The NASCAR season is drawing to a close, with just two races remaining. Next up is Phoenix Raceway, in which each series will have its final four contenders racing for the championship at Homestead.
In the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson both clinched their spots with wins at Martinsville and Texas, respectively. One would think that Kevin Harvick would be in contention to win at Phoenix, with his great track record over the past three years. He also has never been eliminated since the playoff format began in 2014. He’s definitely gonna be one to watch.
Can Joey Logano hold on to advance to Miami, like he did in 2014? He finished in 2nd place last year at Phoenix, in a rain-shortened race, one spot short of advancing to the final four in a season which he won six races. Would he have won if last year’s race ran to completion? We will never know?
Since it’s official that at least one Joe Gibbs car will be left out of the final 4, it’s come down to Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch, the defending champion.
Kyle Busch is the defending champion, and currently is tied for the last final 4 spot. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are tied, just a single point behind. For Matt Kenseth to reach the final four, it would be somewhat of a redemption after being suspended for the last two races for wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville.
Kurt Busch needs a win if he has any hopes of advancing.
XFINITY SERIES Round of 8
No driver has punched their ticket to Miami, but Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler are in the best position. They have been battling neck and neck this season. For Sadler, this season, in a way, is a comeback for the former Sprint Cup veteran. Suarez’ success should come as no surprise considering he and Erik Jones are part of the dynamic Joe Gibbs Racing.
Erik Jones, last year’s truck champion, managed to advance to the Round of 8 despite a late wreck at Kentucky. He’s currently six points to the good, but things can always change.
Blake Koch is the real underdog story. He sits a single point over Justin Allgaier. His chances of advancing to the final four depend on him outrunning Allgaier. If Kaulig Racing can make it to the championship round, that, in and of itself, would be a great accomplishment, and hopefully can lead to him getting a decent Cup ride. Either way the results play out at Phoenix, Kaulig Racing has nothing to be ashamed of for their efforts this year.
Ryan Reed, at five points behind 4th place, can still point his way in, but he will need a bit of help to do so. Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brendan Gaughan, due to their troubles at Kansas, are in a must-win situation in order to punch their ticket into the final round.
Camping World Truck Series Round of 6
Johnny Sauter, with two wins, has already clinched a spot in the championship round. William Byron, the outstanding rookie with six wins this season, is looking to punch his ticket and become Kyle Busch Motorsports’ second consecutive truck series champion, also unseating Erik Jones as the youngest truck champion. Christopher Bell, sitting three points above the cut line, has the same aspirations.
Longtime Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton is sitting in 4th place, one point ahead of winless Timothy Peters. Ben Kennedy is likely going to have to win to get in, unless some chaos happens early in the race.