Page 2 for the week of 11-10-2014

The First Reid: Chase drivers proved themselves worthy at Phoenix

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, the final eight drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup demonstrated emphatically why they had earned their places in the Eliminator Round.

Consider the following:

Chase drivers took the top six finishing positions in the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.

Kevin Harvick won a race he had to win in dominating fashion, leading 264-of-312 laps.

Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth both turned in peak performances, finishing second and third, respectively. They simply weren’t fast enough to challenge Harvick and consequently missed the Championship Round at Homestead by one point in Gordon’s case, three points in Kenseth’s.

Trying to overcome a catastrophic rear gear failure two weeks earlier at Martinsville, Brad Keselowski managed a solid fourth-place effort at Phoenix, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the title race.

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano came home fifth and sixth, respectively, both rallying from laps down to advance to the season finale at Homestead.

Ryan Newman and his team put forth a heroic effort with a car that was slightly off, capping a charge to the title race with a last-lap desperation pass of Kyle Larson that gave Newman an 11th-place finish and a ticket to Homestead.

Carl Edwards ran 15th, struggling to find speed in his No. 99 Ford and making the most of the balky car, though it fell short of the win he would have needed to advance.

Though only four drivers remain eligible for the series title, it’s undeniable that the final race in the Chase’s Eliminator Round brought out the best in each of the eight drivers.

@nascarcasm

"For anyone who was listening to Joey Logano's radio frequency during Sunday's race, we propose a special paint scheme for Homestead."

“For anyone who was listening to Joey Logano’s radio frequency during Sunday’s race, we propose a special paint scheme for Homestead.”

Ryan Newman stole that final spot from Jeff Gordon. Looked like Grand Larson-y to me. HA! Sorry.

Note to crew chiefs: 2 tires at Phoenix works about as well as the lights at Phoenix.

Props to Denny Hamlin, who managed to climb out of a hole in the desert so deep that Nik Wallenda’s gonna tightrope walk over it next week during primetime.

Newman will definitely be attending the NASCAR Championship Banquet in Las Vegas, so no matter what happens at Homestead, he’ll get to experience one Wynn this year.

(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own – but chances are you have probably figured that out by now.)

NASCAR NUMBERS

By Reid Spencer­

2,083: Laps led by Kevin Harvick through the first 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this year, far and away a career best. Harvick added 264 laps to his total on Sunday in winning the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, his fourth victory of the season.

41: The number of laps led this season by Ryan Newman, who dive-bombed his way into NASCAR’s Championship Round with a dramatic pass of Kyle Larson on the final lap at Phoenix. If Newman can lead the final lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway, however, he’ll be the new series champion.

1: In championship points, the margin by which Jeff Gordon, Sunday’s race runner-up, missed qualifying for the season finale at Homestead. Gordon was eliminated by Newman’s desperation pass, but the real damage occurred a week earlier, when Brad Keselowski’s late-race contact with Gordon’s car at Texas cut Gordon’s tire and dropped him to 29th at the finish.

13: The position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings of six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who suffered his fourth DNF of the season on Sunday at Phoenix. In his 12 previous full-time seasons, Johnson has never finished lower than sixth in the final standings.

11: The number of races this season that Kevin Harvick finished higher than Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman – the highest of the Championship 4. Comparatively, Logano was the highest finisher of the four in 10 races; Hamlin in eight and Newman in six.

NASCAR NOTES

Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix Sunday to earn one of the four berths in this weekend’s Championship 4 Round race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will be joined by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman, who all qualified for The Championship 4 Round by accumulating the most points in the Eliminator Round. None of the four drivers have ever captured an NSCS crown, guaranteeing a first-time champion this Sunday. … After going winless in the first 35 races of 2013, Denny Hamlin captured the checkered flag in the season finale at Homestead to salvage his streak of notching at least one victory in each of his first eight full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaigns. The stakes are higher for the No. 11 FedEx driver in Miami this weekend. If Hamlin wins at Homestead, or just finishes ahead of Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman, he will become the NSCS champion. … All season, Joey Logano has dominated 1.5-mile tracks. Luckily for him, he gets to race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. In nine starts at 1.5-mile courses this season, Logano claims two wins and leads all drivers with a 5.8 average finish, as well six top-five performances. Logano’s previous best finish at Homestead was an eighth-place showing last year – his first campaign with Team Penske.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, Nov. 10 – Nov. 16

Monday, November 10

4:30 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., The 10: NASCAR’s Greatest Races, FOX Sports 2

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Tuesday, November 11

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., The 10: NASCAR’s Greatest Finishes (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Wednesday, November 12

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

4:30 p.m., NASCAR America: Celebrate the States (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Chase Championship Special, FOX Sports 1

6 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

7:30 p.m., The 10: Greatest Comebacks in NASCAR History (re-air), FOX Sports 2

8 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Chase Championship Special (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Thursday, November 13

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., The 10: Biggest Bonehead Moves (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

8 p.m., The 10: NASCAR’s Greatest Finishes, FOX Sports 2

8:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Friday, November 14                                           

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

11:30 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

2 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

2:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

4 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

6 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

7:30 p.m., NCWTS SetUp, FOX Sports 1

8 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Homestead-Miami, FOX Sports 1

10 p.m., NASCAR America Homestead Special, NBC Sports Network

12 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR America Homestead Special (re-air), NBC Sports Network

Saturday, November 15

4 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Homestead-Miami (re-air), FOX Sports 1

7 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Homestead-Miami (re-air), FOX Sports 2

10:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

2:30 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 2

4 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Countdown, ESPN2

4:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Homestead-Miami, ESPN2

Sunday, November 16

10 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Phoenix (tape), FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, ESPN

3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Homestead-Miami, ESPN

7:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

1 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Homestead-Miami (re-air), ESPN2

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 400

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date/Time: Sunday, Nov. 16, 3 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date/Time: Saturday, Nov. 15, 4:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 200

The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

Date/Time: Friday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR National Series Standings

Four drivers remain in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Eliminator Round cutoff race at Phoenix.

The first to finish among the Championship 4 in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will take the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crown.

Following Phoenix, the four championship-qualifying drivers lowest in points and without an Eliminator Round win were knocked out of the Chase.

Drivers eliminated at any point in the Chase can still finish fifth-16th. Once out of the Chase, a driver’s points total is reset to 2,000 (plus any bonus points from regular season wins) and his points accumulated during Chase races are added.

Chase Standings
Pos     Driver                     Points

1        Denny Hamlin         5,000

2        Joey Logano            5,000

3        Ryan Newman         5,000

4        Kevin Harvick          5,000

  1. Brad Keselowski     2,320
  2. Jeff Gordon             2,312
  3. Matt Kenseth          2,296
  4. Kyle Busch               2,280
  5. Carl Edwards           2,278
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  2,271

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos        Driver                 Points

1      Chase Elliott #*         1,185

2      Regan Smith               1,133

3      Brian Scott                 1,120

4      Elliott Sadler              1,119

5      Ty Dillon #                  1,111

6      Trevor Bayne             1,052

7      Chris Buescher #          975

8      Brendan Gaughan        939

9      Ryan Reed #                  872

10   Dylan Kwasniewski #   842

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos    Driver                      Points

1        Matt Crafton               798

2        Ryan Blaney                773

3        Darrell Wallace Jr.     752

4        Johnny Sauter             739

5        Timothy Peters           705

6        Joey Coulter                659

7        German Quiroga        654

8        Ben Kennedy #           648

9        Jeb Burton                   652

10     Mason Mingus #         535

# Rookie

* 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion

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