HOMESTEAD, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR Championship weekend hits South Florida as all three NASCAR Touring Series will crown Champions.
This Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. along with Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will be fighting for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Title. Busch, Truex and Harvick will be going for their second titles while Hamlin is still seeking his first.
“I think one race, winner take all, anything can happen,” said Hamlin. “I mean, if you have a mechanical failure on lap 25, does that mean you’re not good enough? You made the final four. Making the final four is the culmination of your whole year. That is what deems your year a success. You made it to Homestead.”
Truex is the most recent Champion fighting for his second title. Truex won his first Championship, holding off Kyle Busch by .681-seconds, to win in 2017 when he drove for the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing.
“It’s amazing to be here having another opportunity at a championship,” said Truex. “I still have a hard time believing I’ve already got one, let alone here we are with a really, really good chance I feel like at a second. I can’t imagine the names of the list I would be on with those others. Still blows my mind. I’m pretty jacked up about it. Hopefully we can get it done.”
Kyle Busch captured his first Championship in 2015 after missing the first 11-races due to a broken right leg and a fractured left foot.
“Obviously with 2015 and being able to come out as a champion that was the greatest achievement,” said Busch. “You set your goal out for the beginning of the year and everybody’s goal there is to always just get to Homestead, and if we’re eligible for Homestead, then we can go after that championship. So I always look at it though as we want to be able to go out and win the championship. So for us to be eligible five years in a row I think is a pretty cool thing, but to come out with one of four is not so cool.”
Harvick is five years removed from his first Championship in 2014 and, like Busch, has qualified five times.
“It’s hard to get here,” said Harvick. “I know that we have been able to do that five times now, but the Playoffs are difficult now. It’s difficult to go through all those eliminations and different racetracks and have everything work out. So you just, this will be the fifth time here and we have only won once and so it’s definitely something that we would love to do again. This is what we race for.”
Joe Gibbs has a 75% chance of tasting the champagne in victory lane and his former driver, Tony Stewart, has a 25% of being the winning car owner.
“The thing that I love about our sport which is totally different than any other sport really, you’ve got four teams that have to work together in order to get here,” said Gibbs. “But once you’re here, this is each one of those guys, this is their chance to win a championship for their sponsor and everybody that’s following them. And so each one of our guys are geared up. They want to win this, each one of them for a different reason. Denny has never won one, and so it’s a big deal for us.”
“It’s what the goal of every organization is at the beginning of the year is to go out and win races, win big races and contend for a championship and try to win a championship at the end of the season,” said Stewart. “To get one in, I mean, that’s definitely our goal. Our goal is obviously to be in the scenario Joe is in and have multiple cars in, but it is, it’s tough.”
The green flag for the Ford EcoBoost 400 drops on Sunday at 3 p.m. The race will be televised by NBC starting at 2 p.m. and can be heard on the radio on Motor Racing Network affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series crowns their Champion on Saturday. JR Motorsports Justin Allgaier, Gibbs Christopher Bell, Stewart Haas Cole Custer and Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick are in the Championship 4.
Reddick is the defending series champion and is looking to become just the seventh driver all-time to win back-to-back titles. Allgaier, Custer and Bell are attempting to win their first Xfinity Series titles.
The Ford EcoBoost 300 takes place Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by NBCSN and can be heard on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series is racing Friday night. Niece Motorsports Ross Chastain, ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen and GMS Racing’s Brett Moffitt are battling for the title.
Crafton is a two-time series Champion (2013 & 2014) and Moffitt is the defending series Champion. Chastain and Friesen are going for their first titles.
The green flag for the Ford EcoBoost 200 drops Friday night at 8 p.m. The race will be televised by FS1 and can be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Chase Elliott Wins NASCAR Cup Series Championship
AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott knew he wanted to be a race car driver when he was growing up and on Sunday he followed in his Hall of Fame father Bill’s footsteps by winning the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Elliott passed Joey Logano for the lead on lap 270 and powered to victory in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I’m not sure I could have sat down and drawn it up any better, you know?,” said Elliott. “So for me, it’s unbelievable. It’s something that I’m not sure — well, I know I haven’t let it sink in yet.”
Elliott, 24, started racing go-karts as a kid and slowly moved up the short track ranks when NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick signed him to a driver development deal at the age of 14.
“Just so grateful for the opportunities and the things I’ve had over the years, great people,” said Elliott. “My mom (Cindy) and dad (Bill) and their support obviously has been from the beginning. Mr. Hendrick came in and really changed my life when he wanted to help. Not to sound like a NASCAR driver, but NAPA Auto Parts, too, coming in when they did. 2014 wouldn’t have happened without them and the championship that came that season. And man, they’ve been a champion partner for years. Now they have a championship to go with it.”
Elliott and his father Bill are just the third father-son duo to win NASCAR Championships, joining Lee and Richard Petty and Ned and Dale Jarrett.
“You know, heck, this is as big as it gets,” said Elliott. “I mean, my goodness. I mean, a champion in the Cup Series? Are you kidding me? It’s nuts. It’s absolutely nuts.”
Elliott’s championship came on the same day that 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson ran his last race, signaling a changing of the guard at Hendrick Motorsports.
“Certainly appreciate his support,” said Elliott. “He’s been a great support system this week. I’ve talked to him multiple times. He’s reached out on a couple occasions, which is very cool. Very thankful. He’s a hero of mine. I think he’ll go down as the greatest to ever do this.”
Austin Cindric Wins Race And NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship
AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Cindric passed Justin Allgaier on the final lap of NASCAR overtime to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Desert Dimond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway and capture the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
The victory was Cindric’s sixth of the season and his first in six starts at the one-mile Arizona speedway and his 100th NASCAR Xfinity Series start.
“This was an amazing effort by Brian Wilson and everybody back at the shop,” said Cindric. “There was a lot of work put into this Ford Mustang. I’ve got to thank Roger Penske and everyone from Team Penske plus the Menards family who put so much support into racing itself. It’s awesome to get them a championship in NASCAR, to be a champion in NASCAR, and do it in front of all these great people cheering us on at championship weekend. Thanks to Ford Performance, Doug Yates, and everybody at Roush Yates Engines. I’m speechless. I’m pretty humbled by the effort for sure.”
Allgaier took the final green flag from the outside of the front row with Cindric behind him and Ross Chastain on the inside. Allgaier’s teammate Noah Gragson was inside of Cindric. Allgaier cleared Chastain with Cindric in tow coming off turn four. Gragson was on the inside of Cindric and could have helped his teammate but elected to dive low heading into turn one. That gave Cindric room to get around Allgaier, who was helpless to hold him off.
“I’m disappointed; this racetrack for me lost a lot when we put PJ1 down, and I felt like if we had been able to run the bottom like normal and not run stuck in that high groove, I felt like we definitely would have had the best car,” said Allgaier. “So I’m disappointed in that, but at the end of the race today we were on old tires. I knew it was going to be sketchy at best. To be honest with you, to finish the race, it actually really surprises me that we were that close. Austin got that pass and ran through the middle of 3 and 4, and my teammate did a great job of trying to pull up and obviously race for the win. That’s what he needed to do. He needed to end the season strong. But I thought if he could have just got up a little bit in front of the 22 and been able to block that run, we may have had a little bit more of a shot, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Gragson finished second followed by Brandon Jones. Michael Annett finished fourth followed by Allgaier.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Championship Preview
AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR’s Championship 4 Weekend gets started Friday night with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title fight.
Four drivers (Sheldon Creed, Grant Enfinger, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith) are eligible for the Championship in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway.
Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet):
- Creed is tied for the series lead with 4-wins this season. Creed also has 8 top-five and 12 top-ten finishes. Creed also has a series-high 11 stage wins. Creed locked himself into the Championship 4 with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway two weekends ago. Creed has two NGOTS starts at Phoenix with a tenth place finish in 2018 and a 12th place finish in 2019 where he led 16-laps.
Grant Enfinger (No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford):
- Enfinger is tied with Creed for the series lead with 4-wins in 2020. Enfinger also posted 8 top-five and 13 top-ten finishes this season to go along with a stage win. Enfinger locked himself into the Championship 4 with a win last week at Martinsville Speedway. In three NGOTS starts at Phoenix Raceway, Enfinger has two top-five finishes (4th 2018; 5th 2019) and has led 10-laps (2018).
Brett Moffitt (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet):
- Moffitt has one win in 2020 (Kansas Speedway). Moffitt has also posted 10 top-fives, and 15 top-tens, 2nd best in each category for the series. Moffitt is looking to become just the fifth driver in series history to win multiple NGOTS championships, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996, 1998, 2007, 2009), Matt Crafton (2013, 2014, 2019), Jack Sprague (1997, 1999, 2001) and Todd Bodine (2006, 2010). Moffitt has two series starts at Phoenix posting a win in 2018 en route to his championship and a 10th place finish in 2019.
Zane Smith (No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet):
- Smith is looking to become just the second rookie to win the championship joining Erik Jones, who accomplished that feat in 2015. Smith captured two wins, 6 top-fives and 12 top-tens in 2020. Smith will be making his NGOTS debut this weekend at Phoenix.
The race starts at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. Television coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1. The race can be heard on Motor Racing Network affiliates and on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.