Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin headed to Phoenix Raceway on Sunday afternoon to secure the Bill France Cup. They were the only four drivers remaining in contention for the NASCAR Cup Series championship, and they continued to battle throughout all three stages. Ultimately, Chase Elliott finished ahead of his peers and won the championship for the very first time in his career.
With the victory, Elliott repeated history. In 1988, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers both won championships. NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, his father, then won the Cup Series championship. Fast-forward to 2020, the Lakers and Dodgers won their respective championships and created questions about whether Elliott could repeat history. He did just that, taking the lead in Stage 3 and never looking back.
The Season Finale 500 started poorly for Elliott, considering that his car failed inspection twice before the opening pace laps. Instead of starting from the pole position, he had to begin the race at the rear of the pack. Logano and Keselowski moved to the front row and led the drivers to green.
However, Elliott did not remain in the rear for long. He used the bottom of the track to his advantage and sped around several drivers, ultimately making his way back into contention. He continued to fight for stage wins — although Logano won the first while Keselowski won the second.
A NEW ERA OF ELLIOTT BEGINS!November 8, 2020
The end of Stage 2 sparked numerous reactions on social media, considering that Elliott led the field into the final lap. Keselowski was on his fellow driver's tail but didn't appear to have an opening to make a move. The situation changed when Elliott slowed a bit, entering the final corner. Keselowski kept his foot on the gas and took a stunning lead to secure the stage win.
Hamlin and Logano both kept fans engaged in the race throughout the afternoon. Logano won Stage 1 and appeared to have a dominant car early while Hamlin struggled to find speed. The No. 11 team made some adjustments and helped Hamlin get back into contention.
While many NASCAR fans expected Kevin Harvick to lead for most of the race and ultimately win, he remained further back in the pack. The driver that won nine races during the 2020 season couldn't keep up with the championship four. Hamlin, Keselowski, Logano and Elliott continued to hold the top four spots, alternating positions with each passing lap.
Now that the season is over, the four championship drivers will look ahead to 2021. Hamlin will search for another Daytona 500 win in February while also serving as a 23XI Racing co-owner. Logano and Keselowski will both return to Team Penske with the Bill France Cup on their minds. Finally, Elliott will help form a new Hendrick Motorsports roster now that Jimmie Johnson is done with Cup racing and Kyle Larson is joining the team. Of course, his focus will remain on winning a second championship.