NASCAR: Ryan Blaney championship keeps 66-year streak alive

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) /

Ryan Blaney passing Kyle Larson for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship prevented a 66-year streak from being snapped.

The only time that the champions of the NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar, and Formula 1 have all been the same in two separate seasons was back in 1956 and 1957.

Buck Baker won both Cup Series titles, Jimmy Bryan won both USAC Championship Car (IndyCar) titles, and Juan Manuel Fangio won both Formula 1 world championships.

Even though there have been a total of six seven-time champions across these three series over the last 60-plus years, such a scenario has never unfolded since.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson had a chance to bring an end to this streak of over six and a half decades on Sunday afternoon.

The 2021 champion was the highest running Championship 4 driver in the closing stages of the Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway before he was passed by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney with just a handful of laps remaining.

NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 streak remains intact

Had Larson won his second championship, the champions of these three series would have been the same as they were in 2021. Alex Palou won the IndyCar championship in both 2021 and 2023, while Max Verstappen won the Formula 1 world title in both 2021 and 2023.

But Blaney’s championship, which was astonishingly Roger Penske’s second in a row for the first time in Cup Series history, prevented this sweep from happening for what would have been a second time — and for what would have been the first time in non-consecutive seasons.

Prior to Sunday, the last time a Cup Series driver had a chance to end this streak in the Championship 4 was in 2020, when 2018 champion Joey Logano was one of the four remaining title contenders. 2018 IndyCar champion Scott Dixon also won the 2020 title, and 2018 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton also won the 2020 title.

But like Larson on Sunday, Logano could not hold onto a late lead, with Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott passing him and going on to secure his first championship.

Given that the unpredictable nature of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs was largely on par with that of the MLB postseason, it’s hard to say who next year’s title favorite will be.

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

Additionally, no IndyCar driver has won back-to-back titles since Dario Franchitti won three in a row from 2009 to 2011, so it’s anybody’s guess as to who next year’s favorite will be. Verstappen should be the favorite to win a fourth straight Formula 1 world title, but even there, nothing is a sure thing with such a huge focus on car development.