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NASCAR Champion Week Recap: Triumphs, Tributes, and Transitions

NASCAR Champion Week Recap: NASCAR Champion Week culminated at the Music City Center on Thursday night, spotlighting the crowning of Ryan Blaney, who clinched the NASCAR Cup Series title after an intense battle among the Championship 4 contenders at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5.

The 29-year-old Blaney, despite finishing second to Ross Chastain in the season finale, managed to cross the finish line ahead of Playoff contenders Kyle Larson and William Byron, securing both his first Cup championship and Roger Penske’s second consecutive team triumph.

“Among competitors, we may not always see eye to eye, but racing alongside the world’s best every week is a genuine honor that I greatly appreciate,” expressed Blaney, following an introduction from NASCAR president Steve Phelps and a gracious welcome from Whiskey Myers, one of his favorite bands.

Blaney hails from a racing dynasty, with his father, Dave Blaney, and uncle, Dale Blaney, as celebrated figures in sprint car racing.

“Watching Dad race while growing up, that was my dream, to emulate him,” shared Blaney. “I was fortunate to witness that at a young age and understand both the driver’s perspective and how teams operate.”

Praising team owner Roger Penske, Blaney acknowledged the over-a-decade-long relationship, expressing immense gratitude for the opportunity to bring a championship home.

“Roger and Kathy Penske—hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since our first meeting. As a kid, all I wanted was to win you a championship and succeed, being a huge fan not just in NASCAR but across motorsports,” Blaney reflected.

This season, Blaney secured Penske’s consecutive Cup championships, guided by crew chief Jonathan Hassler.

“Ryan holds the championship, but consider his stature within the garage among other teams and drivers. He’s a champion there too, which is pivotal in this sport’s ladder,” emphasized Penske.

Chase Elliott, for the sixth consecutive year, clinched the National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award. Joining him on stage, Elliott sported a sling on his left arm post a recent offseason shoulder surgery.

Ty Gibbs earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the top-tier NASCAR series, showcasing an impressive debut full-time season with ten top-10 finishes and a best result of fourth.

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers, all 16, graced the stage during the ceremony. Michael McDowell, a former Daytona 500 victor and winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course this year, lightened the evening with a humorous touch.

“It took me a long time not to be terrible,” McDowell humorously remarked.

Kevin Harvick bid adieu to full-time Cup racing after 23 seasons, leaving a poignant image of his final exit from the car in Phoenix.

“When I stepped out of my car in Phoenix, there wasn’t another (race),” reflected Harvick, who transitions into a prominent role as a FOX Sports analyst.

Brad Keselowski, co-owner/driver at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, commended the progress the team made in 2023, with both him and teammate Chris Buescher qualifying for the Playoffs.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer clinched his maiden NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, reflecting on personal growth after three challenging years in the top division.

“Cole has matured immensely, and witnessing him secure the Xfinity Series championship is incredibly gratifying,” lauded team owner Gene Haas.

NASCAR Champion Week Recap (1)

In the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Ben Rhodes triumphed for ThorSport Racing, securing his second title. Rhodes credited his team for resilience amid adversity.

While several drivers received awards, the ceremony also honored industry figures like Rich Kramer of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, recognized for his significant contributions, and Molly Moran from Comfort Zone Camp, recipient of the prestigious Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award for her work in aiding bereaved children.

Sherry Pollex, partner of Martin Truex Jr., was posthumously honored with the NMPA Myers Brothers Award, commemorating her valiant fight against ovarian cancer.

ALSO READ: NASCAR Champion Week: Celebrating in Nashville with Stars and Spectacles

Our Reader’s Queries

Will the 2023 NASCAR Awards Banquet be televised?

The upcoming NASCAR Awards ceremony will recognize the achievements of Craftsman Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes, Xfinity Series champion Cole Custer, and Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney. Additionally, the highly anticipated NMPA Most Popular Driver Award winner will be revealed. The event will be broadcasted on Peacock at 7 p.m. ET on Dec, providing fans with an opportunity to celebrate their favorite drivers.

What channel is the Nascar banquet on tonight?

Regrettably, individuals hoping to view the banquet will not be able to do so on conventional television or on the same night, as it will be broadcasted at a later time. The initial chance to watch it on TV will be on Sunday, December 3rd at 7:00 PM EST, exclusively on Peacock.

Who is the current Nascar Cup champion?

Get ready for an unforgettable experience at the 2023 Champion’s Week in Nashville! Fans will have plenty of chances to join in on the season celebrations, from spotting their favorite drivers on the iconic Broadway Street to witnessing a NASCAR champion car parade on Wednesday. This year, there will be multiple award ceremonies on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings, making it an event you won’t want to miss. So mark your calendars and get ready to be a part of the action-packed festivities!

Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatiahttps://slicksandsticks.com/
Khushal Bhatia, a distinguished BA (Hons) English graduate from St. Stephen College (University of Delhi) and a holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (English) from IIMC Delhi, is an accomplished journalist. Currently affiliated with Slicksandsticks.com, Khushal is an expert in covering a range of sports topics with a specialization in motorsports, particularly NASCAR. His insightful articles explore the nuances of the sporting world, providing readers with comprehensive analysis and the latest updates. With a commitment to unbiased reporting, Khushal's expertise and authoritative voice make him a reliable source for sports enthusiasts.
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