There’s been a much different vibe to this season in the Xfinity and Truck series, the two lower-level national series in NASCAR. That’s because they’ve adopted the Chase playoff format similar to the Cup series. Like Cup, both series have just one race remaining – this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway – before the four-driver championship round on Nov. 18 (Trucks) and Nov. 19 (Xfinity) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here’s how the title races shape up in those two divisions:
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Chase grid: 1. Daniel Suarez; 2. Elliott Sadler; 3. Erik Jones; 4. Blake Koch; 5. Justin Allgaier; 6. Ryan Reed; 7. Darrell Wallace Jr.; 8. Brendan Gaughan.
Who’s already in: Nobody. Both of the Xfinity’s semifinal races have been won by Cup regulars – Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. That means none of the six drivers still in contention have clinched a spot at Homestead.
What happens: More Cup drivers will be in the Xfinity race at Phoenix – a practice that will end in 2017 for Chase races. This time, however, an Xfinity Chase driver will win (Jones? Sadler?). That will lead to a Homestead race – without Cup drivers – where Jones, who is headed for Cup next season, will win the title.
Chase grid: 1. Johnny Sauter; 2. William Byron; 3. Christopher Bell; 4. Matt Crafton; 5. Timothy Peters; 6. Ben Kennedy.
Who’s already in: Sauter has been dominant in the semifinals, winning both races – at Martinsville and Texas.
What happens: Charlotte’s Byron has won a rookie-record six races and Crafton is the reigning champion. It figures that both of them – either on points or by one of them winning at Phoenix – will make it to Homestead. Then Crafton, who’s been there and done that, will take the title.