The NASCAR Cup Series season comes to an end on November 7 with the championship race at Phoenix (3 p.m. ET, NBC). Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott will have the opportunity to make NASCAR history while simultaneously joining an esteemed list.
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet is the defending Cup Series champion, so he will go for his second consecutive title at Phoenix. If the 25-year-old Elliott can finish first among the championship four drivers, he would become the youngest driver to win multiple championships in the Cup Series. Additionally, he would become the 11th driver to win consecutive titles, per NASCAR media.
Buck Baker was the first driver to win consecutive titles, doing so in 1956-1957. Lee Petty joined him on the esteemed list with championships in 1958-1959. The list of drivers continues with some of the biggest names in NASCAR, including Joe Weatherly (1962-1963), David Pearson (1968-1969), “The King” Richard Petty (1971-1972, 1974-1975), Cale Yarborough (1976-1978), Darrell Waltrip (1981-1982), “The Intimidator” Dale Earnhardt (1986-1987, 1990-1991,1993-1994), and Jeff Gordon (1997-1998).
Of course, Jimmie Johnson holds the record for the most consecutive titles in Cup Series history. The driver of the No. 48 entry for Hendrick Motorsports locked up five of his seven championships from 2006-2010.
Elliott Has Favorable Odds To Repeat at Phoenix
The driver of the No. 9 HMS Chevrolet only has one victory at Phoenix Raceway in his Cup Series career, but it took place in the biggest race of the year. He started first in the season finale and led 153 of the 312 laps, the most out of the championship four drivers. He held off Brad Keselowski to capture the first title of his career.
According to BetMGM, Elliott will enter the championship weekend with the second-best odds to win. Kyle Larson, the winner of nine points-paying races in 2021, sits atop the list with 7-5 odds to win. Elliott is second with 11-4 odds, Denny Hamlin is at 4-1, and Martin Truex Jr. sits at 9-2.
Hamlin has two previous victories in the desert, reaching Victory Lane in 2012 and 2019. Truex has one win, which he registered on March 14, 2021, to further secure his spot in the playoff field. Larson, however, has not won at Phoenix during his Cup Series career.
A Battle Between Heavyweights Will Take Place at Phoenix
There are several organizations with championship trophies in the collection, but only two made it to the season finale at Phoenix. Two Hendrick Motorsports drivers will take on two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers for the Bill France Cup. Two of the drivers — Truex and Elliott — have previously won the Cup Series championship while Hamlin and Larson are in search of their first titles.
Based solely on the number of wins, the HMS cars will enter the weekend as the top options. Larson has nine wins while Elliott has two. Hamlin has two wins, both of which took place in the playoffs, while Truex has four. All four HMS cars have displayed consistent speed while the JGR drivers have occasionally struggled between wins. This trend has prompted strong comments from JGR ahead of the trip to Phoenix.
“Usually, a lot of times, JGR might be the favorite going into a championship race,” said Wally Brown, Joe Gibbs Racing’s competition director, per NASCAR media. “I think we’re definitely the underdogs. We have to beat the guy, Kyle Larson, that has won so many races, been so dominant this year. Then you have Chase, the reigning champion at this track. We’re definitely the underdog.”