There are still two races in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and seven drivers are vying for the last three open positions in the Championship’s fourth.
Joey Logano is the only driver to compete for the championship at the end of the season in Phoenix on November 6.
On October 30, he will be joined by three other drivers based on where they finished the standings after the penultimate race of the 2022 season at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin sit above the fourth championship streak after Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. These three drivers will need to drive defensively next weekend to stay above the limit.
William Bryon, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney and Christopher Bell will all need to put in a solid performance in Martinsville in order to maintain their hopes of winning their first NASCAR Cup Series title.
While Lugano and Elliott already know what it means to win a cup title, the remaining six contenders have never been cup champions before.
When asked how he felt about being on a fishing trip with two races to do, Chastain said, “I don’t know. What’s that supposed to feel like? I’ve never been here before. For Trackhouse (Racing), we learn all this together; we experience this together. .
“We have a lot of knowledge in our shop and I’m going to rely on a lot of my teammates, both at GM camp and inside our shop on how to handle it. But I’m a racer. We’re just on our way to racing. Go practice as much as we can; we’ll qualify as best we can.” And I’m late all the time, so a grandfather’s watch (which prize winners receive in Martinsville) might do me a little bit for the rest of my life.”
Chastain is still one of the favorites to win it all, but for the other drivers, their chances are lower.
Blaney, who has yet to win the all-season points drive race, is one of the drivers who could be eliminated next weekend. Ford’s 12th in Blaney’s car finished 17th at Homestead after spinning on a pit road because, as he described his actions himself, he “turned down like a idiot.”
This year’s Daytona 500 winner As a rookie, Blaney knows what to do in Martinsville.
“We’ll go try and make a good run,” he said. “I thought we had a race-winning car there last time and I just hope we have the same speed and can put ourselves in a position to win. That’s what we have to do.”
Another Ford driver likely to need a win to stay in the title race next weekend is Chase Briscoe.
The 27-year-old Hosier retired from Sunday’s race after his car sustained damage when scraping the outer wall in Turns 1 and 2 on lap 160.
“It’s really frustrating having to do it myself,” Briscoe said of the accident. “I’m better than bumping into myself.
“It’s really unfortunate. I think it makes our work easier next week. We don’t have to worry about points. We have to go to Martinsville and win.”
But perhaps no driver will face a more difficult battle to advance to the fourth championship than Christopher Bell.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver was in the wrong place at the wrong time during the race in Las Vegas on October 16. At that race, an angry Bubba Wallace took out Kyle Larson after he was upset about how Larson raced with him.
Unfortunately, Larson crashed into Bell’s car as it skidded across the track, and Bell finished in 34th. He had a better showing in 11th at Homestead, but he’s still 8th overall and would need a miracle to advance to the 4th championship.
“I’m disappointed with our performance today, but at least that’s on our hands,” Bell said after Homestead. “Last week, I was emotional about it because it was out of our hands, and we were doing really well.
“Today, it was in our hands, we didn’t move at all and do what we needed to do. It was frustrating but we’re going to go to Martinsville. We ran really well in the spring. I definitely feel better about winning there than I did on the Charlotte course.”
The penultimate round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series takes place at Martinsville Speedway this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.