NASCAR: Five drivers most likely to win 2022 Cup Series finale

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 13: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 UniFirst Chevrolet, gives a thumbs up to fans during the red carpet prior to the Ruoff Mortgage 500 during at Phoenix Raceway on March 13, 2022 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season will come to a close on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. While the majority of the attention will be on the four drivers vying to win a championship, there will be more than 30 other drivers on the track trying to end the season on a high note.

This season has proven that anything can happen on the track once the green flag flies. Coming into the weekend, 19 different drivers have visited victory lane. If the final race of the season produces a new winner, it will set a modern-day record for the number of different winners in the Cup Series. Several drivers can take home the checkered flag in Phoenix, but there are five drivers who stand out amongst the rest.

Kevin Harvick

Over the last five races at Phoenix Raceway, no other driver in the NASCAR Cup Series has had more Top 10 finishes than Kevin Harvick. Over that span, Harvick finished inside the Top 10 in each of those races, leading to an average finishing position of 5.8. Despite the consistency, Harvick has only finished inside the Top five once in those five races.

2022 has been challenging at times for Harvick, which has led to mixed results on the racetrack. In 35 races, Harvick has two wins this season, but he only has eight Top five finishes. While Harvick likely isn’t the trendy pick this weekend, there is something to be said for consistency. Despite his struggles the last couple of seasons, Harvick has remained consistent at Phoenix. Running up front on a regular basis might open the door for him to punch his ticket into victory lane one more time before the season ends.

Joey Logano

There hasn’t been a better driver in the Cup Series than Joey Logano at Phoenix over the last five races. During that span, Logano has an average finishing position of 5th. The driver of the No. 22 machine has also led 332 laps in those five races, the second-most of any driver in the Cup Series. Logano’s dominance at Phoenix Raceway has produced a win and three Top five finishes.

Logano has three wins to his credit this season, good enough for second in the series (tied with three others). A victory on Sunday would push him into second place by himself. More importantly, a victory on Sunday would clinch the 2022 championship for Logano and his team. Given his previous success at Phoenix, it’s hard not to consider Logano the hands-down favorite this weekend.

Kyle Larson

Outside of the four drivers competing for the championship on Sunday, Kyle Larson easily has the most to gain. For the first time in NASCAR’s modern era, the season could end with the Owners’ Champion and the Drivers’ Champion not being one in the same. Prior to the modern era, this happened twice; in 1954 and 1963.

While the story itself is noteworthy enough, Larson’s recent success at Phoenix Raceway makes the possibility even more probable. Over his last four races, Larson has one win, two Top fives, and three Top 10 finishes. A win on Sunday would also push Larson’s season win total to four, good enough for second in the series.

Ross Chastain

At Phoenix Raceway, Ross Chastain doesn’t have quite the same record as the other drivers on this list. However, Chastain earns his spot amongst the others because of the manner in which he punched his ticket into NASCAR’s Championship 4. Chastain’s video game move last week has to make you wonder what he might do to win a championship if the opportunity presents itself. If Chastain is willing to ride the wall for a shot to race for a championship, you would have to imagine that there aren’t any stops he won’t pull out to actually win said championship.

That being said, Chastain will have to overcome his recent streak of mediocre finishes at Phoenix. Over the last four races, Chastain’s average finishing position has been 14.5. During that span, he only had one finish inside of the Top 10.

Chase Elliott

A win on Sunday in Phoenix would clinch a championship for Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team. A win on Sunday would also wrap up what has been a dominant 2022 campaign for Elliott. In 36 races, Elliott has won five times and finished inside the Top 10 20 times. Elliott leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins and Top 10 finishes.

Aside from dominating the 2022 season, Elliott has also dominated Phoenix over the last five races. In those races, Elliott has one win and four Top 10 finishes. He has also led 390 laps, the most of any Cup Series driver over the last five races. Elliott’s average finish of 5.8 is tied with Kevin Harvick, and right behind Joey Logano and the No. 22 team.

The NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race will air live at 3 PM EST on NBC this Sunday.

Featured Image Credit: Logan Riley/Getty Images