Who will earn the final two spots during Sunday’s semifinals in Martinsville?
PHOENIX (Oct. 23, 2023) – Christopher Bell is a 28-year-old who knows how to get it done in crunch time. On Sunday, he took the checkered flag after a late-race battle with Ryan Blaney and William Byron at Homestead-Miami Speedway and earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4. He’ll be eligible to win the 2023 title alongside Kyle Larson and two other drivers to be determined during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race on Sunday, Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway.
The final two spots will be determined this Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the Xfinity 500 (11 a.m. MST, NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bell, who drives the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry TRD, finished one spot better than his outing last week at Las Vegas and secured his second consecutive Championship 4 berth after rallying back from a race-low 25th position and almost going a lap down at the end of Stage 2. But he ultimately credited his team for putting him back up front in the closing laps of the race.
“I’ve got the best team behind me, honestly I don’t know how we did it, that race was a whirlwind,” Bell said. “I was about ready to throw the towel in during that second stage, I got really frustrated. But Adam Stevens kept after it and gave me what I needed. Whenever we got some clean air, this thing was really good.”
“We were trying, we just needed laps,” said Ryan Blaney after a runner-up finish on Sunday. “The long-run car was really good. I just couldn’t fire off for 10 laps or so.”
Blaney, who started 10th and led 53 laps, seemingly had the car to beat until Larson brought out the caution on lap 213 and subsequential red flag after ramming into the sand barriers at the entrance of pit-road. Larson was following Blaney on to pit-road under the green but carried too much speed on his approach and jerked into the barrels trying to avoid Blaney’s car.
While he didn’t capture the win, Blaney leaves Homestead 10 points above the playoff elimination line compared to being 17 below heading in.
“I am proud of the effort. It was a really good day, we just got beat a little bit there at the end,” he said.
Larson was not the only favorited playoff driver that had their day end early. Both Denny Hamlin and Regular Season Champion Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing did not finish the race after Hamlin slammed into the Turn 1 wall and brought out the caution on lap 235. Just a few laps later, Truex radioed his team saying he “might be blowing up” and came down pit road where he eventually joined his teammate in the garage with an engine failure. Now, both drivers who came into Homestead above the elimination line sit below it after Sunday.
The Cup Series Playoff Standings after the 4Ever 400 presented by Mobil1 are as follows:
|Rank||Driver||+ / – Cutoff|
|1||Kyle Larson (P)||*WIN*|
|2||Christopher Bell (P)||*WIN*|
|3||William Byron (P)||+30|
|4||Ryan Blaney. (P)||+10|
|5||Tyler Reddick (P)||-10|
|6||Martin Truex Jr. (P)||-17|
|7||Denny Hamlin (P)||-17|
|8||Chris Buescher (P)||-43|
NASCAR Xfinity Series Update
The Contender Boats 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway saw JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer earning his first-career oval victory on Saturday and his fourth total win on the season and his career. Mayer now becomes the first NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Driver to secure his shot for a championship at Phoenix. His teammate and championship-favorite Justin Allgaier did not find nearly as much success after a hard-fought 15th place finish. He now sits three points below the elimination line after starting the day 21 points above.
The Xfinity Series Playoff Standings after the Contender Boats 300 are as follows:
|Rank||Driver||+ / – Cutoff|
|1||Sam Mayer (P)||*WIN*|
|2||John Hunter Nemechek (P)||+44|
|3||Cole Custer (P)||+3|
|4||Austin Hill (P)||+3|
|5||Justin Allgaier (P)||-3|
|6||Sammy Smith (P)||-49|
|7||Chandler Smith (P)||-54|
|8||Sheldon Creed (P)||-65|
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Update
The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series set its Championship 4 lineup earlier on Saturday after Niece Motorsports’ Carson Hocevar took the checkered flag in the Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hocevar earned his series-best fourth win after fighting off Zane Smith who was in a must-win situation to advance to the Championship. Smith, who originally finished second, was disqualified after post-race inspection found his No. 38 car used an unapproved windshield support. This resulted in Ben Rhodes gaining one spot more on the day which helped point his way into the Championship 4. He joins race-winner Carson Hocevar, Regular Season Champion Corey Heim, and Grant Enfinger to race for a title at Phoenix.
The CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff Standings after the Baptist Health Cancer Care 200 are as follows:
|Rank||Driver||+ / – Cutoff|
|1||Corey Heim (P)||*ADVANCED*|
|2||Carson Hocevar (P)||*ADVANCED*|
|3||Ben Rhodes (P)||*ADVANCED*|
|4||Grant Enfinger (P)||*ADVANCED*|
|5||Christian Eckes (P)||*ELIMINATED*|
|6||Nick Sanchez (P)||*ELIMINATED*|
|7||Zane Smith (P)||*ELIMINATED*|
|8||Ty Majeski (P)||*ELIMINATED*|
While the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series is off this week, the Cup and Xfinity Series head to the 0.5-mile paperclip-shaped oval of Martinsville Speedway as playoff drivers will have one final shot at securing their chance to race for a title. Racing begins on Saturday, Oct. 28, when the NASCAR Xfinity Series caps off the Round of 8 in the Dead On Tools 250 at 12:30 p.m. MST. Then, the NASCAR Cup Series will narrow down their playoff field from eight drivers to four in the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. MST.
NASCAR Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Nov. 3-5
Only a limited number of tickets remain available for the 2023 NASCAR Championship Weekend, Nov. 3-5. The action on Friday, Nov. 3, includes the ARCA Menards Series West championship race, the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 100, and the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Championship Race. On Saturday, Nov. 4, the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race caps a day that also includes NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying.
And then on Sunday, Nov. 5, following a pre-race concert by Diplo presents Thomas Wesley, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race will close the season in exciting fashion. Grandstand seats sold out for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race in June, but a select number of infield general admission and FanShield Infield Experience tickets remain. Grandstand seats are also going fast for Friday and Saturday’s action, so fans are encouraged to visit www.phoenixraceway.com to secure their seats while supplies last.
About Phoenix Raceway
Home to NASCAR Championship Weekend since 2020, Phoenix Raceway has been the premier motorsports venue in the Southwest since 1964 and hosts two NASCAR race weekends each year. In 2023, the spring event weekend, March 10-12, kicks off the race season at Phoenix Raceway and features the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series. Phoenix Raceway will once again host NASCAR Championship Weekend, November 3-5. During the action-packed, three-day event, champions will be crowned in the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series West. Phoenix Raceway also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, corporate meetings and conferences, charity events, weddings, holiday events, sport and endurance competitions, and driving schools. For more information, visit www.PhoenixRaceway.com and download the new NASCAR Tracks App at www.phoenixraceway.com/nascar-tracks-app/.
Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR sanctions races in three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series™), four international series (NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race, NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series (Canada), NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) and a local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races annually in 12 countries and more than 30 U.S. states. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).