Ryan Blaney Wins First Cup Series Title as Ford Captures All Three NASCAR Championships for First Time in History

Nov 06, 2023
<2 MIN READ

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney drove Mustang to its second straight NASCAR Cup Series title at Phoenix Raceway, capping a weekend that saw Ford claim all three of NASCAR’s major touring titles for the first time in its history.

Blaney got the job done by finishing second in Sunday’s race, and beating fellow Championship 4 drivers Kyle Larson and William Byron, who ended up right behind in third and fourth, respectively. The race came down to a 31-lap dash to the finish. Blaney restarted sixth while Larson was third and Byron fifth, but the Team Penske driver passed Byron three laps later and then battled Larson for the next eight circuits before finally getting past him on lap 292 of the 312-lap event.

From that point on, he was able to maintain his advantage and finish second to race-winner Ross Chastain. For Blaney, it capped off a 10-race playoff season that saw him win twice (Talladega and Martinsville) and finish the last six races with an average finishing position of 4.0.  

Focus delivers results

“It was somewhat of an up and down year, but you’re going to have those moments,” said Blaney. “Through the summer, we just worked really hard to get back to where we needed to be and set a deadline for the playoffs and we met that deadline.  

The championship is the 11th for Ford in NASCAR’s top series with Blaney becoming the ninth different driver to achieve the feat.

“We didn’t win as many races as we would have liked to this year, but to win three championships just makes a statement about the team we have at Ford Performance and the partnership and the family that we have racing our cars and trucks on track, so I’m really proud of what everybody has done,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “Things could have gone in any direction, but Ryan was so strong today that he was driving to the front on every run and he was racing hard against everybody. He certainly earned the championship today.

Dramatic finishes for Ford

Ben Rhodes kicked off the trio of championships by winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night after four overtime restarts, and then Cole Custer followed suit on Saturday as he won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in a dramatic overtime finish that saw him go from third to first in the space of one lap.

“I thought it was over,” Custer said. “I mean, went from first to third, and I was able to shift the car all night. And Doug Yates horsepower worked out, pulled me off the corner. I can’t believe we won that thing after going back to third on that restart.”

The Championship for Custer is his first title in three Championship 4 appearances. 

Rhodes claimed his second series championship in the last three years, and the second consecutive for Ford, with a hard-earned fifth-place finish in the No. 99 Ford F-150.

“I can’t even believe it,” the 26-year-old Kentucky native said of his dramatic title win. “It’s just so awesome, man. To go 25 laps into overtime, do you know what that feels like? It’s crazy. I didn’t think we were going to make it. I thought we were going to pop a tire, that anything that could have gone wrong was going to go wrong.”

The Ford weekend championship sweep marks the first time a manufacturer has accomplished that feat since 2001, and it’s the sixth time in NASCAR history.

The Dark Horse is Coming

There will be a new Mustang running in the Cup Series next season. Ford recently unveiled the new Mustang Dark Horse-based car, which will run in the Cup Series in 2024. It will debut in February.