Bump and Run: Should NASCAR have a race with double points?

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Would it make sense for NASCAR to run a double points race as IndyCar does? How about making NASCAR’s regular season finale — which is at Daytona next year — a double points race to give more teams a final chance to make the playoffs?

Dustin Long: I’m not a fan of this when teams had 25 races to put themselves in a playoff position before the regular season finale. With the regular season finale at Daytona, I don’t think the sport needs any more gimmicks for that race.

Daniel McFadin: In the “win and you’re in” era of NASCAR, I think this would only work if more than one position paid extra points in this scenario. If this applied to the top five positions that might make for a thrilling conclusion to a race at Daytona.

Jerry Bonkowski: Instead of Daytona, I’d like to see double points available in the championship race at Phoenix next year. However, that would require NASCAR to change the playoff format and make points count in the final race, which currently is not the case. The race winner or the highest-finishing driver of the final four contenders is crowned champion. If NASCAR would change the final round format and NOT reset the points entering that race —as well as make it a six- or eight-driver field — I believe it would heighten interest to NASCAR fans who, right now, may not be interested in the season finale if their driver isn’t one of the four finalists. If there are six or eight drivers vying for points to win the championship in the final race, it would only enhance the experience for fans and drivers. We have seen what double points have done to heighten interest in the IndyCar finale. Why not do it for NASCAR?

Which four will fail to advance to the next round of the Cup playoffs this weekend?

Dustin Long: Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman

Daniel McFadin: Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, William Byron and Aric Almirola

Jerry Bonkowski: Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, William Byron and Aric Almirola are eliminated after Charlotte. I expect Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer – even though they’re both currently below the cut line, but are very good road course racers – to rally at Charlotte, have strong finishes and advance to the second round.

Will Martin Truex Jr. sweep the first round of the playoffs?

Dustin Long: I’ll take the field. Truex’s two-race winning streak ends this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: Truex and Cole Pearn have unfinished business with the Roval, so I don’t think they’ll be taking a breather with his race. I would not be surprised to the see them complete the hat trick.

Jerry Bonkowski: If Jimmie Johnson doesn’t take him out on the last turn of the race again, yes. That’s obviously a joke, folks. But seriously, Truex is so hot right now that I could easily see him win at Charlotte and continue that streak through his home track at Dover next week. Truex is on a role and will fight for every extra stage and playoff point he can get. Even if he doesn’t win at Charlotte, you know he’ll go for the jugular at Dover to get a win out of the way early and quickly advance to the Round of 8. He’s in the driver’s seat right now.

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

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The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll ever get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Should be a force to be reckoned with when he moves to Cup next season. Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status and handled the championship race pressure perfectly. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but fell short when it counted: to make it to the championship round and try to defend last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his prior Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. NBC Sports has asked the team if it will appeal the suspension.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.