Bump & Run: Who completes Championship 4 field?

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Who will be the fourth driver to advance to the championship round in Cup?

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin. Phoenix has haunted him in the past as where his championship bids have gone south, but this time the 1-mile track will stoke a comeback for his team. He will earn major stage points in the first two segments, allowing him to put the pressure on Brad Keselowski with a strong finish. Or, he might just win outright there for the first time in five years.

Dustin Long: Brad Keselowski. He won’t lose his advantage on the others.

Jerry Bonkowski: Brad Keselowski punches his ticket to the Championship 4 round at Phoenix. The only real potential threat to Keselowski’s bid is if seven-time NASCAR Cup champ Jimmie Johnson reaches back in his bag of tricks to win in the Valley of the Sun. And knowing how Johnson has found ways to do the impossible numerous times in his career to date, don’t count him out. Keselowski sure won’t.

Daniel McFadin: I see Ryan Blaney finding a way to hop over Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin to be the second Ford driver in the championship round.

How significant was it that Martin Truex Jr. lost a race on a 1.5-mile track so close to Miami?

Nate Ryan: As Truex indicated in his postrace media session, it can be downplayed significantly. He got beat on the final run but was in the ballgame before that at a 1.5-mile track where the Toyotas weren’t that strong this season. He already is looking forward to Miami, where he had a strong test two weeks ago.

Dustin Long: If nothing else, it gives Kevin Harvick’s team confidence and anything positive this late in the season can be a good thing.

Jerry Bonkowski: Much ado about nothing. Sure, he didn’t win for a seventh time on a 1.5-miler this season at Texas, but is second place really a sign of a sudden turn of poor performance? Remember, Truex made a mistake with 10 laps left, allowing Kevin Harvick to pass for the win. Had it not been for Truex’s mistake, he potentially could have won Sunday.

Daniel McFadin: While it’s eyebrow raising that Truex lost, it’s not that big of a deal. Texas is one of the two 1.5-mile tracks he didn’t win at this year in either race there, along with Atlanta. He also didn’t win the Coke 600. Truex still has the most consistent speed, and I would take him in any head-to-head battle with the remaining playoff drivers after Kyle Larson was eliminated.

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Who has a better chance of winning either of the last two races: Matt Kenseth or Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Nate Ryan: This is tighter than it might seem. Either could win Phoenix – Kenseth probably should have won there last season, and Earnhardt’s No. 88 nearly did … and he won Phoenix in 2015. Kenseth is a better bet at Miami, but in all likelihood, it probably will be a championship-eligible driver who wins there.

Dustin Long: Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Phoenix. The champion – or Kyle Larson – likely will win in Miami.

Jerry Bonkowski: Had it not been for a dumb team mistake at Kansas, Kenseth could potentially still have a chance to reach Miami. But since that is no longer an option, what better way for Kenseth to close out his career than with a final win — especially since he hasn’t had a win yet in 2017. As for Junior, he may have a shot to win at Phoenix, given his past success there. But with his struggles this season, as much as I’d like to see him win one last time, I just don’t see it happening. But you have to admit: if he were to win at Miami, it would be one of the best storylines ever seen in NASCAR: one driver being crowned season champion and Earnhardt winning in his last career Cup race.

Daniel McFadin: Matt Kenseth. The No. 20 has been more competitive all year. But don’t sleep on Earnhardt. The No. 88 team has finished in the top five in two of the last four races at Phoenix, including Earnhardt’s 2015 win in a rain-shortened race. Alex Bowman finished sixth in this race last year after leading 194 laps, so the No. 88 team has a good grasp of what works there.

Watch: Championship 4 drivers share thoughts on Miami outcome

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After 200 laps Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron claimed the Xfinity Series championship in his rookie year by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He finished ahead of his JR Motorsports teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, and Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

Watch the above video for Byron’s first interview as a NASCAR champion.

Below are interviews with the remaining Championship 4 drivers.

Elliott Sadler

Sadler placed eighth in the race after contact with Ryan Preece with less than 10 laps to go cut a tire on his No. 1 Chevrolet. It Sadler’s fourth runner-up result in the points in his Xfinity career.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier finished 12th in the race after struggling for most 300-mile event. He was competing without his primary crew chief, who had been suspended for the race. Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief in the Cup Series with Jimmie Johnson, helped out on the pit box for the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric

Hemric finished last among the Championship 4 drivers in 34th after his No. 21 Chevrolet experienced battery problems early in Stage 2. Hemric spent 12 laps on pit road before returning to the race.

JR Motorsports sweeps top three in final Xfinity Series standings

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William Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 to give JR Motorsports its second Xfinity title.

The team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., swept the top-three spots in the final standings with Elliott Sadler placing second and Justin Allgaier in third.

Daniel Hemric placed fourth after finishing last among the Championship 4 drivers in the race.

Race-winner Cole Custer ends the season in fifth.

Click here for the points results.

Results, stats for Xfinity season finale at Miami

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Cole Custer led 182 laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s his first Xfinity win and the first series win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Custer swept all three stages of the race and beat Sam Hornish Jr., William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Preece.

Byron clinched the Xfinity title with his third-place finish.

Click here for results.

Cole Custer wins first Xfinity race; William Byron claims series championship


Cole Custer dominated to win Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, earning his first Xfinity Series victory, as William Byron finished third to clinch his first Xfinity championship.

Byron, 19, clinched the championship and the Rookie of the Year award by finishing ahead of teammates Elliott Sadler (eighth) and Justin Allgaier (12th).

Byron passed Sadler for good with six laps to go after the drivers battled closely for the top spot among the Championship 4 contenders for much of the last 50 laps.

“I don’t think I breathed for the last 20 laps, that was incredible,” Byron told NBCSN. “(Sadler) raced me clean. We raced hard for it. I can’t believe this. I just got to thank God for giving me this platform to perform. I can’t believe this. I’m tired.”

Sadler’s chances of getting back by his teammate were ruined when he made contact with the left rear of Ryan Preece soon after he had been passed by Byron. The contact got Preece sideways and caused Sadler to get into the wall.

Damage from the impact cut a tire on Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet. After the race, Sadler got into a confrontation with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver on pit road. Sadler finished runner-up in the championship standings for the fourth time in his career.

Byron’s title is the first championship for JR Motorsports since Chase Elliott‘s in 2014.

Daniel Hemric‘s chances at a title disappeared on Lap 61 when he visited pit road for a battery problem. The Richard Childress Racing driver returned to the track 12 laps later. Until he was passed by Byron on Lap 54, he was the highest running championship driver. Hemric finished 34th.

Custer’s victory comes in his 38th series start. The win is also the first Xfinity victory for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The 19-year-old driver led 182 of the 200 laps, a series-high at the track.

“I haven’t done that in a while,” Custer told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “We definitely had something to prove this weekend. We were so close to making (the Championship 4) last weekend. … Our Haas Automation Ford was unreal. We really wanted to have a good showing on Ford Championship weekend, even though we weren’t in it.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Sam Hornish Jr. finished second for his third top five in six starts this season … Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick finished fourth in his last start with Chip Ganassi Racing … Ryan Preece finished fifth in his fourth start of the year. He placed in the top five in all four races … Ty Majeski finished 10th in his third start of the year for Roush Fenway Racing. It’s his first top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: A day after winning the Truck Series title, Christopher Bell finished 36th after losing his engine on Lap 78 … Ryan Reed finished 20th after being issued a penalty on the initial start of the race.

NOTABLE: Sam Hornish Jr.’s runner-up finish helped Team Penske clinch the owner’s championship … William Byron finished his rookie season tied with Erik Jones (2016) for the second most wins by a rookie with four.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “To be honest with you, if there’s a person you don’t want to cost a championship to it’s Elliott Sadler.” – Ryan Preece