Back in March when the 2020 NASCAR season paused because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it was unclear if the season would pick back up, and, if it did, if the sport would make it to the championship weekend in November.
Well, NASCAR made it.
Sunday’s Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET, NBC) is exactly that: the 36th and final race of the season that will determine the Cup Series champion. And, after nine playoff races this fall, 12 drivers have been eliminated from the postseason, and it all comes down to the Championship 4.
Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are the remaining championship-eligible drivers, but they don’t have to win the race to win the title. They just have to have the highest finish among the final four contenders — though recent champions have won the race, as well.
So here’s a look at the Championship 4 drivers, their seasons and histories at Phoenix and their last-minute odds, as of Saturday, per BetMGM.
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Odds to win 2020 title: +240
2020 stats: 7 wins, 17 top-5s, 20 top-10s
Best Phoenix finish: 1st (2012, 2019)
Most recent Phoenix finish: 20th
What he said: “It’s going to take execution and a fast car. Those are the two things that you’re going to have to do to win. I think it will take a win to win it all. … I don’t think there’s any favorites. I view all my competition equally, that they’re all dangerous in their own different ways. This one is a tough one to handicap. From my perspective, I’m a numbers guy, I like the law of averages. If I just keep putting myself in that final four, eventually things will fall my way.”
Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Odds to win 2020 title: +240
2020 stats: 4 wins, 14 top-5s, 21 top-10s
Best Phoenix finish: 2nd (2017)
Most recent Phoenix finish: 7th
What he said: “I don’t care who the favorite is or who the underdog is. I just want to go, have a good run, try to win, achieve our goals. … When we’ve been at our best, I feel like we’ve competed with the best in the series. I think if we do the right things, make the right calls throughout the week, the right adjustments and tweaks on the car from that first race, there’s no reason why I don’t think we can go and have a shot.”
Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford
2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion
Odds to win 2020 title: +300
2020 stats: 4 wins, 12 top-5s, 23 top-10s
Best Phoenix finish: 2nd (2018)
Most recent Phoenix finish: 11th
What he said: “There’s nothing guaranteed, but I’m very confident we’re going to go there and be very competitive and have a great shot to win the race. That’s what I can guarantee, is that we’ll be there, we’ll be focused, my team is going to bring a great car, and the chips will fall where they will from there. But our preparation and all that will — it’s already at a very high level, and I feel good about that.”
Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford
2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion
Odds to win 2020 title: +275
2020 stats: 3 wins, 11 top-5s, 20 top-10s
Best Phoenix finish: 1st (2016, 2020)
Most recent Phoenix finish: 1st
What he said about his title chances: “We got to believe in each other, we got to believe in ourselves, we got to believe we can win, we’ve got to believe we’re the best. Be humble to work and find gains, but believe in us. … The experience is there, the speed is there. I think the mentality of the way we race is there. I truly believe that we’re the favorites to win this thing.”
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