Sunday, 08 November 2020 12:46

The Championship 4 has ties to The Rock

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Today, NASCAR ends it’s 2020 season with the championship race at Phoenix Raceway. Four drivers — Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski — will battle it out for the Bill France Cup.


While Rockingham Speedway hasn’t been on a NASCAR schedule since 2013, the Championship 4 drivers and teams have roots that tie back to the historic track.

2018 Cup Series champion Joey Logano can trace his career back to the return to racing at The Rock in 2008 when ARCA came to town with the Carolina 500 as the first race under the Andy Hillenburg’s ownership.

Logano was three weeks away from his 18th birthday and the youngest driver in the field of 50 cars when he snagged the pole, driving for Venturini Motorsports. Logano went on to dominate the race, leading 257 out of 312 laps and almost putting the entire field a lap down. 

In the final 5 lap shootout, Logano battled with fresh tires against current Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for his first win in ARCA.

Logano’s last visit to Rockingham was in 2013 for the Gander Outdoor and RV Truck Series race. After pulling off a fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on a Saturday night, Logano flew back to the Sandhills for an afternoon race in the cool spring North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, Logano battled against many current Cup Series drivers, including both BKR and Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson.

Logano fought around the top 10 all afternoon and landed with a second-place finish behind Larson.

While 2012 Cup Champion Brad Keselowski has never raced at Rockingham, his truck team has had two races at The Rock. In 2012, Parker Kligerman drove the 29 Ford for Keselowski, placing ninth. In addition to the second place finish by Logano in the 19 truck in 2013, Ryan Blaney took eighth with the 29.

Hamlin has also never laid rubber on the one-mile track, but his current team owner Joe Gibbs, has seen success at The Rock. Venturini Motorsports was a satellite team for Joe Gibbs Racing when Logano won the 2008 ARCA race.

On the Cup level, Gibbs has one win at Rockingham back in 2000 with Bobby Labonte taking the checkered flag in the 18 Pontiac, beating legend Dale Earnhardt to the stripe. Gibbs also had a fourth-place finish that same day with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart.

NASCAR’s new most popular driver, Chase Elliott, has made a mark on Richmond County’s oval. In 2013, the then-18-year-old placed fifth with Hendrick Motorsports’ 94 Chevrolet.

The Dawsinville, Georgia, native also took a 12th place finish in the 2012 ARCA Classic 3 Championship race, going on to end his season fourth in the standings at 24 points behind champion Kyle Larson.

Joe Gibbs Racing will be battling Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports as representatives to the Championship 4 and both Penske and Hendrick have historically been successful at The Rock.

Penske took home three trophies with Rusty Wallace behind the steering wheel of the 2 car, which is now driven by Keselowski. Wallace swept the two 1993 races as well as the spring 1994 event.

Hendrick’s Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon has four wins of his own at Rockingham. While it is not branded as the 24 car, Elliott is driving the same Chevy of the four-time champion under the 9 banner.

Whoever wins the 2020 Championship, someone will look back on their past to this moment and can trace their path of success through Rockingham.