NASCAR: Do championship drivers score stage points at Phoenix?

Christopher Bell, NASCAR championship, Phoenix Raceway (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Christopher Bell, NASCAR championship, Phoenix Raceway (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

Four drivers are set to battle for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix Raceway, where the highest finisher is set to be crowned champion.

Sunday’s round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway set the field for this year’s NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney won the Xfinity 500 to become the third driver to lock himself into the winner-take-all round, while Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron locked himself in on points.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell had already clinched their Championship 4 spots with victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, respectively.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were eliminated, as were 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher.

All four Championship 4 drivers have had their point totals reset to 5,000 ahead of Sunday’s four-turn, 1.058-mile (1.703-kilometer) Avondale, Arizona oval.

Do stage points matter in the NASCAR Cup Series championship battle?

Stage points are still on offer in Sunday’s season finale. However, the four Championship 4 drivers cannot score any. For those four drivers, it’s simple: finish ahead of the other three, and you win the championship.

Stage points in Sunday’s race will still work the same way, however. For example, if a driver ineligible for stage points finishes stage one in sixth place, that driver will simply score no stage points; the seventh place driver won’t get sixth place points just because the sixth place finisher didn’t score any.

As always, stage points will still go to no more than the top 10 drivers in each stage.

This has been the case ever since stage racing was introduced to the Cup Series in 2017, and in every year since, the winner of the season finale has been crowned champion. In fact, since the Championship 4 format was introduced in 2014, no season finale has ever been won by a non-Championship 4 driver.

With 40 points awarded to the race winner, all champions in the Championship 4 era have ended the season with 5,040 points.

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The NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Phoenix Raceway beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, November 5. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!