Who won the NASCAR championship in 2023? Full results, highlights from the Cup Series title race at Phoenix

Ryan Blaney needed a miracle to hoist the Cup Series crown. The Team Penske hotshot seemed a world away from a title just a few months ago; such is the case when your winless run stretches to 59 races.

But in the Valley of the Sun, sorcery takes place. And under the gleam of the spotlight, Blaney proved himself to be more machine than man, bursting beyond his opposition to pick up his first-ever Cup Series Championship.

It wasn’t easy for Blaney, whose No. 12 chariot toiled through qualifying. He started the day in 15th place, the lowest position among championship contenders.

Given the quality of his adversaries — Kyle Larson is one of NASCAR’s greatest-ever drivers, William Byron was perhaps the best racer over the course of the year and Christopher Bell just came off a third-place finish in last year’s competition — the odds were against him.

But Blaney didn’t fret. He didn’t fold, either. In fact, he catapulted his way atop the standings over the course of the final two stages, making a charge on Byron before outlasting Larson, who usurped his position after a late caution.

Blaney has long been considered one of the most talented drivers of NASCAR’s “Next Generation.” That he was sharing the track with those who had achieved so much at such young ages — the Championship 4 quartet of Blaney, Byron, Larson and Christopher Bell clocked in at the youngest average age for any Final Four collective — was almost poetic.

But it wouldn’t be a storybook ensinf without the finish. And although Blaney was unable to slip by Ross Chastain, who picked up his second win of the year with little fanfare, he did himself one better, finishing off a legendary postseason run that saw him win two of his final six races and finish second on two other occasions to vanquish his fellow combatants.

And now, his place in history is secure. Not because of his famous last name or his affiliation with Roger Penske. But because of his hardware.

The Valley of the Sun takes no prisoners. Particularly when the Cup Series rolls through its sun-bleached course.

MORE: Watch the Cup Series Championship live with Fubo (free trial)

The Sporting News tracked live updates from this year’s Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Motor Speedway. Follow below for highlights, results and analysis as the Cup Series season came to a close under the beaming Phoenix sun.

NASCAR at Phoenix results

(All results are unofficial)

Place Driver Car No. Team
1 Ross Chastain 1 Trackhouse Racing
2 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
3 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
4 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing
6 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
7 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
8 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
9 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
10 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing

NASCAR championship live updates, results, highlights from 2023 race

(All times Eastern)

6:31 p.m.: Burnouts galore as Chastain and Blaney paint the track in smoke!

6:29 p.m.: Chastain wins the race! Blaney wins the championship! Team Penske is back-to-back winners of the Cup Series title! And Blaney is in tears!

6:28 p.m.: Blaney up 1.5 seconds up on Larson. Just one lap to go. It looks like he’s going to do it!

6:26 p.m.: Six laps to go. Blaney’s advantage over Larson now sits at more than a second. This has been a legendary showcase by the No. 12 car. And he’s on the brink of NASCAR immortality.

6:23 p.m.: 11 laps remain and Blaney’s lead over Larson is up to eight-tenths of a second. You’d have to imagine the No. 5 car has one more run in it to try to close the gap. It’s just a matter of when.

6:20 p.m.: Chastain has built a two-second cushion between him and Blaney in second. Things are looking quite peachy for him at the front of the pack. However, the real contest that folks are watching with bated breath is between Blaney and Larson. The title is on the line. And with 16 laps to go, it’s Blaney with a three-tenths of a second edge over the No. 5.

6:19 p.m.: Blaney clears Larson! He’s got the advantage with 20 laps left! What a race this is turning out to be! What a display by Blaney!

6:17 p.m.: Great defensive driving by Larson. Blaney is doing everything in his power to usurp his competitor. But it’s just not happening right now.

6:14 p.m.: We’re back to green and it’s an absolute doozy! Larson has a slight edge over Byron and Blaney. Blaney just cut Larson’s lead ever so slightly. They’re right behind each other in second and third. And Blaney just keeps going! He’s trying to use every trick in the trade to get beyond Larson, even rolling into the bottom of the apron to a spot. With 26 laps to go, it’s Larson ahead, though.

6:12 p.m.: Larson is out in front of Byron and Blaney. The No. 12 car has been dominant for much of the last 100 tracks. But he’ll need to steady his hand to try to outlast his Hendrick Motorsports foes.

6:08 p.m.: Byron’s had the best pit crew throughout the year. But he’s unable to gain any position on Blaney in the stalls. Larson, on the other hand? Well, he edged beyond the majority of his competition to pick up a spot on the No. 12. This is enthralling stuff.

6:06 p.m.: CAUTION! Busch goes spinning near the start-finish line. Blaney will have to ward off Larson and Byron on the restart. Just 37 laps to go! The pressure is on!

6:04 p.m.: Blaney overtakes Truex for second! 42 laps left from Phoenix! All Blaney has to do is retain his position over Larson and Byron and he’ll pick up an improbable Cup Series title! Fair play to the No. 12 driver, though; he’s going for the victory, too.

5:59 p.m.: Blaney takes the lead! He got into the back of Chastain, seemingly growing frustrated after the No. 1 failed to give up his spot in first! And now Blaney’s back to third! Truex slipped in front of Blaney. Now, it’s Blaney in third, Larson in fourth and Byron in fifth! Aggressive driving by Blaney, who looked like he was hell-bent to take top spot. That might have done some serious damage to his tires, however. Just 47 laps to go.

5:49 p.m.: Hendrick boys Larson and Byron are headed to pit road. That will bring Blaney into the pits as well. Chastain also headed to pit road. Looks like the No. 12 won’t displace Chastain atop the totem pole. But he’ll maintain his spot in front of Larson and Byron. 69 laps to go.

5:44 p.m.: Blaney is still pushing hard to try to race beyond Chastain. But his team is reminding him that he doesn’t actually need to win the race to capture that all-important championship. 81 laps to go. Byron and Larson are more than three seconds behind Blaney in second. They might have to take a risk and pit early in the hopes of making up some time.

5:35 p.m.: Blaney slips into second place! He’s surges past Byron on Lap 212! He would be the Cup Series champion if things stay the same by the end of today’s race! Looks like the No. 12 team found an alteration that has it flying.

5:26 p.m.: Back to green for the final stage of the Cup Series slate. Chastain darts out to the front, trailed by Byron in second and Truex Jr. in third. Blaney and Larson are in fourth and fifth position, respectively. Buescher drops all the way to ninth.

5:19 p.m.: The end of Stage 2 sees Buescher take the crown! Byron is still on the offensive, even usurping Martin Truex Jr. for P4 — and giving him an extra bit of breathing room over Blaney and Larson, who sit in sixth and seventh, respectively.

5:11 p.m.: Chris Buescher takes the lead! He took advantage of some precarious positioning by Chastain, who found it difficult to bypass lapped cars over the past few laps or so.

As for title contenders, Byron remains out in front. Blaney’s trying to find a new path to the top. But he’s been stuffed thus far.

5:06 p.m.: Byron’s advantage grows. Looks like he might’ve just found his bearings amid Blaney’s crowding.

At the top of the field sits Chastain, who has controlled the tempo since rocketing to the front on the last race restart.

5:04 p.m.: Blaney is in the mix! He’s cut Byron’s edge to a little under three-tenths of a second. Can he overcome Byron’s lead before the end of the second stage?

5:00 p.m.: Blaney takes sixth from Larson’s grasp. He’s still got quite the charge on his hands to displace Byron, who sits more than a second in front of him in fifth. 33 laps to go in Stage 2.

4:52 p.m.: Chastain still holding strong atop the field. Byron, Larson and Blaney sit in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. The No. 24 car is showing signs of fatigue on the long run. Still plenty of race to go, though; 48 laps remaining in the second stage.

4:43 p.m.: Poor pit stop from Blaney brings him back from P3 to P7. Byron returns to the front (among championship contenders). Meanwhile, Chastain takes over as the race’s pacesetter atop the totem pole. A non-championship driver hasn’t won the title race since 2014. Could it happen today?

4:36 p.m.: CAUTION! Bell’s championship ride is over! He rams into the wall after seeing his router explode when he tried to get on his brakes. Unfortunate end to a great season for the Joe Gibbs Racing star.

4:33 p.m.: It looks like it’s only a matter of time before Blaney steals the march on Byron for P3. He makes his move on the inside, then charges his way to the top of the racetrack. He sits atop the ladder now! What a display thus far from the No. 12 car, which started the day furthest back among championship drivers in 15th!

4:31 p.m.: Chastain rolls into P2, surpassing Byron. Byron, Blaney and Bell are in third, fourth and fifth, respectively. We’ve still got a little more than 200 laps remaining. But things are getting hectic.

4:29 p.m.: Blaney is flying. Just passed Larson and Bell with relative ease. Now, he’s up to P4, just two spots behind Byron. He’s back in this one!

4:26 p.m.: Harvick is on the cusp of passing Byron on Lap 92. Looks like the No. 4 is about to supplant Happy, who is Phoenix’s greatest-ever racer. He knows how to handle things at The Desert Oddball. After all, he has nabbed the checkered flag on nine separate occasions beforehand.

As for Byron, it looks like he’s communicating with his team to get a feel for how to maneuver his whip in such a way to get back in front.

4:15 p.m.: We’re back to green at Phoenix. And it’s Byron, Harvick, Chastain and Larson all pushing hard in the top four. Blaney and Bell are climbing up the ladder as well; they are just a couple tenths of a second behind Larson in fourth.

4:10 p.m.: Blaney the fastest among championship drivers out of pit road. But only slightly; Larson was but a tenth of a second behind the Team Penske star.

4:05 p.m.: Harvick and Chastain are pushing hard to get themselves in the conversation for the race at the end of Stage 1. They’re both within a half a second of Byron. Looks like the No. 24 might just hold off to capture the opening stage. But it was close as could be.

3:57 p.m.: Bell and Blaney are up four spots each. Blaney seems to believe that he’s not running as well as he should be. But the stats aren’t backing that up; he just clocked in with the second-fastest lap among all drivers. His tires certainly are feeling the burn as we approach the end Lap 50. But he’s faring pretty well, all things considered. Especially as Larson falls a bit on the track — he sits in fifth.

3:50 p.m.: Steamy conditions here at Phoenix. Looks like it’s having an impact on driver’s tires through 31 laps.

3:42 p.m.: Through the opening 13 laps, it’s Byron in control of the track. He leads Harvick by a little over a second. Blaney is up one spot to P14, while Bell remains in P13. Larson still holding firm with Byron in P3.

3:35 p.m.: And we’re off from Phoenix! The Cup Series Championship awaits! William Byron leading the line through the opening paces.

3:00 p.m.: The Championship 4 drivers just were introduced. We’re about 30 minutes from the start of today’s race.

2:35 p.m.: Precious moment alert: all drivers posing for a picture with Happy. Look at how delighted everyone (except Ryan Newman) appears to be.

2:30 p.m.: This is the youngest collection of championship contenders in Cup Series history. NASCAR’s future is bright as can be.

2:00 p.m.: Everyone loves Chase Elliott. No surprises there.

1:25 p.m.: Stewart-Haas Racing will have craters to fill in their No. 4 and No. 10 cars next year. Harvick and Aric Almirola are stepping away from the track, giving the opportunity to the next collection of racers to sport the iconic strips. 

1:10 p.m.: There’s obviously some major implications to today’s race in Phoenix. But one thing that must be noted. This is the No. 826 (and final) start in the Cup Series for Kevin Harvick. What a career for Happy.

What channel is NASCAR on today?

  • TV channel: NBC (U.S.) | TSN1/5 (Canada)
  • Live stream: Peacock, Fubo
  • Radio: MRN

Sunday’s race will be broadcast on NBC in the United States. Canadian viewers can find the action on TSN1 and TSN5.

Veteran announcer Rick Allen will lead the race’s lap-by-lap commentator. He’ll be joined by former Cup Series stars Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as well as former Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte.

Cord-cutters can follow the action on Peacock, as well as with Fubo, which offers a free trial.

MORE: Meet the final four racing for 2023 NASCAR Cup Series title

NASCAR start time today

  • Date: Sunday, November 5
  • Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Cup Series Championship has a listed start time of 3 p.m. ET., but pre-race festivities are expected to push the waving of the green flag closer to 3:32 p.m. ET.

NASCAR at Phoenix starting lineup 2023

Leading the field for Sunday night’s race are William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. Below is the rest of the starting lineup for the race:

Starting pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 William Byron (P) 24 Hendrick Motorsports
2 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
4 Kyle Larson (P) 5 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
6 Denny Hamlin 11 23XI Racing
7 Erik Jones 43 Legacy Motor Club
8 Ross Chastain 1 Trackhouse Racing
9 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing
10 Tyler Reddick 45 23XI Racing
11 Ty Gibbs 54 Joe Gibbs Racing
12 Ryan Preece 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
13 Christopher Bell (P) 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
14 Todd Gilliland 38 Front Row Motorsports
15 Ryan Blaney (P) 12 Team Penske
16 Daniel Suarez 99 Trackhouse Racing
17 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
18 Kyle Busch 8 Richard Childress Racing
19 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
20 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
21 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
22 Carson Hocevar 42 Legacy Motor Club
23 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
25 Harrison Burton 21 Wood Brothers Racing
26 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
27 Austin Cindric 2 Team Penske
28 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
29 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
30 Ryan Newman 51 Rick Ware Racing
31 A.J. Allmendinger 16 Kaulig Racing
32 Ty Dillon 77 Spire Motorsports
33 J.J. Yeley 15 Rick Ware Racing
34 Justin Haley 31 Kaulig Racing
35 B.J. McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
36 Brad Keselowski 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing

(P) = Playoff driver 

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