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William Byron wins Phoenix playoff race, clinches spot in Xfinity title race with Allgaier, Sadler and Hemric

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William Byron led the final 13 laps to win the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix Raceway and cement a spot in the Xfinity Series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On just two fresh tires, Byron fended off Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones to score his fourth win of the year and his first since July at Indianapolis. Blaney was on four fresh tires while Jones was on two.

The top five was Byron, Blaney, Jones, Christopher Bell and Daniel Hemric.

Byron and Hemric, both rookies, will join Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler in the championship race. Byron, Allgaier and Sadler all drive for JR Motorsports.

With Richard Childress Racing’s Hemric in the championship race, all four title contenders will be Chevrolet teams.

Byron scored the win with a patched together pit crew. Twenty-two of JR Motorsports’ 24 regular pit crew members did not take part in the race after a plane they were traveling on to Phoenix made an emergency landing in Arkansas due to an electrical problem.

“We grinded all day, great job by this team,” Byron told NBCSN. “To make that pit call (for two tires) by (crew chief) Dave (Elenz) is awesome. This one got robbed from me last year at Phoenix. Got it back and just can’t thank these guys enough for that. Awesome job.”

Elenz said that the two-tire strategy was necessary as the team had trouble lifting the left side of Byron’s car to change tires.

Last year as a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series, Byron was 10 laps from winning at Phoenix when his engine blew. Byron didn’t finish and failed to advance to the championship race.

Hemric clinched his spot in the playoffs after a battle with playoff driver and fellow rookie Cole Custer that ended with Hemric, who only had two new tires, pulling ahead of Custer and his four fresh tires as they exited Turn 4 to take the checkered flag.

MORE: Justin Allgaier fails post-race inspection, expected to be without crew chief at Homestead

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

MORE: Points standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Blaney led 147 laps before losing the lead on the final pit stop of the race … Blake Koch finished sixth for his fifth top 10 of the season and his best finish of the year. … Alex Bowman finished eighth in his second and final Xfinity start of the year for Chip Ganassi Racing.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Brennan Poole was eliminated from title contention after a crash on Lap 23 when he made contact with the lapped car of Caesar Bacarella in Turn 1. A cut tire sent his No. 48 Chevy into the wall. He finished 38th. … Brendan Gaughan finished 32nd after he crashed with 20 to go. Gaughan also caused a Lap 1 caution when he spun in Turn 3 with Corey LaJoie.

NOTABLE: William Byron is the only Xfinity regular to win in the playoffs … Daniel Hemric advances to the championship race after having his crew chief Danny Stockman Jr, his car chief and an engineer suspended for the past four races for an infraction at Dover. Richard Childress told NBC Sports he will keep interim crew chief Randall Burnett and the other two replacements in their roles in the title race.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That’s what the playoffs are all about. So intense, man. I’m so proud of all these guys. Awesome pit stops all day. It kept us with a little faith in our souls the rest of the race.” – Daniel Hemric after clinching his spot in the championship race.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series ends the season Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Erik Jones wins pole for Xfinity playoff race at Phoenix

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Erik Jones will start from the pole in the Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Jones won his 15th career pole with a speed of 133.929 mph around the 1-mile track. It is his third pole of the year.

The starting top five is Jones, William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt Tifft and Alex Bowman.

Byron, Custer and Tifft are among the eight remaining playoff drivers.

Where the rest of the playoff drivers will start:

7th – Daniel Hemric

10th – Justin Allgaier

13th – Elliott Sadler

14th – Brennan Poole

20th – Ryan Reed

Click here for qualifying results.

William Byron is fastest in final Xfinity practice at Phoenix

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William Byron was fastest in Friday afternoon’s second and final NASCAR Xfinity Series practice session at Phoenix Raceway.

Byron covered the 1-mile oval at 131.661 mph, followed by fellow Xfinity playoff contender Justin Allgaier (131.085 mph).

Christopher Bell (130.961) was third, followed by Alex Bowman (130.914) and Erik Jones (130.881).

Other Xfinity playoff contenders and where they finished in practice were: Cole Custer (7th, 130.776 mph), Daniel Hemric (9th, 130.558), points leader Elliott Sadler (10th, 130.553), Brennan Poole (11th, 130.425), Matt Tifft (14th, 130.213) and Ryan Reed (21st, 129.464).

Click here for the full practice speed chart.

Here’s your primer for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 Cup elimination race at Phoenix

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The penultimate race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup playoffs takes place this Sunday with the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

This is the final elimination race of the playoffs, with five drivers still eligible for the one remaining position to advance to next week’s season-ending and championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Or, as NBCSN’s Kyle Petty so succinctly put it, “party of five, table of one.”

Thanks to Racing Insights, here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s race and racetrack:

NASCAR Cup 2017 Season Breakdown

  • Different Winners: 14
  • Most Wins: 7- Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Poles: 8- Kyle Busch
  • Most Runner Ups: 8 – Kyle Larson
  • Most Top-fives: 17 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Top-10s: 24 – Marin Truex Jr.
  • Most Laps Led: 2175– Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Wins: 19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-5s: 46 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-10s: 53 – Kyle Larson
  • Playoff Points: 69 – Martin Truex Jr.

Phoenix recent race history:

  • The last seven Phoenix races had seven different pole winners, Alex Bowman got his first career MENCS pole driving the No. 88 in November 2016.
  • Ryan Newman won at Phoenix in March ending a 127 race winless streak and a 112 race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.
  • Ryan Newman stayed out from seventh on the final lap 308 stop and kept the lead during the final two lap overtime finish, he went the final 56 laps on the same set of tires.
  • Ryan Newman led only six laps in his Phoenix win in March, all six came after lap 308. It was the second fewest laps led by a Phoenix winner, the fewest was four laps by Ryan Newman in April of 2010.
  • Chevrolet won seven of the last eight Phoenix races, Joey Logano’s win in a Ford in the fall of 2016 is the only non-Chevrolet win in the last eight Phoenix races.
  • Kevin Harvick has eight Phoenix wins the most of all drivers by four wins.
  • Kevin Harvick won six of the last 10 Phoenix races but failed to lead a single lap in the last two races.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only active drivers who have reached eight wins at a track, 
Johnson (11 wins Dover, 9 wins Martinsville, 8 wins Charlotte), Harvick (8 wins Phoenix).
  • 22 of the last 28 Phoenix races were won by drivers who currently compete for four organizations: Stewart-Haas Racing active drivers have 9 wins, Hendrick Motorsports active drivers have 8 wins, Joe Gibbs Racing active drivers have three wins and Richard Childress Racing active drivers have 2 wins. Five of those 28 races were won by drivers that no longer compete in the Cup series (Jeff Gordon 2 wins, Carl Edwards 2 wins and Mark Martin 1 win).
  • Neither stage winner finished in the top-10 in the March race at Phoenix.
  • Kyle Busch was passed for the win at Phoenix in March, it was the third straight race that a Joe Gibbs 
Racing driver was passed for the win at Phoenix and the second straight that a JGR driver was passed in 
the final eight laps there.
  • There have been zero DNFs for engine failure in the last six Phoenix races.
  • Six DNFs for accident in the race last March is tied for the most in the last nine Phoenix races.
  • 15 Lead changes in March at Phoenix, the most in the last seven races.
  • Kevin Harvick led the most laps in six of the last eight Phoenix races but failed to lead a single lap in the 
last two.
  • Kevin Harvick currently has an eight race streak of top-10 finishes at Phoenix, it is the third longest 
streak at the track and the longest active streak.
  • The last 14 Phoenix races were completed in less than 3 hours and nine minutes.
  • November 12th will be the 43rd race held at Phoenix Raceway.
  • Phoenix has hosted a Cup race every year since 1988 and two races a year every year since 2005.
  • Phoenix has been the penultimate race of the season since 2005.
  • Phoenix has hosted a race in every year of the playoffs and has been the final cut race before Miami in 
every season of the elimination style format.
  • 238 days between the Spring and Fall Phoenix races is the longest time between two events at one 
track in the same season.
  • 119 days between the November 2017 and March 2018 races at Phoenix.
  • Stage lengths at Phoenix: Lap 75 (75 laps), Lap 150 (75 laps), Lap 312 (162 laps).
  • Seven of the last 13 Phoenix winners started outside the top-10, Ryan Newman started 22nd in March.
  • There were seven or more cautions in 11 of the last 12 Phoenix races that were not rain shortened.
  • Eight Phoenix races had an overtime finish, including the last three.
  • The final green flag stretch was two laps or less in the last four races and 12 laps or less in the last seven r The driver leading the most laps failed to win in thee of the last four races at Phoenix.
  • Joey Logano, who won this race in 2016, is the only driver to win at Phoenix in the last 10 races who had 
not won there prior.

Phoenix Playoff Highlights:

  • 10 of 13 Phoenix playoff races were won by playoff eligible drivers.
  • 10 Phoenix playoff races were won by Chevrolet drivers.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads all organizations with five Phoenix Playoff race wins.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing has won twice at Phoenix but neither win came in the Playoffs.
  • 10 of 13 Phoenix race winners started inside the top-10, including 10 of the last 11.
  • Four Phoenix playoff races had an overtime finish, the race in 2016 went to 324 laps (12 over the 
scheduled 312).
  • Phoenix was the penultimate race in 12 of 13 years of the playoffs (since 2005).
  • Hendrick Motorsports (3 poles) and Joe Gibbs Racing (2 poles) have won the last five poles in Phoenix 
playoff races.
  • Kevin Harvick in 2014 and Joey Logano 2016 clinched a birth in the final four at Miami with a Phoenix playoff race win.

2017 NASCAR Cup Season Highlights:

  • Joe Gibbs Racing (7), Furniture Row (5) and Chip Ganassi Racing (2) won 14 of the last 17 races.
  • The pole winner won six times in 2017: Kyle Larson ACS, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Kyle Larson 
MIS-1, Kyle Busch POC-2, Kyle Busch NH-2, Martin Truex Jr. KS-2.
  • The final lead change came in the last 10 laps in 19 of 34 races in 2017, the final three laps in 13 races 
and on the last lap in four races.
  • Either Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch won a stage in 23 of 34 races in 2017.
  • Martin Truex Jr. has won at least one stage in 14 of 34 races in 2017 but has not won a stage in the last 
six races which is his longest stretch of races without a stage win in 2017.
  • Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver to win both Stage 1 & 2 and go on to win the race (Las Vegas, Kentucky).
  • Five drivers won a race but have not won a stage in 2017.
  • Four drivers have won a stage but have not won a race in 2017.
  • Atlanta, Pocono-1, Michigan-2 and Chicagoland are the only races without a caution before the end of Stage 1.
  • Atlanta, Michigan-2 and Chicagoland are the only races to not have a caution other than stage 
breaks in the first two stages of the race.
  • Three Cautions at Watkins Glen the fewest in a race in 2017.
  • 15 cautions at Kansas-1 and Dover-1 are the most in a race in 2017.
  • Three times a driver has won after going to the rear: Jimmie Johnson Texas-1 (unapproved tire 
change), Joey Logano Richmond-1 (transmission change), Jimmie Johnson Dover-1 (rear gear change).
  • Denny Hamlin won in New Hampshire-1 after going to a backup car prior to qualifying.
  • Three times in 2017 a driver has gone on to win after a speeding penalty: Kurt Busch Daytona-1, Brad 
Keselowski Martinsville-1 and Martin Truex Jr. Chicagoland.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas after a restart violation on lap 36, it was the fourth time in 2017 a driver has recovered from a in race infraction to win and the second time by Martin Truex Jr.
  • Three drivers got their first career win in 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Austin Dillon Charlotte- 1, Ryan Blaney Pocono-1, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the first first-time winner to get his second win in 2017.
  • There have been two track records set in 2017: Kyle Busch (Kentucky), Kurt Busch (Texas-2).
  • Eight times driver has swept all three rounds of qualifying: Kevin Harvick- IMS 2014, MIS 6/14 and TX 
4/17, DAR 2017; Joey Logano MART 4/16 10/17; Brad Keselowski TX 11/15; Kyle Busch CHI 2017.
  • Kurt Busch’s pole at Texas was the fastest ever on a 1.5 mile track at 200.915 mph.
  • Qualifying was cancelled twice in 2017: Martinsville-1, Bristol-1.
  • 11 races had an overtime finish in 2017: PHX-1, ACS, TAL-1, Dover-1, Daytona-2, KY, Indy, MIS-2, 
RICH-2, CLT-2, MART-2.
  • Four races were won with a last lap pass: Daytona-1 Kurt Busch passed Kyle Larson, Talladega-1 Ricky 
Stenhouse Jr. passed Kyle Busch, Talladega-2 Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman, Martinsville-2 
Kyle Busch passed Denny Hamlin.
  • Three races were affected by rain in 2017: Bristol-1 (postponed until Monday), Charlotte-1 (delayed 90 
minutes lap 145), Indianapolis (Delayed on Lap 12 for 2 hours).
  • Three drivers ended the longest winless streaks of their career in 2017: Ryan Newman 127 races, Kasey Kahne 102 races, Kyle Busch 36 races.

Phoenix Raceway Track History

  • The track was built in 1964 with the goal of becoming the western location of open wheel racing. The first race at PR was on the road course. AJ Foyt won the first oval track race in March 1964.
  • Richard Petty won the first NASCAR race, a 1978 Winston West Series event. Over the years the track has hosted most professional classes of racecars.
  • In 1985 Buddy Jobe purchased the then 10,000 seat track from Dennis Wood. Jobe soon initiated a massive improvement program with the goal of landing a NASCAR Cup race.
  • The first Cup race, held on November 6th, 1988, was won by Alan Kulwicki in his No. 7 ZEREX Ford Kulwicki celebrated by performing the first ever “Polish Victory Lap.”

Keep up with all the Silly Season changes for 2018 with this scorecard

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Aric Almirola became the latest driver to secure a ride for 2018 when Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that he’ll drive the No. 10 car.

Even with that announcement, more questions remain on which drivers will be in what rides next season.

Here’s a look at where Silly Season stands as Cup teams head to Phoenix Raceway for Sunday’s playoff race.

ANNOUNCED RIDES FOR 2018

— Aric Almirola will join Stewart-Haas Racing and drive the No. 10 car. (announcement made Nov. 8)

Darrell Wallace Jr. will join Richard Petty Motorsports and drive the No. 43 car. (announcement made Oct. 25)

Kasey Kahne will join Leavine Family Racing and drive the No. 95 car. (announcement made Sept. 19)

Ty Dillon signs a multi-year contract to remain at Germain Racing and drive the No. 13 car. Sponsor Geico also extends its deal with the team (announcement made Sept. 5)

Chris Buescher signs a multi-year contract to remain at JTG Daugherty and drive the No. 37 car. (announcement made Aug. 18)

Matt DiBenedetto will remain with Go Fas Racing in the team’s No. 32 car (announcement made Aug. 12)

William Byron will drive the No. 24 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Kasey Kahne (announcement made Aug. 9)

Paul Menard moves to Wood Brothers Racing to drive the No. 21 car (announcement made July 26)

Ryan Blaney moves to Team Penske to drive the No. 12 car and signs a multi-year contract extension (announcement made July 26)

Brad Keselowski agrees to contract extension to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske (announcement made July 25

Alex Bowman will drive the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. (announcement made July 20)

Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing Matt Kenseth (announcement made July 11)

OPEN RIDES

— No. 27: Richard Childress Racing states it will announce plans for a third Cup team at a later date with Paul Menard joining the Wood Brothers for next season. Key will be sponsorship money on what happens with that car.

— No. 34: Front Row Motorsports informed Landon Cassill on Oct. 9 that he would not be returning to the team next season. The team has not announced its driver lineup for next season. 

— No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing declined to pick up the option on Kurt Busch’s contract for next year on Aug. 1. Even so, the team tweeted that it expected Busch back with sponsor Monster Energy for next year. Busch said Nov. 3 that “we are in negotiations’’ to remain in the No. 41. Co-owner Tony Stewart said Nov. 5: “That’s our goal, is to have Kurt back in that car for next year.’’

AVAILABLE DRIVERS

Matt Kenseth: He said Nov. 4 on the NASCAR on NBC podcast that he has “decided to take some time off” after the 2018 season. Kenseth isn’t using the word retirement but says he has no ride for 2018.

Kurt Busch: With Stewart-Haas Racing declining to pick up his option for next year, Busch is a free agent. Even with Stewart-Haas Racing’s action, there’s still a good chance Busch signs a deal to remain with the organization.

Danica Patrick: She will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing after this season. Patrick has not announced any plans for next season. She’s not looking for a ride in the Xfinity Series. “Cup only,’’ she said.  

Michael McDowellWill not return to Leavine Family Racing with Kasey Kahne joining the team next season.

Landon CassillSearching for a ride after being informed he will not be back at Front Row Motorsports. He said Oct. 10 that he did not have sponsorship to bring with him at the time.

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