NASCAR Preview – Phoenix Can-Am 500 Determines Championship Four
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
There is one more race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule before the season-ending Championship race at Homestead and it’s shaping up to be big! This weekend the Cup Series heads to Phoenix for the final race of round three with four of eight Championship-eligible drivers cut from the field. That leaves the final four drivers ready to battle for the crown.
As can be expected, the names that have dominated the win list this season are riding the top of the leaderboard heading into the race weekend but there has been a speed bump added into the mix. Kevin Harvick (+175) was busted after his win in Texas with an illegal car. The issue showed up during a detailed inspection of his No. 4 Ford at the NASCAR R&D Center.
What’s important to note is that Harvick was not along. The second-place finisher at Texas last week, Ryan Blaney (+2200), was also handed an L1 penalty. Blaney was already eliminated from the Championship race but Harvick was still in the mix, and at the top. Now, with points being taken away he’s moved down. This could have a huge impact on which four of eight drivers survive the cut following the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix.
Regardless of how things turn out, Harvick can still win this weekend and be one of the final four eligible drivers. And, he can make the cut by winning stages Sunday and collecting points. Here are the top-five favored drivers according to intertops.
Martin Truex Jr
Odds for Winning the Cup Series Championship
It’s a great time to look at the odds for winning the Cup Series Championship with only the Phoenix race left before Homestead. Here’s how the final eight drivers look for oddsmakers before Sunday. The list will narrow to four after half of the remaining eight are cut Sunday afternoon.
Martin Truex Jr
The top-four favored drivers to win the Cup Series Championship outright listed above are also the top-four in points. Harvick dropped to being only three points above the cut-line following his L1 penalty. Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, and Clint Bowyer are all below the cut-line heading into Phoenix.
Here’s how all the remaining drivers stack up against each other heading into Sunday’s race. This list ranks the drivers by points but also includes manufacture, a total number of wins this season along with how many top-five finishes they’ve had this year.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Joey Logano
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kurt Busch
6. Chase Elliott
7. Aric Almirola
8. Clint Bowyer
In case you’re new to NASCAR, the sanctioning body performs pre and post-race inspections of each car. And, the winning car, along with two other cars, are shipped back for closer inspection. So, Harvick was hit with an L1 Penalty and stripped of a bunch of points. For the record, NASCAR has two L penalties – L1 and L2. Here’s how they are different.
L1 penalties are for minimum heights and weights, the Laser Inspection Station, gear ratios, lug nut violations. Penalties are 10-40 point deduction, crew chief suspension for 1-3 races, plus a fine up to $75,000.
L2 penalties cover tampering with tires, engine, and fuel. Major safety violations, telemetry or traction control, and violations of NASCAR’s testing policy. Penalties are a 75-point deduction, a 4-6 race suspension, and a fine up to $200,000.
NASCAR Weekend Viewing Guide:
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, The Xfinity Series, and The Camping World Truck Series are all racing at Phoenix this weekend. All three series will have their Championship drivers set for Homestead following this race weekend at Phoenix.
Friday, November 9
• 10:30 a.m., Truck Series practice, FS2 • Noon: Truck Series final practice, FS2 • 1:30 p.m., Cup Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 2:30 p.m., Xfinity Series practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 4:30 p.m., Xfinity Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 5:30 p.m., Truck Series qualifying, FS1 • 7 p.m., Cup Series Busch Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 8 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, FS1 • RACE - 8:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150, FS1
Saturday, November 10
• 11:30 a.m., Cup Series practice, CNBC/NBC Sports App • 12:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 2 p.m., Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App • 3 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Countdown to Green, NBC/NBC Sports App • RACE - 3:30 p.m., NASCAR Xfinity Series Whelen Trusted to Perform 200, NBC/NBC Sports App
Sunday, November 11
• RACE - 2:20 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500, NBC/NBC Sports App