NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500
Phoenix International Raceway Distance: 312 miles (312 laps)
Sunday, Nov. 15 2:30 p.m. (ET) TV: NBC, 2 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90
NASCAR XFINITY Series DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans
Phoenix International Raceway Distance: 200 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, Nov. 14 4 p.m. (ET) TV: NBCSN, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150
Phoenix International Raceway Distance: 150 miles (150 laps)
Friday, Nov. 13 8:30 p.m. (ET) TV: FS1, 8 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Car 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick will go for his 5th straight win at the one-mile track in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). With a visit to Victory Lane on Sunday, Harvick would join NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (Richmond, 7) and Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, 7; North Wilkesboro, 5) as the only drivers to win at least five consecutive races at a single track.
In 3rd place on the Chase Grid, 10 points above the cutoff line, Harvick is trying to advance to the four-driver Championship Round race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to defend his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Regardless of how the rest of the field performs at Phoenix, Harvick can clinch a Championship Round berth with a finish of second or better; third and at least one lap led; or fourth and the most laps led.
Harvick owns a track-record seven wins at Phoenix. He has the second-best average finish (11.0), driver rating (108.3), average running position (9.4) and average green flag speed (126.523 mph) at the Arizona oval.
Car 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson Plays Spoiler At Texas & approaches Earnhardt On All-Time Wins List
Jimmie Johnson passed Brad Keselowski with four laps remaining in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 to win his third consecutive race at Texas Motor Speedway and block an automatic qualifying berth in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup from one of the Eliminator 8 drivers. The win was the 5th of the season for Johnson and the 75th of his career. He now trails NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt by just one win for 7th on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.
Johnson will attempt to play spoiler again this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway where he owns four wins, 14 Top 5 & 18 Top 10s in 24 starts.
The No. 48 Chevrolet driver is not the only one who can ruin a Chase-eligible driver’s day in Arizona. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2 wins), Denny Hamlin (1), Kasey Kahne (1), Ryan Newman (1) and Tony Stewart (1) are all non-Chase drivers who have won at Phoenix.
Championship Round Clinch Scenarios
Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway marks the final race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Eliminator Round. At the conclusion of the event, the four Chase drivers who are winless in the Eliminator Round and have the least amount of points will be dropped from the Chase. The remaining four drivers will make the Championship Round race held on Sunday, Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the highest Chase-eligible finisher will take home the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Car 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon is the only driver who has clinched a Championship Round spot so far. Jeff Gordon, a two-time Phoenix winner who has already advanced to the Championship Round via his victory at Martinsville, can also block a transfer spot by taking the checkered flag on Sunday.
Car 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Crispy Toyota
Kyle Busch will clinch with a finish of third or better; fourth and at least one lap led; or fifth and most laps led.
Car 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet
Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano only control their own destiny with a victory. Logano can ONLY make it to the Championship Round with a win at Phoenix.
Car 2 Brad Keselowski Wurth Ford
Brad Keselowski could not have raced any better in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway without winning it. He posted the highest possible driver rating (145.0) a competitor can earn without winning a race. The only other time it’s happened since 2005 was when Kyle Busch achieved the feat when he finished second at Bristol on Aug. 23, 2008.
Keselowski led 312-of-334 laps at Texas, but could not hold on, finishing runner-up to Jimmie Johnson, who passed him with four laps remaining. A win would’ve earned Keselowski an automatic berth in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but instead he sits in 6th on the Chase Grid, 19 points below Martin Truex Jr. on the cutoff line.
The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion gets one more shot at reaching the Championship Round in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. In 12 starts at the Arizona oval, Keselowski has 4 Top5 & 6 Top 10 finishes with one Coors Light Pole Award (March 2, 2014). He has placed 6th or better in 6 of the last seven races held at Phoenix with a high finish of third (March 2, 2014).
Car 22 Joey Logano AAA Insurance Ford
In 13 starts at the one-mile track, Logano claims 2 Top 5 & 7 Top 10s, including four top 10s in the last four races there.
Despite racking up top 10s at Phoenix, he has never won there. That likely isn’t a concern to Logano, who has visited Victory Lane at four tracks this year where he had never won before: Daytona, Watkins Glen, Charlotte and Talladega.
Car 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet
Keeping his dream season alive heading into the penultimate race of 2015 at Phoenix, Martin Truex Jr. currently sits in the final Championship Round qualifying position on the Chase Grid, seven points above the cutoff line.
In 19 starts at Phoenix, Truex claims one Top 5 & 7 Top 10s. He finished 7th at the one-mile track in March.
Historically, Truex ranks lowest among The Eliminator 8 at Phoenix in average finish (17.1) and driver rating (80.1), but this is a new year where the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver has set career highs in top fives (8) and top 10s (22).
If Truex can make it out of Phoenix and into the Championship Round, he is one of the best Chase-eligible drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway where he has three top fives, seven top 10s and 108 laps led in 10 starts. Among The Eliminator 8 at Homestead, Truex boasts the second-highest driver rating (106.6) and third-best average finish (10.0). His track history combined with the speed he’s found this season would give him as good of a shot at the championship as anyone.
Car 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet
Prior to the Eliminator Round, Kyle Busch adamantly stated the only drivers who have the chance to win at Phoenix were Kevin Harvick and his brother Kurt Busch.
Currently 7th on the Chase Grid, 28 points below Martin Truex Jr. on the cutoff line, Kurt Busch essentially can only advance to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning Sunday’s race at Phoenix where he finished fifth earlier this season.
In 25 starts at the Arizona oval, Busch has one win (April 23, 2005), 6 Top 5 & 14 Top 10s. His overall body of work at Phoenix is strong, but he has finished worse than 20th there 3 times in eight starts since the 2011 repave.
Busch is enjoying his best season since 2009 when he finished fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. His 2 wins & 19 Top 10s this year are his most since 2009 when he notched two wins along with 21 Top 10s.
Car 19 Carl Edwards Sport Clips Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing may not have been able to achieve its goal of putting all four of its drivers in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but it has a good chance at getting two in. Heading into Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Kyle Busch (11 points above the cutoff line) ranks second on the Chase Grid, while Carl Edwards (7 points below the cutoff line sits in sixth).
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
2 Races remain until the NASCAR XFINITY Series champion is crowned for the 2015 season.
Car 60 Chris Buescher AdvoCare Ford
Chris Buescher can clinch the title this weekend if he leaves Phoenix 49 points ahead of second-place in the standings. Buescher is currently 24 points up on second-place Chase Elliott.
If he doesn’t reach the magic number of 49 points ahead following Phoenix, he can still win the title no matter what any other driver does if he finishes seventh or better without leading a lap, eighth or better leading at least one lap or ninth or better leading the most laps in the final two races.
“We just need two more solid races to wrap this thing up,” Buescher said. “Phoenix is a unique race track that I really want to have a good race at. I like short track racing and feel that this will be a good weekend for us.”
Buescher has made 31 starts this season, posting two wins (Iowa, Dover), 11 top fives, 20 top 10s and an average finish of 8.2.
The three drivers who have not been mathematically eliminated from the title hunt in 2015 are second-place Chase Elliott (-24), third-place Ty Dillon (-30) and fourth-place Regan Smith (-31).
Car 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
If Elliott were to have his best two performances at Phoenix and Homestead by winning both events and leading the most laps he would total out at 1,198 points on the season. To win the title, Elliott would still need Buescher to falter and finish eighth or worse in both of the final two races.
Elliott has made three starts at Phoenix posting one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.0.
Car 3 Ty Dillon Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
If Dillon were to have the best case scenario for him at Phoenix and Homestead by winning both events and leading the most laps, he would total out at 1,192 points on the season. To win the title, Dillon would still need Buescher to struggle and finish 12th or worse in both of the final two races to catch him.
Dillon has made three starts at Phoenix posting one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 6.7.
Car 7 Regan Smith Suave Men Chevrolet
If Smith were to win both Phoenix and Homestead, while leading the most laps in each, his season point total would be 1,192 points. Smith would still need Buescher to finish 13th or worse in the next two races to win the title.
Smith has made nine starts at Phoenix, tallying one top five, five top 10s and an average finish of 14.4.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Truck 4 Erik Jones # Toyota Toyota
Erik Jones put on a dazzling performance at Texas Motor Speedway where counterpart Matt Crafton normally dominates, leading 117 of 147 laps to win last Friday’s WinStar World Casino 350. Jones’ victory marked his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Texas and his third checkered flag of the season. He also posted a near-perfect 149.5 driver rating.
Jones became only the third driver to win a NCWTS and NASCAR XFINITY Series (April 2015) race at TMS, joining his No. 4 truck owner Kyle Busch and 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.
With only two races left in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Erik Jones leads second-place Matt Crafton by 17 points and third-place Tyler Reddick by 21 points in the championship standings.
Truck 88 Matt Crafton Damp Rid/Menards Toyota
Crafton finished second to Jones at Phoenix last year and owns five top fives and 10 top 10s in 14 starts at the Arizona oval. His five wins this season are the most in the NCWTS.
Truck 19 Tyler Reddick Stoney Creek Records Ford
Reddick placed 10th at Phoenix in his only start there, last season. He enters the race with a streak of three consecutive fifth-place finishes.
Truck 13 Cameron Hayley # The Carolina Nut Co. Toyota
Cameron tops the speed charts during Thursday’s P1 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice at Phoenix International Raceway!
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
If the top-finishing Toyota finishes 14th or better in Friday’s race at Phoenix, Toyota will capture its eighth Manufacturers’ Championship, tying Chevrolet for the most in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history. The Manufacturers’ Championship would also be Toyota’s third consecutive title.
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR