clinch scenarios

Cup Series Championship 4 clinching scenarios

Leave a comment

It will be warm in the Phoenix area this weekend, but it will be even hotter for the six remaining Cup Series playoff drivers.

Those six drivers will compete Sunday at ISM Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) to be the two drivers who advance to the Championship 4 in Miami with Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Each driver could advance by simply winning Sunday’s race on the 1-mile track, but that can only be said for one driver.

At least one driver will have to advance on points.

Here are the clinching scenarios for each of the six remaining playoff drivers.

Kyle Busch (4,113 points) – Would clinch by earning 53 points and there being a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Joey Logano), he would clinch a position having earned 34 points.

Busch enters the race as the winner of the last two Cup races at ISM Raceway, but he is winless in his last 20 starts.

“We all know (at least) one guy is going to move through on points and we have to do whatever we have to do in order to be that guy,” Busch said in a media release. “If we can obviously go to Phoenix and have a strong run and be able to go out there and win, that will put us through, as well. We’re two (points) up on (Joey Logano), so it’s going to be a race between the 18 and the 22. Imagine that. We’ll look forward to the challenge and hope we have a strong run in order to make it through to Homestead.”

Joey Logano (4,111 points) – Would clinch by earning 55 points and there being a new winner. If there is a repeat winner or a Kyle Busch victory, he would need to earn only 36 points.

Logano didn’t earn his first top-five finish of the playoffs until last weekend at Texas and yet he’s still in position to claim back-to-back championships. 

He has only one top five in his last seven starts at ISM Raceway, his win in the 2016 playoff race.

“We’ve had more blue-collar days than you can imagine throughout these playoffs,” Logano said after Sunday’s race. “We’re not locked in like (Harvick) and (Truex) but we’re not out either.

“We’ve just got to go to Phoenix and do the same things we’ve been doing. We’ve got to score stage points and get a great finish. Off we go.”

Denny Hamlin (4,091 points) – Could clinch on points, with help.

A wreck in the first stage Sunday at Texas resulted in Hamlin being 20 points behind the cutoff going into this weekend’s race.

Hamlin has only one Phoenix win, in the 2012 spring race. In the 14 races since, he has six top fives.

“I’m optimistic we can win,” Hamlin said Sunday. “We’ve been really good there for many, many years and knowing that we have to go win, it puts a very easy strategy in our hands. If anything you have an advantage with cautions coming out and some people battling for stage points, we’re going to get good track position as long as we’re competitive at the end of that race because we’re going just for that race win.”

Ryan Blaney (4,088 points) – Could clinch on points, with help.

The Team Penske driver had a win at ISM Raceway in his sights in the spring before he was overtaken by Busch and Truex in the closing laps. His third-place finish was his first result better than eighth in seven Phoenix starts.

He enters the weekend tied with Kyle Larson in points.

“In the spring race you saw a lot of cars immediately drive to the apron as soon as you crossed the start-finish line and I think that is going to be the same,” Blaney said in a media release. “You saw us four wide into (Turn) 1 on a handful of occasions. You just hope you are in a spot going forward and not getting stuck three wide. With the added downforce we’re faster there through the corners and the qualifying speeds were way up. The cars go faster and you can drive them harder.”

Kyle Larson (4,088 points) – Could clinch on points, with help.

“Our team has never made it this close to a shot at the final four, and even though we’re not in great place in the points, we’re excited about our chances this weekend,” Larson said in a media release. “I think our strategy has been good the last two races, we just didn’t have things work out on track in our favor last weekend.

“It sounds like the traction compound will be applied this weekend similar to last weekend, and I think that plays into my ability to move around during the race to find speed. So, we’ll head to the track this weekend ready to do what we can to have a good race and hopefully advance.”

Chase Elliott (4,033 points) – Must win to earn a Championship 4 position.

Elliott is the only driver who has to win Sunday to advance to Miami.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is 78 points back from the cutoff after finishes of 36th and 32nd in the first two races of the Round of 8. Elliott has managed incredible comebacks twice in the playoffs, winning at Roval in the first round and skating by with a runner-up finish at Kansas in the second round.

Elliott has two top-three finishes in seven starts at ISM Raceway.

“We’ve seen guys make up a lot of ground on restarts and the closing restarts in the past couple of (Phoenix) races,” Elliott said in a media release. “There’s a time and there are different opportunities that I think it can work better than others and it just depends on the situation and who’s in front of you and what kind of gap there is to the people around you and all kinds of situational things that you just have to make split second decisions as to what feels right and what’s not.”

and on Facebook

Xfinity Series Championship 4 clinching scenarios

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christopher Bell planted his flag in the Xfinity Series’ Championship 4 last weekend with his sweep of the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

He’ll get his second shot at a Xfinity championship Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

That leaves three spots to be filled Saturday at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) by seven hopeful drivers.

Here’s your guide to how each driver can clinch a spot in the Championship 4 other than winning.

Cole Custer (+52 points above cutline): The Stewart-Haas Racing driver can clinch on points if he earns 22 points and there is a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Tyler Reddick or Justin Allgaier), he could clinch on points with four points earned.

Custer has finished in the top 10 in four of his five career Xfinity starts at ISM Raceway.

“Fifty-two points is a great gap as we head into this weekend but it’s not something we can be comfortable with,” Custer said in a press release. “If one of the guys below the cut line ends up grabbing a win, then I think we only sit 16 points ahead of Tyler Reddick and if we have a bad day or something happens early in the race, that could knock us out of contention. Our best bet is to just go into this race and get the Haas Automation car back into Victory Lane and control our own destiny. We had a really good car here in the spring  (finished fourth), one I think we were capable of winning with, so that is what our goal is for this weekend.”

Tyler Reddick (+36 points):  The Richard Childress Racing driver can clinch on points by earning 38 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Cole Custer or Justin Allgaier), he could clinch by earning 20 points.

Reddick finished third at ISM Raceway in the spring.

“We know going into this weekend we need to keep our No. 2 myblu Chevrolet Camaro clean in order to advance … so we’ll be paying really close attention to what’s happening on the restarts throughout the race,” Reddick said in a media release. “With the starting line being at the end of the new Turns 3 and 4, there is endless amounts of race track for people to play with. It’s so wide but narrows up so fast. That makes it very interesting going into Turn 1. As a driver, you have to be on your toes and understand you could be on top of four or three-wide, or on the bottom of the same situation.”

Justin Allgaier (+18 points): The JR Motorsports driver can clinch on points if there is a repeat winner (or a win by Cole Custer or Tyler Reddick) and he earns 38 points. He could also clinch on points with a new winner and help.

Allgaier won the spring 2017 event at ISM Raceway and has six top fives in 18 career starts on the 1-mile track.

“There is a lot on the line this weekend at Phoenix,” said in a media release. “Right now we’re in a good position sitting fourth in points, but I know there are a lot of guys behind us that are battling for that same spot. Phoenix is a good track for us though and everyone on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture team is prepared and focused on what we need to do

Chase Briscoe (-18 points), Michael Annett (-28) and Austin Cindric (-31) can all clinch a spot in the Championship 4 on points with help.

Briscoe finished sixth in the spring race, while Annett placed eighth and Cindric finished fifth.

Due to inspection issues at Texas, Briscoe will lose 30 minutes of practice time this weekend.

“It’s essentially a must-win situation for us this weekend after the luck we had at Texas,” Briscoe said in a media release of his 22nd-place finish after he had to pit for a cut tire. “Honestly, Phoenix isn’t one of my best racetracks, but we learned a lot back in the spring and were able to get the car where I needed it to be towards the end of the race. Hopefully, we will have good speed right out of the box and set ourselves up to battle for the win, so we can be one of the four cars battling for a championship. We won’t go down without a fight that’s for sure – I believe in my guys and think we can make it happen.”

Noah Gragson (-47) could also clinch on points with a repeat winner and help.

Gragson placed 11th in the spring race and he’s coming off his first DNF of the season last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Gragson finished second in the 2018 Truck Series race at ISM Raceway.

and on Facebook

Chase grid and clinch scenarios entering Talladega

Leave a comment

Sunday’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway represents the final race of the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It’s the last chance for 11 drivers to race or win their way into the eight possible slots in the third round.

With Joey Logano‘s wins in the first two races of the second round, only one other drive has the chance to earn an automatic spot in the third round with a win.

The drivers currently below the cutoff spot are Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. In the cutoff spot is Martin Truex Jr. Above him, in a three-way tie at 3,071 points (one point above cutoff), are Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon.

Here is a look at the full Chase grid and the clinch scenarios for each driver.

Chase Grid_Entering_Talladega