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Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Miami

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Here is who NBC’s writers think will win today’s race at Miami (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch wins the race and the championship.

Nate Ryan

Denny Hamlin continues his streak of seasons with at least one victory; Kevin Harvick wins the title.

Daniel McFadin

Erik Jones wins the race, but Martin Truex Jr. claims the title.

Dan Beaver

Joey Logano was my dark horse pick prior to practice, but the speed he showed on Saturday has made him a favorite.

Video: Championship 4 drivers race Jimmy Fallon on ‘The Tonight Show’

Photo: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
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Before they took part in the big championship race Sunday (3 p.m. ET on NBC), the Cup title contenders had a smaller race to take part in Tuesday night.

Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Joey Logano raced host Jimmy Fallon with RC cars over a course on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” stage.

You can see for yourself how the unique race went.

The question is will the results of this race match the results of Sunday’s championship race among those four drivers?

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.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Phoenix

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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Here is who NBC’s writers think will win today’s race at ISM Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Dustin Long

Is there really any other choice? Kevin Harvick hands down.

Nate Ryan

Kevin Harvick.

Daniel McFadin

Somebody has to pick against Kevin Harvick. I’ll take Chase Elliott.

Dan Beaver

The only one who can beat Kevin Harvick is Kevin Harvick. Of course, that has happened several times so far this year.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Scan All, Stewart-Haas Racing report

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Krista Voda hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty, Parker Kligerman and Nate Ryan.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll look back at Sunday’s race and see how Kevin Harvick took down Texas to secure a ticket to the Championship 4 at Miami. We’ll also look at the drama that unfolded for some other Playoff drivers in today’s edition of Scan All: Texas.
  • Marty Snider was busy today at Stewart-Haas Racing. He provides a report on the team’s current situation in the playoffs. He also spoke to Clint Bowyer’s crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, as well as Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer. The latter is coming off a win at Texas to grab a spot in the Xfinity Series Championship 4.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the NBC iRacing Simulator to show us the challenges that await the field at the new-look ISM Raceway at Phoenix.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.