The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here – Championship Weekend. The NASCAR Xfinity Series wrapped up the Round of 8 last weekend at Martinsville Speedway and will now be heading to Phoenix Raceway to determine this year’s Xfinity Series champion. Four drivers – Noah Gragson, Josh Berry, Ty Gibbs and Justin Allgaier – will vie for the NASCAR Xfinity Series title in the Championship Race on Saturday. November 5 at 6 p.m. ET on the USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). All four drivers are looking for their first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
In total, there have been 41 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Phoenix Raceway, producing 22 different race winners and 21 different pole winners. William Byron became the track’s youngest winner when he snagged the checkered flag in November of 2017 at 19 years, 10 months and 13 days old. Greg Biffle sits as the track’s oldest winner when he made the trip to Victory Lane in 2009 at 39 years, three months and 25 days old.
Kyle Busch has etched his name in the track’s record books, holding the record for most poles (10), wins (11), top 10s (20), lead lap finishes (23), and laps led (2,234). He also is tied for most top fives with Kevin Harvick at 17 each and holds the qualifying record at 138.504 mph.
This season marks the third time that Phoenix Raceway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race (2020-2022). From 2016 to 2019, the Playoffs’ season finale was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway before it was moved to Phoenix in 2020. Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2016 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, five of the six winners of the Championship Race have also claimed the championship that season – Daniel Suarez (2016), Tyler Reddick (2018, 2019), Austin Cindric (2020) and Daniel Hemric (2021).
|Track||Championship Race Winners||Date||Race No.|
|Homestead||Daniel Suarez||Saturday, November 19, 2016||33|
|Homestead||Cole Custer||Saturday, November 18, 2017||33|
|Homestead||Tyler Reddick||Saturday, November 17, 2018||33|
|Homestead||Tyler Reddick||Saturday, November 16, 2019||33|
|Phoenix||Austin Cindric||Saturday, November 7, 2020||33|
|Phoenix||Daniel Hemric||Saturday, November 6, 2021||33|
Drivers will hit the track for their last practice of the season at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 4 on the USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports App. Qualifying will be the next day on Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. ET only on the NBC Sports App.
Meet the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 contenders
The field is set and the four drivers competing for the 2022 title at Phoenix Raceway this weekend are JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson, Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs.
Let’s take a closer look into these drivers’ careers and what brought them to the Championship 4 Round this season.
Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Gragson has had a stand-out season, posting eight wins (Phoenix, Talladega, Pocono, Darlington, Kansas, Bristol, Texas, Homestead), 20 top fives and 25 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 975 laps and has maintained an average start of 7.0 and an average finish of 8.3. In addition, Gragson has posted solid season-to-date loop statistics, including a driver rating of 114.0 (series best) an average running position of 7.253 (series best) and a total of 492 fastest laps run (second-best).
Playoff Recap: Gragson has had a strong Playoff run this season, having finished inside the top-10 in all six Playoff races. He kicked off the Round of 12 with a win at Texas, followed by a 10th-place finish at Talladega and a third-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course. In the Round of 8, he had a runner-up finish at Las Vegas, followed by a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round and then a fourth-place finish at Martinsville last weekend.
The 2022 season marks his fourth Xfinity Playoff appearance (2019-2022). This will be the second time he has competed in the Championship 4 Round (2021,2022). His first stint was last season where he finished the race in the 12th position, putting him in third in the 2021 final championship standings.
Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet is no stranger to Phoenix Raceway. In his seven starts, he’s posted one win (2022), two top fives and four top 10s.
Crew Chief Corner – Luke Lambert: Lambert is in his first full-time season with Gragson but had one full-time Xfinity Series season with Elliott Sadler in 2012 and has 10 years of Cup Series experience. In his 65 Xfinity Series starts, he’s led his teams to 12 wins, 35 top fives and 49 top 10s.
Ty Gibbs (No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Gibbs came into his first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a bang, posting six wins (Las Vegas, Atlanta, Richmond, Road America, Michigan, Martinsville), 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 865 laps and has managed an average start of 5.6 and an average finish of 9.4. Gibbs has also put up great season-to-date stats, including a driver rating of 112.2 (second-best), an average running position of 8.351 (third-best) and a total of 532 fastest laps run (series best).
Playoff Recap: Gibbs has had a great run in his first-ever Xfinity Series Playoffs. He started with a third-place finish at Texas and a seventh-place finish at Talladega, followed by a runner-up finish at the Charlotte Road Course to close out the Round of 12. To kick off the Round of 8, he finished fourth at Las Vegas, runner-up at Homestead and made the trip to Victory Lane in the last race of the Round of 8 at Martinsville to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 Round.
Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has only two starts at the one-mile Phoenix track. He posted a runner-up finish last season in his Xfinity Series Phoenix Raceway debut and finished sixth earlier this season.
Crew Chief Corner – Chris Gayle: Although this is Gibbs and Gayle’s first full-time season together, they know each other on the track quite well. Last season when Gibbs ran a part-time schedule, Gayle was called to be his crew chief.
Gayle has both Cup and Xfinity Series experience. He spent five years in the Cup Series, four of those seasons with Erik Jones (2017-2020). In the Xfinity Series, he’s had 197 starts over the span of six years posting 36 wins, 83 top fives and 132 top 10s.
Josh Berry (No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Berry has had an impressive season with his three wins (Dover, Charlotte, Las Vegas) 11 top fives and 20 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 356 laps and has managed an average start of 9.4 and an average finish of 10.7. He’s posted positive numbers in season-to-date loop data statistics, including a driver rating of 96.3 (fifth-best), an average running position of 10.671 (seventh-best) and a total of 285 fastest laps run (fourth-best).
Playoff Recap: Berry had a great start to the Playoffs, posting a sixth-place finish at Texas, a fifth-place finish at Talladega and an eighth-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course. He clinched his way into the Championship 4 with a win in the first race in the Round of 8 (Las Vegas), followed by an eleventh-place finish at Homestead and a 20th-place finish at Martinsville. The 2022 season marks his first Playoff appearance in the Xfinity Series.
Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet only has two starts at Phoenix Raceway. Last season, he fell victim to a crash and finished 36th but redeemed himself earlier this season with a third-place finish when the Xfinity Series ran there in March.
Crew Chief Corner – Mike Bumgarner: Bumgarner is in his first full-time season with Berry and the No. 8 team. In his seven years and 129 starts in the Xfinity Series, he’s helped his teams to eight wins, 38 top fives and 72 top 10s.
He also has a few Cup Series races under his belt, having ran with Terry Labonte in 2004 and 2006 for select races.
Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Allgaier could consider himself a Xfinity Series veteran, having competed in the Playoffs every year since its inception in 2016. He’s had a great season, racking up three wins (Darlington, Nashville, New Hampshire), 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in his 32 starts. He’s led a total of 737 laps this season and has managed an average start of 8.9 and an average finish of 10.8. In addition, his season-to-date loop data statistics look great, including a driver rating of 105.2 (fourth-best), an average running position of 8.656 (fourth-best) and a total of 434 fastest laps run (third-best).
Playoff Recap: Allgaier had a rough start in the Round of 12, posting a 29th-place finish in Texas, a 15th-place finish in Talladega and a fifth-place finish on the Charlotte Road Course to advance to the Round of 8. But things really turned around in the Round of 8 for Berry, when he posted a third-place finish in Las Vegas, a 10th-place finish at Homestead-Miami and a fifth-place finish in Martinsville, where he clinched his spot in the Championship 4 on points.
Allgaier is the only driver in the Xfinity Series to make an appearance in all seven Playoffs since 2016. He’s appeared in the Champ 4 a series leading five times.
Phoenix Raceway Outlook: The driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet has loads of experience on the one-mile Phoenix track. In his 24 starts, he’s posted two wins (2017, 2019), eight top fives and 16 top 10s, and he holds the record for most laps completed at 4,815.
Crew Chief – Jason Burdett: Burdett has been with Allgaier for seven of the eight years he’s been a crew chief in the Xfinity Series. Together, they have 226 starts, 16 wins, 98 top fives and 156 top 10s.
Burdett had one stint in the Cup Series in 2007 with Dale Jarrett (14 races).
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – The only rookie who made it in the 2022 Playoffs, Austin Hill continues to lead the Sunoco Xfinity Series rookie class with 2,245 points. Richard Childress Racing teammate Sheldon Creed slides in next with 713 points.
Kyle Sieg sits in third with 182 points and Jesse Iwuji takes the final rookie spot with 94 points.
Garrett Smithley to compete with BJ McLeod Motorsports in 2023 – Garrett Smithley will be running a full-time season with BJMM behind the wheel of the No. 78 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2023.
Smithley has been a full-time NASCAR driver since 2015. He’s made 200+ starts across NASCAR’s national series and has put up some great finishes, including a top-five finish in Daytona in 2018 and a top-10 finish at Talladega that same year.
“I’ve raced with Garrett (Smithley) for several years now, and respect his path, talent and passion,” said BJ McLeod. “I often tell people that he has “made it,” and most people do not understand what I mean by that. His story is truly one of hard work, passion and talent. The ability Garrett has shown behind the wheel for several years including racing around me is something that I wish more people had a front row seat like I have. Jessica (McLeod) and I are so honored to have Garrett represent and drive for us. The future is bright.”