Pete Pistone distributes this week’s checkered and black flags following the weekend of racing at ISM Raceway.
Not quite a walk off but pretty darn close. Hamlin basically had to win Sunday to keep his championship hopes alive coming into the weekend 20 points below the cutline. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver delivered in a big way with win number six of a season to secure a berth in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The only driver in the Championship 4 who didn’t win his way in during the Round of 8 but Busch is still in the picture for a second career Cup title. He finished second behind teammate Hamlin Sunday for the sixth JGR 1-2 finish of the season.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Speaking of JGR, the organization has three-quarters of the championship field covered next week at Homestead with Hamlin, Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The odds are definitely in favor of Coach Joe Gibbs hoisting another Cup Series championship trophy with that trio of drivers.
The Xfinity Series "Big 3" of Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick relatively easily made it to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami. Allgaier secured his spot in a timely manner with his first win of the season on Saturday. The JR Motorsports driver now has a chance to rise up against the dominant trio next week and steal the crown.
It didn’t look good at the start of the race for Friesen who was penalized for jumping the start of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. But Friesen was fired up by the challenge and roared back to take the checkered flag and now he’ll have a chance to win the title at next week’s Championship 4.
For the third straight year there will not be a Chevrolet in this year’s Cup Series Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s another bitter pill for the Bowtie Brigade to swallow with Toyota taking up three spots and Ford occupying the other.
His Round of 8 couldn’t have gone worse. Elliott ended his title hopes in the same fashion that has bestowed the Hendrick Motorsports driver the entire round. A cut tire and crash into the wall on lap 165 ended Elliott’s day and championship aspirations.
There will not be a repeat champion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after Logano missed his chance to advance to the Championship 4. Logano finished ninth on Sunday and fell seven points below the cutline.
Two third-place finishes at ISM Raceway this year for Blaney but Sunday’s was not enough to keep him in the championship race. When Denny Hamlin got by Blaney on the final restart it was over for the Team Penske driver who slid back to third and missed advancing to the title race.
The Chip Ganassi racing driver also came up short of making it to the Championship 4 in next week’s Ford EcoBoost 400. Despite finishing in the top 10 over the last three Phoenix races, Larson’s run on Sunday was not good enough for him to have a shot to run for this year’s title.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.