NASCAR team wins championship after missing 2022 playoffs

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR Cup Series championship (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR Cup Series championship (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

While Ryan Blaney was a playoff driver, his No. 12 team didn’t even make it to the owner playoffs during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Now they are both champions.

Ryan Blaney has been a playoff driver in each of the last seven NASCAR Cup Series seasons going back to his final season with Wood Brothers Racing, where he remains the most recent race winner, in 2017.

However, the same cannot be said for his No. 12 Team Penske team, the team with which Blaney secured his first career championship on Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway.

This year’s owner championship went to a team that did not even make last year’s playoffs, despite the fact that their driver did.

In total, there were 16 playoff eligible drivers who found victory lane throughout the 2022 regular season, and Blaney was not one of them, despite finishing the regular season in third place in the standings.

However, one of them was 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch, who won the May race at Kansas Speedway. Busch ultimately withdrew from the playoffs after suffering a head injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway later that season, which allowed Blaney to take the 16th and final playoff spot as the highest non-winner in the standings.

But the NASCAR Cup Series driver playoffs and the owner playoffs are not one in the same.

Because Busch had won at Kansas, the No. 45 team remained locked into the owner playoffs, even after he withdrew from the driver playoffs. Blaney’s No. 12 team was still left on the outside looking in, even though their driver ended up getting in.

Blaney advanced to the round of 8 last season, while the No. 12 team finished as high as they possibly could in the owner standings as a non-playoff team: 17th place.

This season, Blaney converted his fifth career round of 8 appearance into his first career Championship 4 appearance, and with the No. 12 team in the round of 8 as well, they locked into the Championship 4 on the owner side when he won the round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway.

Blaney and the No. 12 team clinched this year’s titles by finishing the season finale higher than Kyle Larson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team, William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team, and Christopher Bell and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team.

Ironically, the last time the championship team did not make the playoffs the previous season also happened when a Team Penske driver won the title.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Joey Logano and the No. 22 team did not make the 2017 playoffs after their victory at Richmond Raceway was encumbered, but they responded by winning the 2018 championship. In that scenario, however, both driver and team missed the playoffs the year before. In Blaney’s case, only his team missed out in 2022.