NASCAR Cup Series News (17900)
NBC Sports NASCAR Hot Pass presents hyper-focused simulcast coverage over 2019 Championship Four contenders on NBCSN11 Nov 2019 Written by Speedway Digest Staff
For the fifth consecutive year, NBC Sports will deliver multi-network coverage of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship, this Sunday, November 17 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. As a complement to NBC’s primary broadcast of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race from Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday’s NASCAR Hot Pass telecast on NBCSN will offer simultaneous live coverage hyper-focused on each of the Championship Four drivers.
From the green flag to the checkered, NBCSN’s multi-window telecast will provide viewers with an isolated in-depth look at Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. as they battle for the 2019 Monster Energy Cup Series title.
NBC Sports veteran motorsports announcer Leigh Diffey will call NASCAR Hot Pass coverage on NBCSN alongside analyst and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett, who won the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series title at Homestead-Miami 20 years ago.
Here are highlights of NBC Sports’ NASCAR Hot Pass simulcast on NBCSN:
- Isolated cameras dedicated to each of the Championship Four drivers
- Continuous team radio communication from each of the Championship Four drivers
- On-air graphics highlighting point differentials and field changes between the drivers, as well an independent pane of race facts and figures to give viewers up to the minute statistics about the race.
- The return of the Dale Jr. Spy Cam, which made its debut at Martinsville, which will provide a behind-the-scenes look into the broadcast booth with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton.
In addition to live television coverage, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will provide live streaming coverage of NBC’s race broadcast and NBCSN’s Hot Pass presentation.
NBC Sports PR
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is competing for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A NASCAR Cup Series title would be the second for Harvick and the third for SHR since its inception in 2009. SHR won the 2011 Cup Series championship with driver-owner Tony Stewart and Harvick won the team’s second title in 2014.
The following are some anecdotes regarding the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title contender.
● Harvick has eight driving titles in his 38 years of racing. They are as follows:
- 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship
- 2006 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
- 2002 IROC Series championship
- 2001 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
- 1998 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship
- 1993 Late Model Track championship at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California
- 1987 International Kart Federation National championship
- 1985 International Kart Federation National championship
● No. 4 team crew chief Rodney Childers scored his lone championship as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief in 2014 with Harvick.
● SHR co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have three NASCAR championships since joining forces in 2009.
- 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series owners’ championship with the No. 00 team of Cole Custer
- 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship with the No. 4 team of Harvick
- 2011 NASCAR Cup Series championship with the No. 14 team of Stewart
● Tony Stewart has 29 overall championships as a car owner.
- 2 NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of SHR:
- 2014 with Harvick
- 2011 as a driver/owner
- 1 NASCAR Xfinity Series owners’ championship as co-owner of SHR:
- 2018 with No. 00 team
- 9 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championships as the owner of Tony Stewart Racing:
- 2018 with Donny Schatz
- 2017 with Schatz
- 2016 with Schatz
- 2015 with Schatz
- 2014 with Schatz
- 2012 with Schatz
- 2009 with Schatz
- 2008 with Schatz
- 2001 with Danny Lasoski
- 14 USAC championships as the owner of Tony Stewart Racing:
- 2013 USAC Sprint Car championship with Bryan Clauson
- 2013 USAC Silver Crown championship with Bobby East
- 2011 USAC Sprint Car championship with Levi Jones
- 2011 USAC Silver Crown championship with Jones
- 2010 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
- 2010 USAC Silver Crown championship with Jones
- 2008 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
- 2007 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
- 2006 USAC Sprint Car championship with Josh Wise
- 2005 USAC Silver Crown championship with J.J. Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
- 2004 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
- 2003 USAC Sprint Car championship with Yeley
- 2003 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
- 2002 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
- 3 UMRA King of the TQ Midget Racing Series championships
- 2017 with Ron Combs
- 2015 with Combs
- 2005 with Combs
● If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the 16th NASCAR Cup Series driver to win two or more championships since the sport was founded in 1948.
● If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the first driver since SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to win a NASCAR Cup Series title with two different manufacturers. Nine drivers have accomplished the feat.
- Tim Flock (1952 Hudson; 1955 Chrysler)
- Lee Petty (1954 Chrysler; 1958 Oldsmobile; 1959 Plymouth)
- Buck Baker (1956 Chrysler; 1957 Chevrolet)
- Ned Jarrett (1961 Chevrolet; 1965 Ford)
- Richard Petty (1964, 1967, 1971-1972 Plymouth; 1974-75 Dodge; 1979 Chevrolet)
- David Pearson (1966 Dodge; 1968-69 Ford)
- Cale Yarborough (1976-77 Chevrolet; 1978 Oldsmobile)
- Darrell Waltrip (1981-82 Buick; 1985 Chevrolet)
- Tony Stewart (2002 Pontiac; 2005 and 2011 Chevrolet)
● If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would deliver the 10th driver title to Ford in the NASCAR Cup Series, and its second straight.
- Ned Jarrett (1965)
- David Pearson (1968, 1969)
- Bill Elliott (1988)
- Alan Kulwicki (1992)
- Dale Jarrett (1999)
- Matt Kenseth (2003)
- Kurt Busch (2004)
- Joey Logano (2018)
● If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the first driver in NASCAR history to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series titles. Harvick won the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship and is a two-time Xfinity Series champion (2001 and 2006).
● Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski are the only drivers to earn both a NASCAR Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
● Harvick and Kyle Busch are the only drivers to make the Championship 4 at Homestead five times in the six years since the inception of the winner-take-all format in 2014.
● Since joining forces in 2014, Harvick and crew chief Childers have combined to produce 26 victories, 25 poles, 105 top-five finishes and 152 top-10s; led 9,567 laps; and made the Championship 4 five times in the last six years. (They won the 2014 Cup Series title and have finished runner-up twice, to 2015 champion Kyle Busch and to 2018 champion Joey Logano.) Their worst points finish is eighth in 2016.)
● In 2019 alone, Harvick has claimed four victories, a series-leading six poles, 14 top-fives, 25 top-10s and led 912 laps.
● Harvick has led laps in 17 of the 35 NASCAR Cup Series races run thus far in 2019. He has led the most laps in six races:
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March (88)
- Kansas Speedway in May (104)
- Chicagoland Speedway in June (132)
- Pocono Raceway in July (62)
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September (118)
- Texas Motor Speedway in November (119)
● Harvick is only 88 laps away from tallying 1,000 laps led in 2019. If he leads 88 or more laps at Homestead, it will be the fifth time in his career that Harvick has led 1,000 or more laps in a season – all of which will have come with SHR.
● Harvick is only seven laps shy of reaching 14,000 career laps led. Should he lead seven or more laps at Homestead, he will become just the 11th driver in Cup Series history – and only the third active driver – to surpass 14,000 laps led in his career.
● Harvick has scored nine playoff wins since coming to SHR in 2014. He is tied with fellow Championship 4 competitor Martin Truex Jr. for the most playoff wins since the inception of the winner-take-all format in 2014. Harvick’s playoff wins are as follows:
- Charlotte Motor Speedway (2014)
- ISM Raceway near Phoenix (2014)
- Homestead-Miami Speedway (2014)
- Dover International Speedway (2015)
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2016)
- Kansas Speedway (2016)
- Texas Motor Speedway (2017)
- Texas Motor Speedway (2018)
- Texas Motor Speedway (2019)
● In 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead, Harvick has a pole (2016), a win (2014), 10 top-fives, 16 top-10s and 373 laps led. His average start at the 1.5-mile oval is 12.3, his average finish is 6.6 and he has completed all but one of the 4,812 laps available.
● Harvick’s 10 top-fives at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Jimmie Johnson with five top-fives.
● Harvick’s 16 top-10s at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Jimmie Johnson with 11 top-10s.
● Harvick’s 373 laps led at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Kyle Busch with 343 laps led.
● Harvick leads the following loop-data categories at Homestead:
- Best Average Running Position: 5.6 average finish and an 8.162 average position.
- Next best is Martin Truex Jr. with a 9.2 average finish and an 8.712 average position.
- Best Closer: 3.2 average spots gained and a collective gain of 45 positions.
- Next best is Aric Almirola with 3.8 average spots gained and a collective gain of 34 positions.
- Best Average Speed Late in a Run: 145.837 mph.
- Next best is Martin Truex Jr. at 145.581 mph.
- Laps in Top-15: 3,136
- Next best is Martin Truex Jr. with 2,959 laps.
NASCAR’s Championship Weekend set-up included clutch performances in all three national series this past weekend at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.
Canadian Stewart Friesen won the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at the Phoenix one-miler – his second career series victory and first ever opportunity to race for a series championship.
NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Justin Allgaier turned in his best effort of the season when it counted most – rallying to a victory on Saturday at Phoenix and earning his third title opportunity in the past four years.
Easily the weekend’s high drama moment came Sunday when Denny Hamlin earned his sixth win of the year – rallying from fifth place in the Playoff standings to earn the last Championship 4 automatic bid displacing reigning series champion Joey Logano as a title contender.
Martin Truex Jr., who won at Martinsville Speedway, Kevin Harvick, who won at Texas Motor Speedway, join Hamlin and regular season champion Kyle Busch to settle the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship this Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Intense competition filled the 2019 Playoffs and there’s every reason to believe there will be strong storylines at Miami as well.
Hamlin is the only member of the four Cup championship eligible drivers seeking his first title hardware. And he’ll be competing against two fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – 2017 series champion Martin Truex Jr. and 2015 champ Kyle Busch - for the big prize.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick won the 2014 series championship – pulling off a Phoenix “walk-off” win similar to Hamlin's this week. Harvick was ranked eighth in the standings heading into that Penultimate Playoff race and won it to earn his shot at the title. And he answered the effort with an emotional trophy hoist a week later at Homestead-Miami, Fla.
“I knew at the end of the race last week we were going to have a fighting chance," Hamlin said. “I had all the parts and pieces I needed to go to Phoenix and win the race. But it’s all the unknowns that you don’t know about.
“I just made sure I did my job. [Crew chief] Chris [Gabehart] worked really hard and did his job. Great to have a result like that."
Should anyone other than Hamlin win the title at Miami, the sport would be crowning only the second multi-time champion currently active in the series – joining seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson.
Certainly all the Playoff eligible drivers drove at Phoenix like they were teeing up for this week’s title race in South Florida. Busch finished runner-up to Hamlin. Truex was fourth and Harvick was fifth.
This year’s title battle will mark only the second time since the Playoff eliminations started in the 2014 season that a team has had multiple drivers among the Championship 4. In 2016, both Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch advanced to the Championship 4 – a race and championship ultimately won by Hendrick Motorsport's Jimmie Johnson.
This weekend three JGR Toyotas fill the championship grid.
“We’ve raced against the 18 [Busch] there a few times, and kind of quasi-teammates, but never under the same roof, so to speak," Truex said, referring to the Furniture Row Racing Toyota team he was part of for the 2017 championship.
“I’m not sure [what to think]. It’s going to be interesting for sure. I feel like we’re here for a reason and that’s because we all work together so well and hopefully we’ll do that the same this week and throughout the weekend next weekend. And then Sunday, let the best team win."
When it comes to competing on the Homestead-Miami 1.5-miler, Harvick holds the mark for laps led (373) over Busch (343), Hamlin (254) and Truex (209).
As for average finishes, Harvick’s 6.6 is easily best among this group of final four drivers and he boasts the most top-fives (10) and top-10s (16) as well.
Hamlin has a 10.6 average finish at Homestead and is the only driver among the group that has never suffered a DNF there. Truex averages a 10.8 finish and has a pair of runner-up finishes. Busch is averaging a 17.4 average finish at Homestead, but has scored six of his career seven top-10s in the last seven races.
Harvick (2014), Truex (2017) and Busch (2015) all won the race en route to their title.
Hamlin is the only multi-time winner among the foursome – earning trophies in 2009 and 2013 pre-dating the current Playoff elimination format.
“There’s still work to be done," Hamlin told the television audience Sunday. “[The win] doesn’t guarantee a championship. Gives us a chance. Live to fight another day.
“That’s all you can ask for."
Club Wyndham®, the nation’s largest vacation club, wants you to hit the road next summer and has teamed up with Richard Petty to provide the ultimate road trip ride — the Club Wyndham 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS, custom built by Petty’s Garage. Travelers can enter Richard Petty’s Roadtrip Sweepstakes,in Partnership with Club Wyndham now through May 5, 2020, for a chance to win the custom Camaro, vacation stays at Club Wyndham resorts and more.
Six sweepstakes finalists will enjoy the trip of a lifetime to Charlotte, North Carolina where they will meet Richard Petty and NASCAR driver Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. Each of the finalists will receive a key to the Club Wyndham Camaro, but only one lucky driver will be able to unlock the custom car and speed off with the grand prize.
The Club Wyndham 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS was built by the crew at Petty’s Garage — the premier destination for custom performance builds – exclusively for the sweepstakes. One-of-a-kind enhancements made to the car include racing-inspired features, such as a custom spoiler and window etching, sport wheels and tires, Magnaflow Catback Competition Series Exhaust, Elbach pro lowering springs and many other features to make a one-of-a-kind ride.
“Our team at Petty’s Garage put a lot of thought into how to transform the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS into a unique, Club Wyndham-branded ride that any car enthusiast will love,” said Richard Petty, NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and Club Wyndham timeshare owner. “The result of that thoughtfulness is a truly exceptional car that is perfect for hitting the road and exploring new destinations.”
“The crew at Petty’s Garage have really outdone themselves with this incredible, custom-built Club Wyndham car,” says Noah Brodsky, chief brand officer for Wyndham Destinations. “We’re thrilled to work with the Petty team to get one lucky grand prize winner in the fast lane to fun with this decked-out ride, and to offer additional prizes through the Richard Petty’s Roadtrip Sweepstakes, in Partnership with Club Wyndham, that are sure to excite race fans and travel lovers alike.”
In addition to the grand prize winner, four first prize sweepstakes winners will enjoy a trip for two to Las Vegas that includes three nights at a Club Wyndham resort, airfare and ground transportation and a $250 gift card.
Twenty second prize winners will also win a four-day, three-night stay at a Club Wyndham resort, while an additional 10 third prize winners will win a NASCAR Racing Experience. Finally, 50 fourth prize winners will receive a NASCAR Racing Experience Ride-A-Long.
Travelers and race fans can enter to win and check out this custom ride in person at several Petty’s Garage Mobile Tour events, car shows, festivals and fan events in:
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- Richmond, Virginia, April 17 – 19, 2020
- Jeep Beach, Daytona Beach, Florida, April 20 – 26, 2020
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To enter the sweepstakes and learn more about the Official Rules and prizes, visit PettyVacations.com.
Club Wyndham celebrates a lifetime of adventure by helping vacation club owners unlock new cities, new experiences and new destinations. With access to more than 220 resorts in a variety of destinations that offer more experiences for travelers in the places they want to travel, Club Wyndham gives its owners the chance to check off the next adventure on their bucket lists. Multi-bedroom suites come complete with fully equipped kitchens, separate living and dining areas, washer/dryers, and outdoor grills to sample the local cuisine.
Families who would like to experience all that the club’s resorts have to offer but are not yet owners can book a stay in a spacious suite through vacation rental agency Extra Holidays. In celebration of Richard Petty’s Roadtrip Sweepstakes, in Partnership with Club Wyndham, travelers can take advantage of 15 percent off stays at selected Club Wyndham resorts via Extra Holidays now through December 31, 2019, when they book with the code VACAY19.
Club Wyndham PR
After blowing a right front tire early in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at ISM Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame adversity to score a 19th-place finish in his NOS Energy Drink Ford.
“We just struggled all weekend honestly,” Stenhouse said. “We could never really get the right handling on our NOS Energy Drink Ford. I’m still proud of my guys has they never gave up despite going a lap down due to the tire issue. I’m looking forward to Homestead next week and finishing my season out strong,”
After lining up in the 24th position for the 312-lap race, the two-time Xfinity champion patiently maneuvered his way forward picking up six positions by lap 49 despite having radio issues. Stenhouse could hear crew chief Brian Pattie and spotter Mike Herman Jr. but the team was unable to hear him. Unfortunately, the first caution flag was displayed due to Stenhouse blowing a right front tire.
Crew chief Brian Pattie immediately called him to pit-road for four tires, pull the fenders, and hopefully fix the radio issues. When the race went back green, Stenhouse was scored in the 32nd position, one lap down. When the first green checkered waved, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was scored in the 30th position.
With a caution free stage two, Stenhouse was able to gain three additional positions despite battling a tight machine taking the second green checkered in the 27th position.
When the caution flag waved on lap 166, Stenhouse’s perseverance paid off edging out Alex Bowman by a nose length to earn the lucky dog position to get back on the lead lap. Crew chief Brian Pattie called the Olive Branch, Miss. native to pit-road for four tires, fuel, and to make sure all the fenders were cleared. Stenhouse steadily worked his way forward and was shown in the 18th position when the caution flag waved on lap 303 setting up a three-lap shootout.
After staying out and taking the wave around, Stenhouse lined up in the 18th position but with three and four wide racing to the finish, Stenhouse was forced to settle with a 19th-place finish at ISM Raceway.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday Nov. 17. Race coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on NBC. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and NASCAR SIRIUS/XM radio channel 90.
In the debut for Mazola Corn Oil on Ryan Newman’s No. 6 Ford, the 2017 Phoenix winner crossed the line 18th Sunday afternoon at ISM Raceway.
Newman, the spring event winner two years ago, lined up 20th on the grid for the 312-lap race. Throughout the opening stage he reported he was tight in the center of turns one and two, and loose into three.
The first caution flag of the day would wave at lap 65 with Newman running 18th, before he pitted for adjustments to help the handling. He went on to record a 17th-place finish in the stage after a three-lap shootout.
After firing off 16th for the second stage, Newman reported the handling was improving as he finished 14th in the second stage, which ran caution-free to lap 150. Following another stop for service under the break, Newman lined back up 12th to begin the final segment. He advanced as high as 11th by lap 185 and was the first car to hit pit road under green at lap 230. He was caught speeding, forcing him to serve a pass through penalty.
Once stops cycled he ran 19th just a lap off pace, before the caution flew one final time with nine laps to go. He would take the wave around to restart the final three laps, before going on to finish 18th.
Newman and the No. 6 team head to Homestead next weekend for the season finale, which is set for 1 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage can also be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.
The No. 21 Menards/Maytag team went into the Bluegreen Vacations 500 weekend at ISM Raceway planning to give Paul Menard a fast Ford Mustang for his final start at the track just outside Phoenix.
The team left Phoenix feeling good about their efforts as Menard raced his way forward from his 19th starting spot to 12th at the finish on a day in which passing was difficult and track position was key.
Menard spent most of the first two 75-lap Stages running just inside the top 20, but after some adjustments at the end of the second stage, he began his drive forward.
By Lap 175, he’d cracked the top 15 and raced there for the remainder of a race that saw just two caution flags in the final half of the race.
In the latter portions of the race, there were as few as eight drivers on the lead lap at one point, but Menard wound up being among the 15 who finished the 312-lap race on the lead lap.
It took some heads-up driving by Menard, good pit strategy from crew chief Greg Erwin and fast stops by the over-the-wall crew to make that happen.
“Paul did a really good job,” Eddie Wood said. “The crew had some stops in the 12-second range, and Greg made some good calls and good adjustments.
“We had to take the wave-around a couple of times and didn’t have the best track position, but overall it was a good day for us.
“And Paul was able to pass two drivers for position on the last lap, which was impressive.”
Menard and the No. 21 team now head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend.
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 75):
● Bowyer started 13th and finished 14th.
● The No. 14 One Cure Ford driver reported his car was loose in the early going as the field ran single file.
● Bowyer asked the crew for handling changes to help his Mustang arc more in the corner on lap 49.
● A caution with just five laps remaining in the stage brought Bowyer to pit road for tires, fuel and handling adjustments.
● Bowyer returned to the track in 14th and held his position over the final laps of the stage.
● Bowyer stayed on the track during the stage break.
Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 150):
● Bowyer started 12th and finished 11th.
● The No. 14 One Cure Ford moved into the top-10 on lap 86.
● Bowyer climbed as high as ninth during the stage but continued to battle handling issues.
● Only 18 cars raced on the lead lap during the stage. Passing was more than challenging on the mile oval.
● Bowyer pitted during the stage break for fuel, tires and more adjustments.
Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 312):
● Bowyer started 10th and finished eighth.
● The No. 14 One Cure Ford driver raced in 10th by the lap-200 mark.
● On lap 215 Bowyer moved to ninth after passing Erik Jones, and he moved into eighth a few laps later when he passed Joey Logano.
● Bowyer continued to report his car was “loose in and tight in the middle.”
● With 80 laps to go and only 10 cars on the lead lap, Bowyer was the second highest running non-playoff driver.
● Bowyer made his first green flag stop of the race with 67 laps remaining.
● Bowyer raced in sixth with 55 laps remaining with only eight cars on lead lap.
● A caution forced a restart with three laps to go. Bowyer restarted seventh and fell to eighth in the shootout.
● Bowyer earned his 17th top-10 of the season and his eighth top-10 in 29 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
● This is Bowyer’s second consecutive top-15 at Phoenix. He finished 11th in the series’ previous visit to the track in March.
● Denny Hamlin won the Bluegreen Vacations 500k to score his 37th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his sixth of the season and his third at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .377 of a second.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
● Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Bluegreen Vacations 500kfinished on the lead lap.
● Ford took five of the top-10 finishing positions in the Bluegreen Vacations 500.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 One Cure Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That was a tough race today. We worked hard to get our car better and everyone did a really good job. We were just in the wrong lane there at the last restart. It was tough to pass today. Track position was everything. We’ll go to Homestead and finish this season out right next weekend.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday, Nov. 17 at at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final race of the 10-race playoff starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Denny Hamlin’s exorcism is complete. At ISM Raceway, the site of one of his biggest disappointments, Hamlin barged back into the Championship 4 with a dominating victory in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500.
Hamlin joins Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, Sunday’s runner-up, in the Nov. 17 race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The three JGR drivers will battle Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing for the trophy.
After losing control of his car and sliding off Turn 4 last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Hamlin fell 20 points below the cut line for the Championship 4 entering the Phoenix race. But with his victory, Hamlin knocked defending champion Joey Logano out of title contention.
“I can't believe it,” exulted Hamlin, who picked up his sixth victory of the season, his second at ISM Raceway and the 27th of his career. “This race team worked so hard this whole year. They deserve to be there. I put them in a bad hole last week.
“I told them today in the meeting, I said, ‘I'm going to give everything I've got to make up for the mistake I made last week.’ That's all I got.’
Logano finished ninth on Sunday and ended the Round of 8 fifth in the standings and seven points behind Busch, who grabbed the last berth in the title race.
Hamlin led a race-high 143 laps, including 142 of the last 146, and built a lead of more than 12 seconds before surrendering the top spot for four laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Hamlin’s advantage was more than nine seconds when John Hunter Nemechek’s Ford slapped the Turn 1 to cause the fifth and final caution.
“One of the best cars of my career, I can tell you that,” said Hamlin, who came to Phoenix as the championship favorite in 2010, only to lose 18 points of his 33-point lead on a misguided pit call. “Fast car. But, yeah, I pushed for all I had.
“I mean, that's all I got. Once we got the big lead there, a little over 10 seconds, I just kind of sat there. I got to thinking about if the caution does come out, I want to lap as many (cars) as I can.”
A week after his 2010 misfortune at Phoenix, a shell-shocked Hamlin spun early and lost the title to Jimmie Johnson. In contrast, it was a focused and determined Hamlin who showed up at Phoenix on Sunday.
Busch led the first 69 laps of the race but lost the first stage to Hamlin after Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s collision with the Turn 4 wall caused the first caution of the afternoon. When the race came down to a restart with three laps left, Busch couldn’t keep up with his teammate and finished .377 seconds behind the No. 11 Toyota Camry.
“Just didn't quite have enough,” Busch said. “I knew the 11 was the best car in practice. I knew we were going to be about third to fifth. We were second. Guys did a great job, this M&M Toyota Camry was good.
“It's cool to have a chance to go race for a championship. Just keep coming up short.”
Logano led 93 laps, won the second stage and was out front until Hamlin passed him for the lead on Lap 177. From that point, Logano dropped like a rock to 11th and fell a lap down to Hamlin before third-place finisher Ryan Blaney started a cycle of green-flag stops on Lap 243 of 312.
Kyle Larson ran fourth and failed to advance to the Championship 4, as did Blaney and Chase Elliott, who rocketed into the Turn 1 wall with a flat left rear tire on Lap 166 and finished 39th.