MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Following the race results at Martinsville Speedway, William Byron joined Kyle Larson in the Championship 4. The two teammates will compete for a title against Ryan Blaney and Christopher Bell at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Chase Elliott and the No. 9 team ultimately fell short of advancing on the owner’s side of the playoffs. The team was in a must-win spot to move on to the final round.
Byron becomes the fifth driver in team history to qualify for the Championship 4 in the elimination-style playoff. This will be Larson’s second appearance in the title round. He won the championship in 2021, which was his first year with Hendrick Motorsports.
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Both drivers will be looking to add to the organization’s NASCAR Cup Series-best mark of 14 championships. Class of 2024 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jimmie Johnson is tied for the most championships in series history with seven (2006-10, 2013 and 2016). Team vice chairman and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon won four titles (1995, 1997-98 and 2001). Terry Labonte (1996), Elliott (2020) and Larson (2021) have each won a championship for team owner Rick Hendrick.
Elliott and Larson’s titles came at Phoenix Raceway, where the first of the Championship 4 contenders to cross the start/finish line was crowned the championship. Both drivers won at the 1-mile track to become champions. Since the inception of this format in 2014, the Cup Series champion has won the title race.
PHOTOS: See every Cup Series championship for Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports has 13 wins at Phoenix. The most recent of those came in the spring when Byron bested Larson on an overtime restart for the victory.
Get the lowdown on how each of the Hendrick Motorsports playoff drivers and teams are positioned for the championship race. Be sure to tune in to catch the action from Phoenix on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Note: All drivers in the Championship 4 start at 5,000 points. They will not earn stage points during the race at Phoenix. The first of the four title-eligible drivers to cross the start/finish will win the championship.
Kyle Larson, No. 5
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: Sixth at Martinsville.
CHAMPIONSHIP 4 APPEARANCE: Second (won championship in 2021).
PHOENIX OUTLOOK: In 18 starts at Phoenix, Larson has one win (November 2021 for the championship), seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s, two pole positions, 382 laps led and an average finish of 11.7. In the 2021 title race, he earned the pole position and led a race-high 107 laps. However, it was a clutch pit stop with 28 laps to go that put him in position to win his first Cup Series championship. In this year’s spring race, Larson won the pole and led a race-high 201 laps before finishing fourth to Byron in overtime. In the playoffs, Larson has been one of the strongest cars and has been in contention for the win late in seven of the nine races. His 503 laps led in the playoffs are the most among the four title-eligible drivers.
SPRING PHOENIX RESULT: Finished fourth.
William Byron, No. 24
PREVIOUS RACE RESULT: 13th at Martinsville.
CHAMPIONSHIP 4 APPEARANCE: First.
PHOENIX OUTLOOK: In 11 starts at Phoenix, Byron has one win (March 2023), one top-five finish, six top-10s, 91 laps led and an 11.9 average finish (fourth-best for him among tracks on the 2023 schedule). He has top-10 finishes in five of his last seven starts at the Arizona venue. In this year’s spring race, Byron ran in the top three nearly all day, leading 64 laps and scoring the race win in an overtime finish against Larson. The No. 24 crew’s clutch work in the pits on a two-tire call helped put Byron in position to beat his teammate in that race. Byron has been the most consistent driver this postseason with one win (Texas), five top-five finishes, seven top-10s and an average finish of 6.33.
SPRING PHOENIX RESULT: Finished first.
OVERALL DRIVER AND OWNER CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE
1-Ryan Blaney/No. 12 team: 5,000 points
2-Christopher Bell/No. 20 team: 5,000 points
3-Larson/No. 5 team: 5,000 points
4-Byron/No. 24 team: 5,000 points