The Chase isn’t the only NASCAR championship up for grabs as the season heads into its final two weeks. The Xfinity and Truck series also wrap things up this weekend in Phoenix and next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here’s how the title races shape up in those two series:
How it stands: Chris Buescher of Prosper leads defending champion Chase Elliott by 24 points, Ty Dillon by 30 and Regan Smith by 31. Nobody else is close (Elliott Sadler is in fifth place, trailing Buescher by 118 points).
Where it’s headed: Buescher, who hasn’t won since Dover in June, has admitted to racing for points recently. That’s been effective. He’s held the points lead for 22 consecutive races. Working against Elliott, Dillon and Smith is the continuing presence of Sprint Cup regulars in Xfinity races. The past three winners have been Cup drivers — Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon. Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon finished 1-2-3 at Texas last week.
How it will end: Buescher has never been particularly strong at Phoenix and was fifth at Homestead last season. But he will stay close enough to the front over these next two races to win his first title.
How it stands: Rookie Erik Jones extended his lead over defending champion Matt Crafton to 17 points with a victory last week at Texas. Tyler Reddick is four behind Crafton.
Where it’s headed: Jones, 19, has his hands full again this week at Phoenix, where he will compete in all three races (he’s filling in again for Matt Kenseth in the Cup race and is entered in the Xfinity race). But he handled all that well at Texas, winning the Truck race, finishing fourth in the Xfinity race and 12th in his second career Cup race. Crafton won at Martinsville two weeks ago and was on the pole at Texas, where he finished fourth.
How it will end: Jones has kept Crafton and Reddick at bay since taking the points lead seven races ago. Time has just about run out for them to catch Jones.
Quicken Loans 500
2:30 p.m. Sunday, Avondale, Ariz.
Track: Phoenix International Raceway, a 1-mile oval.
Distance: 312 laps/312 miles.
TV: KXAS/5. (Friday: Practice, 1 p.m.; qualifying, 5:45 p.m., NBCSN. Saturday: Practice, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., NBCSN)
DAV 200: Xfinity Series, Avondale, Ariz., 3 p.m., Saturday, NBCSN.
Lucas Oil 150: Truck Series, Avondale, Ariz., 7:30 p.m., Friday, FS1.
Auto Club Finals: NHRA, Auto Club Raceway, Pomona, Calif., 8 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2 (taped)
Brazilian Grand Prix: Formula One, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 8:30 a.m. Sunday, NBCSN
Worth mentioning: Jeff Gordon is the only Chase driver who has clinched a spot in the Chase championship round next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Who’s hot/ Who’s not
Jimmie Johnson: Reminded the racing world he’s still around with victory at Texas.
Kevin Harvick: Third-place finish at Texas sets Harvick up for key race at Phoenix, his favorite track.
Erik Jones: Had success despite a busy weekend at Texas, winning Truck race, finishing fourth in Xfinity race and 12th in Cup. He’ll pull triple duty again at Phoenix.
Brad Keselowski: Was all or nothing at Texas, dominating race but came up short to Johnson. With a win and he would have been in the championship round; instead he’s sixth in points.
Joey Logano: Keselowski’s teammate blows tire early at Texas. All of a sudden he goes from being known as “sliced bread” to nearly toast.