He comes across that way on social media, I think. He definitely reads into things for sure. So I would say him. I’ve seen him do some things with his methods, [like] when he goes out to qualify, he’ll do something different than everybody else.

Bowman: Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski: Me. I’m assuming everybody else has answered me.

Larson: Kyle Busch, for sure. Kyle or Kurt — either of the Buschs.

Burton: I don’t really know why, but the first guy that came to my mind is Denny Hamlin.

Elliott: Tyler Reddick. He just strikes me as a conspiracy theorist maybe, I don’t know.

Cindric: Oh, Michael McDowell. I’ve got a hunch, I’ll leave it at that.

Chastain: Michael McDowell. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. I know him well, and so I can say this: He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a little different, little out there in some ways. I love him. I love everything about him and what he stands for and being his friend. But you give him a few crumbs of maybe truth, and he’s gonna run with it.

10. Which driver is having the largest impact on the sport this season?

(Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Logano: Kurt Busch. Kurt, right now, has a very loud voice, and he has more time than anybody to focus on the health of our sport and health of our drivers and health and the safety of our cars. And he has taken the ball and run with it. And we all should be appreciative for what Kurt’s been doing for us lately. Kurt takes the cake by a mile.

Truex: Kevin Harvick has had a big impact, especially in talks with NASCAR about the Next Gen car and just bringing things out in the open. And I feel like things are starting to get changed and looked at a lot harder because of him being outspoken.

Cindric: I’d say it’s a toss up between Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. I wouldn’t say it’s positive or negative, just impact on the larger scale. They’ve been very outspoken about the car and the series and some things are productive. Some things probably aren’t aimed at being productive. So, from that standpoint, they’ve definitely been been the leaders in that category.

Keselowski: Probably either Kevin Harvick or Denny Hamlin because they’re so outspoken across the board.

Larson: Probably if I had to pick one over everybody, Harvick just on the safety side. Him and Denny together, them two. They’re moving the needle.

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Wallace: Ross Chastain. He’s obviously made a lot of headlines this year for the way he races, and obviously, Martinsville was no shortage of that.

Blaney: Honestly, I think like last two years, we’ve seen Bubba [Wallace] have a huge impact on the sport, reaching new audiences, and that’s grown the sport tremendously. I think he’s had a great influence on it. He’s grown different fan bases and grown the sport in a good way. So he’s had a massive impact on it, and I think it’s really cool what he’s done.

Chastain: I’ll say Darrell [Wallace]. He won a race. The following he has and the reach that he has, [it’s] far beyond what I have, in good and bad. What he does travels farther, and what he says carries a heavier weight than something I say. So I think in his winning moments and his not great moments, his car makes it to front pages and headlines farther than mine. He has this opportunity to carry the sport through his career and through his accomplishments on track that I hope to get to. He’s got the potential to just really elevate this sport. I’m glad to be his friend and a competitor. I want to beat him, right? But yeah, I think he’s got the most potential.

Suárez: Honestly, I will say myself because of the win that we had in Sonoma and everything that came with that. I felt like we gained a lot of traction with the Hispanic community, and that was great and I feel like that was amazing, not just for myself but for the entire sport and the history of the sport. So I think that that was pretty remarkable, and it just happened that I was driving.

Byron: I’d say Denny Hamlin because of just the 23XI being a new team and the national presence that the Jordan brand has and stuff like that. So I would say they’ve had the biggest impact on on the way the seasons gone with how vocal they are.

Blaney: Hard to argue against Ross [Chastain] after [Martinsville].

Burton: I’d say probably Kevin Harvick. Actually, I take that back — I’d say Kurt Busch is. Even though he was out for the year, he has been a really good advocate for the drivers and comes to meetings with NASCAR and the drivers and is really involved still. So a guy like that who kind of has just recently announced his retirement, I think he’s been really influencing the sport a lot. So either those two guys have been really influential though.

Chase Elliott: Ross Chastain has certainly been a storyline a lot throughout the year, both good and bad. But he’s been talked about quite a bit, so seems like a pretty good story between him and and Trackhouse and the things they’ve had going on.

Joey Logano on how he won his second NASCAR championship: ‘You can’t fake confidence’

[vertical-gallery id=1981402]

12 awesome photos of Joey Logano celebrating his NASCAR championship win

Smiles, tears and all the hugs for 2022 NASCAR champ Joey Logano.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano made a point to soak in every moment following his second NASCAR Cup Series championship win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.

It was a conscious effort to relish the first few minutes after he crossed the finish line first, beating out Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott in the title hunt. He knew from his first championship in 2018 that those initial moments are exceptional and almost impossible to replicate.

“If I’m being honest, it definitely feels a little different,” Logano said when asked Sunday night how his second championship compares with the first. “But it still feels really special. What I remember of the first championship was the moment when you get out of the car and you see everybody for the first time. That’s the most special moment of the whole thing. …

“That first 10 minutes is the best. There’s just nothing like it. It’s so hard to achieve it, and you just hope to have that feeling again.”

Here’s a look at the 12 best photos of Logano celebrating.

Joey Logano on how he won his second NASCAR championship: ‘You can’t fake confidence’

Joey Logano and his 4-year-old son celebrated his NASCAR championship with a special race-car ride

“I always wanted to do that just because, I don’t know, it’s cool.”

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Not long after Joey Logano crossed the finish line to win the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship, his 4-year-old son, Hudson, was by his side, ready to celebrate and helping the No. 22 Team Penske Ford driver collect his checkered flag.

But Logano had a special plan for Hudson in the celebratory mayhem — a plan he’d been thinking about since Kevin Harvick won at Michigan International Speedway back in 2019.

“Ever since Kevin took Keelan in Michigan for a ride in the car, I said, ‘I want to do that,” Logano said after winning his second Cup championship. “Like, I always wanted to do that just because, I don’t know, it’s cool.”

So after the father-son duo collected the checkered flag, Hudson climbed into the seatless passenger side of the No. 22 car for some “gentle donuts together” before a quick ride around the one-mile track. Kyle Busch did the same thing with his son after his 2019 championship win.

[lawrence-related id=1981300]

Hudson was an infant when Logano won his first championship in 2018, so this one is extra special for the pair.

Logano continued during his post-race press conference:

“I always dreamed of winning with him here because I always wanted to take him for a ride. We’d go for rides in hot rods all the time together, and it’s definitely not the first donuts we’ve done together. But the first time in a race car, well — on the race track. It’s the first time on a race track that we got to do donuts together.

“That’s just cool, to see him running up there, grabbing the checkered flag, it’s hard to explain. If you have kids, you understand the love that you have for them — it’s truly unconditional love. To see him smiling and celebrate the moment together, it’s truly the most awesome feeling.

“And the fact that we can talk about it, right? The first time I won it, he was like nine-months-old. He didn’t know which way was up, could barely hold his head up. Now, to see him running up there and grabbing the flag and going for a ride with me, couldn’t have picked a better race to do that for the first time.

Logano also said he promised Hudson he’d win, and “I couldn’t be a liar to my son.”

His other two kids — 2-year-old Jameson and 9-month-old Emilia — didn’t make the trip out to Arizona. He said he and his wife, Brittany, tried to get Jameson on West Coast time since they knew two weeks before the title race that the No. 22 team would be in contention.

“Turns out Jameson wakes up at 5:00 a.m. no matter what time you put him to sleep,” Logano said. “You can put him to bed at 10 or 6:30; he wakes up at 5 a.m. He’s a machine. We said, ‘You know what? You’re staying, bud. Love you.'”

But he did give them both a shoutout after his victory.

“Daddy will be home soon, but we’re going to party a little bit first.”

[mm-video type=video id=01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh playlist_id=none player_id=01f5k5x3v4hcz7e10g image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh-0cc7bb9e593b055a3cac3811fc6daf51.jpg]

[vertical-gallery id=957605]

Joey Logano on how he won his second NASCAR championship: ‘You can’t fake confidence’

Joey Logano absolutely dominated at Phoenix Raceway to win his second NASCAR championship.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano never doubted he’d be the NASCAR driver hoisting the Cup Series trophy at the end of the season.

Of course, plenty of drivers enter a new season or the beginning of the playoffs with the same mentality. But Logano felt his No. 22 Team Penske Ford team was immensely prepared for this moment — including a 7 a.m. team meeting in crew chief Paul Wolfe’s bus Sunday — and he had two extra weeks to get ready after being the first Championship 4 driver to qualify for the title race at Phoenix Raceway.

He won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in mid-October, and his team quickly began eyeing the championship race, watching film, reviewing pit stops, dissecting the details and capitalizing on their advantage.

So by the time Phoenix rolled around, noticeable confidence and excitement were bursting from the 32-year-old driver through his almost-always jovial personality.

“When you saw how confident I was in my team [it was] because we were truly ready,” Logano said while wearing his gigantic championship ring.

“And you can’t fake confidence. I mean, you can maybe show it a little bit, but truly deep down inside, you have to believe that if you’re going to be ready for this battle ahead of you. And I never felt more ready.”

So when he hit the one-mile desert track, and he absolutely dominated.

He first won the pole before ultimately leading a race-high 187 laps of the 312 laps total, taking the checkered flag and winning his second career NASCAR Cup championship, along with his 2018 crown. It was also his third win at Phoenix in 28 starts.

But actually, Logano said he feels maybe a little short-changed when it comes to his championship count.

(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

“The greed in me feels like I should have four or five at the moment,” he said, chuckling at his own joke.

After being out front for the first 87 laps, Logano then traded the lead with a handful of challengers, but never with the other three championship contenders: Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain or Christopher Bell. He crushed his title competition, and for most of the race, it felt like it was his trophy to lose.

And by the time he crossed the finish line first, he was 0.301 seconds ahead of race runner-up Ryan Blaney, 1.268 ahead of Chastain in third and at least three seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Bell finished 10th, and Elliott was 28th after a run-in with Chastain that damaged his car.

“The 22 [team] was lights out all weekend, winning the pole and being super strong in practice,” Bell said. “We were just kind of playing catch-up — the rest of us were playing catch-up to him. The best car won the championship for sure.”

The oldest and most veteran of the title contenders — though Elliott was the 2020 champion — Logano said the experience delivered him an advantage beyond the obvious. Of course, he appreciates what it takes to win it all.

But he noted his fifth appearance in the Championship 4 helped him identify his competitors’ weaknesses, and when they may have been convincing themselves Sunday was just another race, Logano cranked up the pressure. He relishes it.

“I love making situations bigger than what they are — even bigger — because that pressure, to me, makes me better,” he said. “Is it uncomforting? Yeah.”

“Let me tell you, I felt like I had a 10,000-pound gorilla on my shoulder,” he continued. “It’s tough. Like, I felt the pressure, don’t get me wrong. But you gotta learn to love it because it’s right around the corner from having a moment like this.”

And it carried him to victory, making Team Penske the first organization to win a NASCAR and IndyCar Series championship in the same year.

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

“We don’t win every day, do we?” said team owner Roger Penske, who’s No. 2 Ford squad also won the season-opening Daytona 500. “But it teaches us how to win and how to stay in the game, and I think that’s what it’s done. … So I can’t say one is better than the other. I’m just glad to be here.”

Logano now joins Kyle Busch as the only active two-time champion, but that will change next season when seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson makes his limited return to the NASCAR circuit as a part-time driver.

[mm-video type=video id=01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh playlist_id=none player_id=01evcfkb10bw5a3nky image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh-0cc7bb9e593b055a3cac3811fc6daf51.jpg]

[listicle id=1978433]

[vertical-gallery id=957605]

Every NASCAR Cup Series playoff champion through the years

From Kurt Busch to Kyle Busch, here’s every NASCAR Cup Series champion in the playoff era.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season concluded Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, and Joey Logano was the latest driver to win the championship.

Before 2004, the NASCAR Cup Series championship was awarded to the driver who accrued the most points over the course of the entire season. In 2004, NASCAR launched what was then called the “Chase for the Cup,” a 10-race playoff series to cap the season that has been tweaked repeatedly over the years.

The “Championship 4” winner-take-all final race was first introduced in 2014, and was run at Homestead-Miami Speedway every year until 2020, when the schedule was rearranged and it moved to Phoenix Raceway.

Since 2014, the Cup Series champion has won the season finale an impressive eight out of eight times — which means the four championship drivers likely have to take the checkered flag at Phoenix if they hope to win a title.

Here’s a look back at every NASCAR Cup Series champion since the series switched to a playoff system in 2004.

Chase Elliott dodged questions and chance for payback after Ross Chastain incident in NASCAR title race

“Looking forward to the off-season.”

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Chase Elliott’s 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship hopes pretty much evaporated long before the race ended, thanks to contact with fellow title contender Ross Chastain.

And instead of getting on-track revenge or fueling a feud in post-race interviews, Elliott seemingly opted for the high road — the literal opposite of For The Win’s NASCAR Feud of the Week.

Racing for what would have been his second career title, Elliott was running in the top-10 for much of the first two stages of the season finale at Phoenix Raceway. But his day went sideways, quite literally, with a little more than 100 laps left at the one-mile desert track.

On a Lap 200 restart, Elliott, in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was running in the inside lane with Chastain in the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet behind him. They both dove down the track to capitalize on the dogleg shortcut after the start-finish line, but the nose of the No. 1 car made contact with the back of the No. 9, sending Elliott spinning and slamming into the inside wall, damaging his car.

By the time Elliott returned to the track, he was one lap down and never recovered — falling to three laps down at one point. Just like that, his championship hopes vanished, finishing 28th and two laps down while Joey Logano took the checkered flag and claimed his second career championship.

When asked about the incident multiple times following the race, Elliott — who still finished with a series-high five wins in 2022 — repeatedly dodged the questions.

“Just want to say congratulations to Joey and his team. They did a really good job this entire weekend, and he’s a very deserving champion,” Elliott told NBC Sports when asked about the incident with Chastain.

Later when he was asked about what happened from his perspective during his post-race press conference, he said he wasn’t sure and redirected: “Looking forward to the off-season.”

“Just disappointed, obviously, ended our day and ended our chance at a win or a championship,” a salty Elliott added when pressed on the contact with Chastain.

This was hardly the first time this season Chastain has been aggressive and made contact with a competitor and not even the first time he’s had an incident with Elliott. But while others eyed payback for the No. 1 driver throughout the season, Elliott appeared to have the opportunity to wreck Chastain in the final stage of Sunday’s race but didn’t.

From Chastain’s perspective, he said it was “absolutely” a typical racing incident after he “got a better start.”

“I got to his left-rear, and he tried to cover it late, and I was already there,” Chastain said. “I feel like it was just hard racing, and I had position. We could have raced down in the corner side-by-side if he had just kept going the way we were going.

“I had a really good run. It looked like William [Byron] didn’t get going quite as well as he wanted to. I got to the left of [Elliott] and saw an erratic move that he made to turn left to cover it, but I was already there. …

“It’s not what I want to do, but I feel like I had position on him, and he tried to cover it late.”

When Elliott was questioned about why he didn’t deal some payback to Chastain, he again dodged the question: “Just proud of my team and appreciate the effort that they put in and the fight that we had for these last nine weeks.”

[mm-video type=video id=01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh playlist_id=none player_id=01evcfkb10bw5a3nky image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh-0cc7bb9e593b055a3cac3811fc6daf51.jpg]

[listicle id=1979625]

[vertical-gallery id=957605]

What NASCAR’s Championship 4 drivers said they would change about the playoffs

“I would move the final race from track to track, year to year,” Joey Logano said.

PHOENIX — After 35 races, the NASCAR Cup Series season builds toward No. 36, the season finale at Phoenix Raceway where, after the 10-race playoffs, the latest champion is crowned.

But a couple of the 2022 Championship 4 drivers would like to see championship weekend bounce to different tracks around the country, comparable to the Super Bowl, instead of remaining at one track for several years at a time.

“I think of the Super Bowl, the impact it has when it comes to a new city, how it kind of makes maybe the stadium better but also that city,” said Joey Logano, NASCAR’s 2018 champion who’s in the running for his second title Sunday, starting from the pole. “I think they should bid it out. The highest bidder — we should go to that track.”

[lawrence-related id=1980098]

Under the current playoff format, which was implemented in 2014, the postseason begins with 16 drivers, and the schedule is divided into four rounds. The first three rounds consist of three races, and at the end of each round, four drivers are eliminated from contention.

Following the first nine playoff races is a winner-take-all finale, which has been at Phoenix since 2020 when it replaced Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hosted championship weekend for nearly two decades.

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Ahead of the third season with Phoenix hosting the finale, For The Win asked the Championship 4 drivers what one thing they’d change about the playoff format.

“It’s pretty good, isn’t it? There’s always drama since we’ve been doing it,” Logano, whose stance on this topic is not new but remains strong.

“The only thing I would change is I would move the final race from track to track, year to year,” the No. 22 Team Penske Ford driver continued. “I know that’s probably not possible with a lot of deals in place and all. … I’m sure there’s a lot more business behind that that I have no idea how it works. I wouldn’t be against switching it up and trying different tracks all the time, giving fans maybe local that can’t come to a race a chance to see it.”

[lawrence-related id=1980691]

Chase Elliott, the 2020 champion also racing for his second one, agreed with Logano. He praised Homestead and Phoenix for being great stops and producing thrilling competition. And even though there are a variety of logistical concerns, he said it’s crucial that the championship race rotate.

“I certainly understand that the time of year puts you in a bit of a bind with weather in certain areas,” the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver noted. “You don’t want to go somewhere super cold, but I think it’s important to keep moving the race around and give other tracks an opportunity.

“But there’s a lot of logistics in there, who owns the track, so on and so forth. So this has been a great stop for us though. I’ve enjoyed my time coming out here, but I think we should keep it moving.”

Maybe not every year like the Super Bowl, Elliott added, suggesting tracks get the title race for “a handful” of years and then switching it up between one-mile and 1.5-mile tracks, along with shorter ones too.

“I think Bristol [Motor Speedway] is a great choice,” he said.

(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Since the 2020 season, the playoff elimination races have been at Bristol, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval and Martinsville Speedway and will continue to be through at least the 2023 season. Ending with the Roval — a half-oval, half-road course circuit — the Round of 12 tracks also include Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to create arguably the most chaotic and unpredictable playoff round.

“They got it nailed pretty good,” said Ross Chastain of the playoff format and schedule. The No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet driver brilliantly raced his way into the Championship 4 with a wild video game move at Martinsville last weekend.

[lawrence-related id=1980569]

“They got their races where they are in order through trial and error over the years and moving them around. They create big moments, from the Roval to Talladega.”

He said he’d maybe suggest adding a true road course to the playoffs, “but I don’t know what track I would pull out.”

As for Christopher Bell — the fourth championship contender this season behind the wheel of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — he’d prefer to scrap the whole playoff format and revert back to a season-long championship chase, which was abandoned after the 2003 season.

But that might be the most unrealistic suggestion of them all.

“I’ve always been a traditional racer growing up,” Bell said. “For me, I would rather have a whole-season champion and go out of cumulative points.”

[mm-video type=video id=01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh playlist_id=none player_id=01evcfkb10bw5a3nky image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh-0cc7bb9e593b055a3cac3811fc6daf51.jpg]

[listicle id=1978433]

[vertical-gallery id=957605]

Kyle Larson still doesn’t like Ross Chastain’s Martinsville video game move: ‘It’s not fair racing’

Kyle Larson said Ross Chastain’s Martinsville move “took guts” but still doesn’t think it’s fair.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series championship race Sunday, one storyline has absolutely dominated the racing world, and rightfully so.

Ross Chastain pulled off the unthinkable last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway with a video game move on the last lap. With a spot in the title race on the line, he floored it, rode the wall, passed his competitors at a ridiculous rate and snuck into the Championship 4. It was wild, and the physics of it actually worked.

But not everyone in the NASCAR garage is a fan.

Afterward at Martinsville, 2021 Cup champion Kyle Larson called it “a bad look” for the sport and said he’s embarrassed he tried and failed to do something similar last season at Darlington Raceway.

Friday at Phoenix, Larson said his opinion on the move — now dubbed the “Hail Melon”as a nod to Chastain’s watermelon farming roots — hasn’t changed.

“I’d love to say after listening to all the fans that my opinion has changed because they’re very educated,” Larson said. “But no, it hasn’t.”

“It doesn’t take any talent to floor it against the wall and go two seconds quicker than the field,” the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver added. “I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not fair at all.”

He acknowledged that it was “crazy,” “awesome” and “took guts.” But he said he’s concerned about safety and consistency, as well as the integrity of the sport.

“When a car scares the wall with five [laps] to go and doesn’t even touch the wall, they throw a caution because they want to set up a good finish,” Larson said. “At the end of the race, it should be no different, especially with something obvious like that. …

“And it’s nothing personal against Ross. It could be anyone in the field to pull that move, and I would have felt the same way about it. It’s not fair racing.”

Larson again pointed to his embarrassment after he tried a similar move in an attempt to get around Denny Hamlin for the lead.

“I’ve done it before, so I’m being hypocritical,” Larson continued. “But I’m glad I did not win because I would not have been able to sleep at night and be proud of it, just like I don’t think I’d be proud to be in the final four with a move like that.”

[mm-video type=video id=01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh playlist_id=none player_id=01evcfkb10bw5a3nky image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh/01ggr1ng1sj0rcb4ywxh-0cc7bb9e593b055a3cac3811fc6daf51.jpg]

[listicle id=1979625]

[vertical-gallery id=957605]