Bump & Run: Should NASCAR have penalized Denny Hamlin at Martinsville?

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Should NASCAR have penalized Denny Hamlin for wrecking Chase Elliott at Martinsville?

Steve Letarte: Absolutely not. NASCAR has been clear in every conversation I’ve ever had with them that they’ll get involved in a case like Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano when one car is multiple laps down and it’s true retaliation. When it comes to two cars running for position, whether it was on purpose or not on purpose is between the drivers. I don’t think we want the sanctioning body becoming referees. They are the officials, and they have to run the race and make sure everybody runs the race according to the rules, but as far as rough driving or not rough driving when it comes for a position on the race track, I don’t think that’s the sanction body’s position to get involved.

Nate Ryan: No. NASCAR shouldn’t penalize a driver for trying to win a race, particularly when a championship berth is on the line.

Dustin Long: Why start now? NASCAR has made it abundantly clear that if two cars are racing for the lead they’re not likely to get involved. NASCAR Chairman Brian France says this is a contact sport. So NASCAR is going to let there be contact.

What are the chances Chase Elliott makes it to the championship round in Miami?

Steve Letarte: Without a doubt, it’s going to be an uphill battle. I think when you look at Chase’s numbers throughout the playoffs, they’ve been outstanding. While Martinsville was chaotic, I think Texas will be chaotic as well. No telling what can happen at Phoenix..

Nate Ryan: He has to win at Texas or Phoenix. He still has a shot at doing the former.

Dustin Long: With Kyle Busch locked in and Martin Truex Jr. penciled in with his big points advantage, it likely leaves two spots. The question is can Chase Elliott win one of the next two races to earn a spot in Miami? I still need to be convinced about this team.

Should Joey Logano have pitted when he had a tire rub to ensure there was no caution since his teammate, Brad Keselowski, was leading in the final laps and close to earning a spot in the championship round?

Steve Letarte: I don’t think this falls on Joey Logano at all. The real question is should his crew chief, Todd Gordon, have called him into the pits unless it’s a safety situation, which then of course the driver should make the decision. Obviously, Joey Logano felt like it was safe to continue. Then it’s purely on Todd Gordon to pull him into the pits if looking at the bigger picture. To be honest, I think that’s a conversation these bigger companies need to have. It’s easy to throw stones at Todd Gordon now. Todd Gordon is hired to present the best case for the No. 22 car. He obviously felt that was to stay on the race track. Numbers would say it’s stay on the race track. Even if you spin out at Martinsville, normally you don’t make severe contact. It’s easy to say now that he absolutely should have pitted. Perhaps that’s a conversation that should have happened before now. What if a guy has an engine down a cylinder and your other car is leading? Should you just park that car so it doesn’t blow up and bring a yellow? I think that conversation is worth having at all the big teams.

Nate Ryan: Ultimately, the decision should rest with the team and driver on whether it’s worth the risk to continue (though NASCAR also could intervene). But given the playoff implications in this instance, Logano probably should have pitted and ensured his teammate gained passage to Miami.

Dustin Long: Yes. Someone in upper management should have made the call for Logano to pit. Both Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe said after their Talladega win that Martinsville was a must-win situation for them based on how the other tracks likely would play out in this round. Joey Logano’s team might cost Keselowski and his team a chance at the championship and that is inexcusable.

Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

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Chase Briscoe earned his first Camping World Truck Series victory in Friday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And while finishing second is supposed to be the first loser, it wasn’t for Christopher Bell, whose runner-up showing clinched the 2017 Truck Series championship for him.

Click here for the full results from Friday’s race.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

 

Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

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Christopher Bell won the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200, with all four Championship 4 drivers finishing within four points of each other.

Bell finished with 4,035 points, 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter finished second in the standings with 4,034 points, rookie Austin Cindric finished third (4,032) and two-time series champ Matt Crafton finished fourth (4,031).

Click here for the final 2017 season driver standings.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

Christopher Bell wins Truck title, Chase Briscoe earns first career series win

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The first champion of the NASCAR Championship Weekend was crowned Friday night as Christopher Bell earned his first Camping World Truck Series title.

Chase Briscoe won the race, the Ford EcoBoost 200, leading a race-high 77 laps in the 134-lap event, while Bell captured the championship by finishing second.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bell told FS1. “These trucks are so good and they pay so much attention to all the detail that goes into these things, and that’s what makes these Tundras so fast. I’m just speechless.”

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

Bell, an Oklahoma native who turns 23 on Dec. 16, has already been announced to drive next season in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He ends the 2017 Truck campaign with five wins and 21 top-10s in 23 Truck races.

“To be see Christopher be able to mature and grow … it just goes to show these guys develop and we do a good job of developing these guys,” team owner Kyle Busch told FS1. “Erik Jones won our first driver’s championship and now with Christopher Bell bringing home our second, it just continues to solidify our legacy.”

Briscoe, who also turns 23 one day before his good friend Bell, helped send Brad Keselowski Racing out on a high note. BKR is closing after this season.

“This is a long time coming,” Briscoe told FS1. “I’m so proud of these guys to know they’re not going to have job next year, yet they continue to bring real good trucks even though we were outside of the playoffs. … For those guys to continue to believe in me, I’m so blessed and thankful.”

Briscoe was also named Truck Series Rookie of the Year.

Team owner Brad Keselowski, who will be vying for the NASCAR Cup championship on Sunday, told FS1 about Briscoe: “He has a big, bright future ahead of him and along with (BKR teammate) Austin Cindric and I’m just happy to play a role and help him out.”

The other Championship 4 contestants that came up short were 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter (finished third), Austin Cindric (fifth) and Matt Crafton (sixth).

STAGE WINNERS: Stage 1 (Christopher Bell), Stage 2 (Ben Rhodes)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Cindric showed a lot of mettle while running near the front much of the race. Not bad for a 19-year-old rookie. … Bell did exactly what he needed to do to win the title: finish ahead of his other three challengers.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Noah Gragson had a rough night, finishing 18th, three laps behind the leaders.

NOTABLE: Toyota earned its fifth consecutive Truck Manufacturers Championship, and 10th overall in the last 14 seasons. … With the exception of the two cautions between stages, there were no other cautions caused from on-track action.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This whole organization, this whole team has been so good for so many years, you just don’t want to be that guy to let them down – and I’m really glad I didn’t let them down tonight.” – 2017 Truck Series champ Christopher Bell (via FS1).

WHAT’S NEXT: The 2017 season has concluded. The next race is the 2018 NextEra Energy Resources 250, Friday February 16, Daytona International Speedway.

Starting lineup for Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Cup title race

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After making contact with both the outside wall and Chase Elliott last Sunday at Phoenix, Denny Hamlin failed to advance to Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But that didn’t stop Hamlin — who has two career wins at the South Florida 1.5-mile track — from earning his second career pole for Sunday’s race.

Martin Truex Jr. — who has six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in his seven overall victories this season — was the highest qualifying Championship 4, starting on the front row alongside Hamlin.

The other Championship 4 drivers qualified third (Kyle Busch), fifth (Brad Keselowski) and ninth (Kevin Harvick).

Click here for the starting lineup for Sunday’s race.