NASCAR Championship Race: Everything You Need To Know About Season Finale

It all comes down to this

After Philadelphia stole some of its thunder, Phoenix indeed will crown a champion this weekend.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season will conclude on Sunday with the Season Finale 500, an aptly titled championship race, at Phoenix Raceway. Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Team Penske stars Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are the four drivers eligible for the Cup title.

Hamlin and Elliott both are in search of their first championship, while Logano and Keselowski are looking to add a second to their impressive résumés.

Here’s the full lineup for the 312-lap Series Finale 500, which is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET:

(Note: Only the four Championship 4 drivers are able to start in the top four.)

1st – Chase Elliott
2nd – Joey Logano
3rd – Brad Keselowski
4th – Denny Hamlin
5th – Ryan Blaney
6th – Alex Bowman
7th – Kurt Busch
8th – Kyle Busch
9th – Clint Bowyer
10th – Aric Almirola
11th – Kevin Harvick
12th – Matt DiBenedetto
13th – Martin Truex Jr.
14th – Erik Jones
15th – Cole Custer
16th – Matt Kenseth
17th – Christopher Bell
18th – Austin Dillon
19th – Ryan Newman
20th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21st – Tyler Reddick
22nd – Ty Dillon
23rd – Bubba Wallace
24th – Ryan Preece
25th – William Byron
26th – Jimmie Johnson
27th – John Hunter Nemechek
28th – Corey LaJoie
29th – Michael McDowell
30th – Daniel Suarez
31st – Chris Buescher
32nd – J.J. Yeley
33rd – Timmy Hill
34th – Quin Houff
35th – Brennan Poole
36th – James Davison
37th – Joey Gase
38th – Josh Bilicki
39th – Garrett Smithley

So, how does this thing work?

NASCAR’s playoff system confuses many, but the championship race is refreshingly straightforward: The highest finishing driver among the four eligible for the championship wins the title — points do not come into play.

Fans can expect the rest of the field to get out of the way and allow Elliott, Hamlin, Logano and Keselowski to duke it out for the title. Additionally, it probably is a safe bet that one of the four drivers will win the race. The series champion has won the title race every year since the Championship Round era began in 2014.

Sunday’s race also will see three drivers call it a career: Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth and seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer is preparing for a shift to the broadcasting booth, whereas Johnson is set to move to IndyCar.

As for which driver has the best chances of winning, it’s hard to say. Logano and Hamlin have won the last two Phoenix races, respectively, and both regularly run well in the desert. However, Elliott has taken his game to another level during the playoffs, and Keselowski is as poised as they come.

In other words, this is anyone’s race. But we’re picking Hamlin to win his long-overdue first championship.

Thumbnail photo via Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports Images

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