Results, stats after Xfinity playoff race at Phoenix

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Christopher Bell won Saturday’s Xfinity race at ISM Raceway, leading 94 laps after he started 38th.

Bell clinched a spot in the Championship 4 at Miami next weekend.

The top five was completed by Daniel Hemric, Austin Cindric, Matt Tifft and Ryan Preece.

Click here for race results.

Points

With his win Bell joins Cole Custer, Hemric and Tyler Reddick in the Championship 4.

Custer got in through his win at Texas. Hemric and Reddick secured spot through points.

Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric were eliminated from title contention.

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins at Phoenix to clinch spot in Xfinity title race

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Facing a must-win situation, Christopher Bell did just that, winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Miami.

Bell entered the race 34 points out from the final transfer spot. He started 38th after his No. 20 Toyota did not get through inspection in time to qualify.

The rookie marched through the field and took the lead for good on Lap 108 when he passed John Hunter Nemechek.

Bell led 94 laps and beat Daniel Hemric, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Ryan Preece.

It is Bell’s seventh win of the season, a rookie record.

“I’ll be honest after (DNFs at) Kansas and Texas I kind of just accepted we wouldn’t be able to get there,” Bell told NBC. “Just came over here with a ‘Let’s have fun attitude.’ … We didn’t really make our way up front that fast. I kind of got stalled out once I got into the top 15. I knew this thing was really fast because yesterday in practice it was really good. That clean air just meant so much. My pit crew did an amazing job … We’re going to (Miami), baby.”

Justin Allgaier, who won five races this season, was eliminated from title contention. He placed 24th, one laps down after he lost his brakes with about 20 laps to go.

Elliott Sadler, who will not compete full-time after the end of the season, was also eliminated.

Austin Cindric and Matt Tifft were the other drivers eliminated.

The Championship 4 will be Cole Custer, Bell, Hemric and Tyler Reddick

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Daniel Hemric earned his fifth runner-up finish without a Xfinity win … Matt Tifft placed third, his best result since he finished second at Road America … Austin Cindric earned his third top five in the last five races.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Akinori Ogata extended the series’ streak of incidents on Lap 1 to three races when he wrecked in Turn 3. He finished 33rd … After winning the first two stages, Justin Allgaier placed 24th, one lap down. He suffered damage from contact with John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 145. He then lost his brakes with about 20 laps to go, but finished the race.

NOTABLE: Chevrolet clinched its 19th manufacturer championship in the series at the start of the race … Christopher Bell’s seven wins are the most by a non-Cup driver in Xfinity since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won seven times in 1998.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ”Disappointment. At the end of the day we did everything right this year. We had a great season. Today we did everything right at the beginning part of the race. That was probably the most frustrating part. We led a lot of laps. We won both stages. All things considered it was going to be a great day. Ultimately at the end, getting ourselves in that bad position, getting caught up in that little of a crash and losing brakes. At that point it was survival, gain as many points as we can gain.” – Justin Allgaier after he was eliminated for title contention.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 17 on NBCSN

 

John Hunter Nemechek wins Xfinity pole at Phoenix; Christopher Bell to start from rear

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John Hunter Nemechek won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series playoff race at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) with a top speed of 133.482 mph.

It is Nemechek’s first Xfinity Series pole.

“It feels good,” Nemechek told NBCSN. “We came here with the mindset to try and qualify on the pole. … We unloaded not really good yesterday so we only got to do one mock (qualifying) run and it wasn’t that great.”

The pole comes a day after Chip Ganassi Racing announced Ross Chastain will drive its No. 42 Xfinity car full-time next season.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (playoffs), Austin Cindric (playoffs), Justin Allgaier (playoffs) and Ryan Preece.

Playoff drivers Elliott Sadler (sixth), Daniel Hemric (eighth) and Matt Tifft (10th) also qualified within in the top 12.

Tyler Reddick (14th) was the only playoff driver who made a qualifying attempt to not advance to final round.

Playoff contender Christopher Bell did not make a qualifying attempt in Round 1 after his No. 20 Toyota did not make it through inspection in time to make a lap. Bell’s car failed inspection three times, resulting in the ejection of car chief Chris Sherwood.

Bell enters the elimination race 34 points out of the final transfer spot and in essentially a must-win situation to advance to Miami.

“Well the good thing is (Miami) doesn’t decide on where we start, it decides on where we finish,” Bell told NBCSN. “We got 200 laps, which is an eternity, especially from what I grew up doing in sprint car racing. Got a bunch of pit stops in there and a fast car to make it up. We’ll be fine.”

Bell said the car is the same one he took to Victory Lane in both Richmond races this season.

“This is probably the fastest car we’ve brought to the race track all year-long compared to the field,” Bell said.

Ty Majeski and Josh Bilicki also did not make attempts. Majeski’s car also failed inspection three times.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Bump & Run: Debating Cup, Xfinity playoff picture

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Who do you see as the favorite to win the Cup title, and who do you see as their biggest potential threat?

Nate Ryan: Kevin Harvick is the favorite, and it seems as if anyone driving a Ford would be his biggest threat, so Joey Logano trumps the remainder of the (formerly?) Big Three. If they advance to Miami, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will have to prove their championship mettle.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick is the favorite. He’s ranked No. 1 in green-flag speed in the three playoff races on 1.5-mile tracks and it’s hard to think that speed will drop in Miami at that 1.5-mile track. Biggest threat: Themselves. If Harvick and his team don’t make mistakes, this is their championship.

Daniel McFadin: Kevin Harvick is the favorite and as of now Joey Logano will be his biggest threat given how the rest of the title favorites have been racing.

Dan Beaver: Given the current state of points and most likely drivers to contend for the championship, I have to say Harvick. If Chase Elliott makes it into the championship 4, however, he has been my pick since the start to the playoffs. 

What impact will relocating the start/finish line at Phoenix make there this weekend?

Nate Ryan: Probably minimal unless there’s an opportunity for a playoff driver in a must-win situation and running second to cut the dogleg on the last lap.

Dustin Long: More than people think. I’ll go with what Aric Almirola said about how he sees the change impacting the racing: “I would imagine that we will cross the start-finish line and be nine-wide going though the dogleg and then try to figure out how to get back to two-wide by the time we get to the new Turn 1.”

Daniel McFadin: Phoenix will probably have the most interesting restarts on the circuit starting this weekend. I’m hoping for a possible overtime restart to really see how drivers approach it.

Dan Beaver: Minimal. There will be some improved optics as drivers are now able to fan out, but the racing will be pretty much unchanged. 

Both Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier have combined to win 11 of the 31 Xfintiy races this season but both are outside a transfer spot to Miami entering this weekend’s Xfinity race at Phoenix. Will they advance to the championship race? Will only one? Or will both fail to advance?

Nate Ryan: It seems as if one still could make it via a victory, and Bell seemed to be in a good frame of mind despite his crash at Texas.

Dustin Long: Both make it. Bell wins. Allgaier makes it on points.

Daniel McFadin: I think only one of them advances and it will be Allgaier by the smallest of points margins.

Dan Beaver: Bell makes it in on the strength of a top five or a win. Allgaier finishes well, but will not earn quite enough points. 

Results, points after Xfinity playoff race at Texas

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Cole Custer snapped a 30-race winless streak with his victory in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Custer passed Tyler Reddick on the last lap to score the win.

The top five was completed by Reddick, Austin Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier.

Christopher Bell placed 32nd after he wrecked from contact with Cindric on Lap 134. It is his second straight DNF.

Click here for the results.

Points

With his win, Custer is the first driver to secure a spot in the championship four.

The top four ahead of next weekend’s elimination race at ISM Raceway are Reddick (+20 above cutline), Elliott Sadler (+13) and Daniel Hemric (+12).

With one race until the championship round, the two winningest series regulars this year are below the cutline.

Justin Allgaier, who has five wins, is fifth on the playoff grid, 12 points below the cutoff.

Matt Tifft is sixth (-14).

Bell, who has six wins, is seventh (-34).

Cindric is last on the grid (-61).