The Championship 4 field in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series will be set this weekend at ISM Raceway.
All three of NASCAR’s top tiers will be in action this weekend at the one-mile desert track with a number of drivers trying to race their way into the season finale races at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will determine this year’s champions.
Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 (MRN, 1:30 p.m. ET) is the final race in the Round of 8 for the Cup Series with Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick already locked into the Championship 4 after their respective wins at Martinsville and Texas. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are above the cutline heading to Phoenix with Denny Hamlin (-20), Ryan Blaney (-23), Kyle Larson (-23) and Chase Elliott (-78) the bottom four on the Playoff grid.
“It’s just all eyes on Phoenix,” Elliott said after his early exit in a crash at Texas last week. “It’s our last shot, so we’ll treat it as if so.”
Hamlin suffered a 44 point swing in Texas going into the race 24 points to the good and leaving 20 below the cutline after he spun out and finished 28th.
“Did the best we could and we’ll go to Phoenix and try to win,” he said after his frustrating Texas race. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we can go there and win. In these circumstances, I like the challenge. We’re going to go out there and give it our best shot and put our best foot forward and see if we can’t get a win.”
Kyle Busch has won the last two races at ISM.
In the Xfinity Series, Christopher Bell won at Texas last weekend to secure his spot in the Championship 4.
Cole Custer is second in the Playoff Grid, 52 points ahead of the cutline going into Saturday’s Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 (MRN, 3 p.m. ET).
“52 points is a great gap as we head into this weekend but it’s not something we can be comfortable with,” Custer said. “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.”
Tyler Reddick is 36 above the line and Justin Allgaier 18 ahead in the final transfer spot. Chase Brisoce (-18), Michael Annett (-28), Austin Cindric (-31) and Noah Gragson (-47) are all below the cutline heading into the weekend.
“We all know what is at stake this weekend and know what we need to do,” Gragson said. “This group never gives up and we will keep fighting until the end. We just need to go out there and give it everything we’ve got.”
The weekend kicks off with Friday night’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 (MRN, 8 p.m. ET). Brett Moffitt (+45), Stewart Friesen (+35), Ross Chastain (+20) and Austin Hill (+9) are the four drivers ahead of the cutline with Matt Crafton (-9) and Tyler Ankrum (-15) still hoping to secure a berth in Homestead.
“With us 15 points outside the cutoff line, we are going to have to points race to make it to Homestead,” explained Ankrum. “We’ve been putting together solid races all year, and I think we will be alright. I have a lot of faith in myself and my team — I really believe that we will be competing for a championship at Homestead.”
Motor Racing Network will also broadcast Saturday’s K&N Pro Series West season finale Arizona Lottery 100 starting at 6 p.m. ET. All Derek Kraus has to do is take the green flag to clinch his first Pro Series West championship.