Bump & Run: Should Kyle Busch have let Aric Almirola by at Phoenix?

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Should Kyle Busch have allowed Aric Almriola to pass him for the lead late in Sunday’s race so that Almirola could have possibly won and bumped Kevin Harvick from the Championship 4 field?

Nate Ryan: This would be a much tougher question if there had been only a few laps remaining, but with 12 laps left, Almirola almost certainly wouldn’t have held on for the victory (as Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief, noted afterward). It still raises an intriguing ethical conundrum about the playoff structure, and it was telling that Busch said on the NBCSN postrace show that the thought had crossed his mind. That might have been surprisingly for a star who is as driven to win as anyone currently in NASCAR, but letting Almirola go might have been the smarter play with the restart had it occurred with two laps to go.

Dustin Long: I wouldn’t do it in any circumstance. Not because of ethics or anything like that, but who is to say you aren’t helping the driver that beats you the next week? Sure, Kyle Busch likely would be a favorite over Aric Almirola but Almirola would have the full backing of Stewart-Haas Racing for that race and that team has been strong. Trying to do something like that often backfires in ways one can’t see at the time. Just race.

Daniel McFadin: No. That’s not in Kyle Busch’s DNA and it would just lead to a week of people complaining about Busch not racing at 100 percent and who wants that?

Dan Beaver: Absolutely not. NASCAR has big enough issues with mid-week penalties and the perception outside the sport that cheating is endemic without adding manufactured finishes.

Which is more surprising: William Byron has led more laps this season than Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson is winless this season or Matt Kenseth scored his first top 10 of the season Sunday in his 14th start for Roush Fenway Racing.

Nate Ryan: Johnson’s disappointing season still surprises, and it’ll still seem just as unfathomable that the season finale will end Sunday with either Johnson or Denny Hamlin – and very likely both – winless during a full season for the first time in their Cup careers.

Dustin Long: All of them are shocking but will have to admit I didn’t see Kyle Larson going winless, especially with how close he came early in the year to winning. 

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Larson not having a win. It’s almost unfathomable that he’s finished in the top two six times this season and led 737 laps and not been to Victory Lane. 

Dan Beaver: Kyle Larson’s winless streak. He seemed so dominant on 2-mile tracks in 2017 and was improving across the board. He ran well in a number of races this year and should have been able to capitalize on a mistake by the Big 3 at some point during the year.

Toyota is the only manufacturer with drivers in each of the three championship races this week: Noah Gragson and Brett Moffitt in Trucks, Christopher Bell in Xfinity and Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in Cup. What odds do you give Toyota of sweeping all three driver titles?

Nate Ryan: With 42 percent of the aggregate championship field, let’s call it slightly less than 50-50. Though TRD has the fewest number of entries in Xfinity, I think that might be the manufacturer’s best shot at the championship.

Dustin Long: I agree with Nate in that Christopher Bell is the favorite in the Xfinity Series. I think it could be tough for the Toyotas to beat the Fords in the Cup race. Still, I give Toyota about a 40 percent chance of winning all three driver titles this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: I’ll put it at 50 percent. If Brett Moffitt doesn’t win in Trucks, it’ll probably be Johnny Sauter. Even though there’s two Toyotas in that series, I think they’re at a bigger disadvantage there.

Dan Beaver: Fairly high: 80%. Gragson and Bell have been dominant at times in their respective series. Busch is going to have a spirited battle with Kevin Harvick that will ultimately come down to track position on the final stop.

Truck results, point standings after Phoenix

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Brett Moffitt grabbed the lead on a late-race restart to record his fifth win of the season.

He beat Noah Gragson to the line after Gragson lost ground on a late-race battle with Grant Enfinger.

Harrison Burton finished third, with Enfinger dropping to fourth and Stewart Friesen rounding out the top five.

Click here for complete results.

Moffitt’s victory locked him into the Championship 4.

He joined Martinsville winner Johnny Sauter, who finished seventh in the race.

Justin Haley was locked into the finale with last week’s win at Texas. He blew an engine with 19 laps remaining and finished 28th.

Gragson finished second to round out the Championship 4.

Enfinger’s fourth was not enough to advance him to the finale.

Matt Crafton finished 11th and was also eliminated from contention.

Click here for complete points.

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Phoenix, Championship 4 set

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Brett Moffitt took advantage of a late-race restart to win his fifth race of the season and lock into the Championship 4 at Miami.

Moffitt restarted third with four laps remaining as fellow playoff contenders Noah Gragson and Grant Enfinger started on the front row.

Enfinger raced Gragson hard and as the two pushed up the track, that made room for Moffitt to grab the lead.

Gragson held on to finish second.

“On that restart, I spun the tires a little bit in the restart zone and then in (Turns) 1 and 2 I got run up the racetrack.” Gragson told Fox Sports 1 after the race. “I guess I was three-wide. We were beating and banging. That’s what you got to do. I dish it, so I sure as hell got to take it. I respect the 98 for what he did. He’s going for the win; I’m going for the win. But most importantly we’re going to be racing for a championship next week at Homestead.”

Harrison Burton was third, Enfinger fourth and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Friesen appeared to have a shot at the victory until he was caught speeding during a pit stop at the end of Stage 2.

With his fourth-place finish, Enfinger was eliminated from the playoffs.

Playoff contender Johnny Sauter, who was already locked into the championship finale, finished seventh.

Matt Crafton finished 11th and failed to advance to the Championship 4.

The race was red flagged on Lap 131 when playoff contender Justin Haley oiled down the track with a blown engine. He was running fifth at the time, but retired in 28th. Haley was already locked into the Championship 4 with his win last week at Texas.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Harrison Burton

MORE: Click here for complete results
MORE: Click here for complete points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Derek Kraus finished eighth in his Truck debut. … Christian Eckes scored his third top 10 in his fourth career Truck start; he finished ninth. … In his second career start, Tyler Ankrum survived a spin on Lap 17 and climbed to sixth at the checkers. … Sheldon Creed qualified 16th and advanced to 10th for his first Truck top 10 in six starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek gambled on two tires when the field pitted at the end of Stage 2; he spun with 23 laps to go while trying to hold Enfinger at bay and finished 29th. … Todd Gilliland was involved in an accident with Ankrum on Lap 17 and was never able to rebound; Gilliland finished 17th.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “Sorry guys. All we had. Don’t know what else to tell you,” Enfinger said to his team over the radio after the checkered flag waved.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 200 at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Fox Sports 1.

Noah Gragson wins truck pole at Phoenix

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Playoff contender Noah Gragson posted a lap of 136.075 mph in the final round of qualification for the Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway and will lead the field to green tonight.

He beat fellow playoff contender Justin Haley (135.221 mph) by .167 seconds.

Harrison Burton (134.887), Stewart Friesen (134.862) and playoff eligible Brett Moffitt (134.821) rounded out the top five.

Other playoff drivers: Matt Crafton (134.399) qualified 10th, Grant Enfinger (133.993) qualified 12th and Johnny Sauter (133.844) qualified 14th.

Click here for the complete lineup.

 

NASCAR Truck practice report at Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Harrison Burton posted the fastest lap in the final Camping World Truck Series practice Friday at ISM Raceway, sweeping both practices.

Burton posted a lap of 136.121 mph. He was followed by Noah Gragson (135.542 mph), Justin Haley (135.338), Ben Rhodes (134.958) and Derek Kraus (134.534). Kraus, a K&N Pro Series West driver is making his series debut.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for final Truck practice report

Opening practice 

Harrison Burton posted the fastest lap in the opening Camping World Truck Series practice Friday at ISM Raceway.

Burton went 135.425 mph. He was followed by Noah Gragson (135.354 mph), Ben Rhodes (134.842), Matt Crafton (134.731) and Johnny Sauter (134.348).

Truck teams will have a second practice before qualifying and racing Friday.

Click here for opening practice report