Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Denny Hamlin is 3/1 to win 2019 Ford Ecoboost 400

Denny Hamlin has won twice at Homestead.
Denny Hamlin
#11 FedEx Express Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Race Info:

Race: Ford EcoBoost 400
Date/Time: Sunday, Nov. 17/ 3:00 p.m. ET
Race Distance: 267 laps/400.5 miles
Track Shape: Oval
Track Length: 1.5 miles
Banking: 18-20 degrees
2018 Winner: Joey Logano

Express Notes:

Phoenix Recap:
Denny Hamlin dominated Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway to clinch a berth in next weekend’s championship finale in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin survived a late-race restart with three laps to go to capture his sixth victory of the season, crossing the finish line 0.377-seconds ahead of teammate Kyle Busch. Hamlin and Busch will race Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick for the championship next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hamlin started third and worked his way to the lead at the end of Stage 1 to take the segment win. He was battling Busch and Joey Logano in points for the final Playoff transfer spots, and with both competitors earning stage points, Hamlin knew he had to win to advance. He finished second in Stage 2 and then lined up in that position alongside Logano for the final segment. Hamlin passed Logano on Lap 177 and opened up more than a 10-second lead on the field during a long green flag run. A late-race caution set up the final dash to the finish line. Hamlin now has six wins and 19 top-five finishes in 35 races this season.

Homestead Preview: The Series heads south for the final race of the 2019 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway where Denny Hamlin will be among the Championship 4 drivers competing for the Cup series trophy. Hamlin is a two-time winner at Homestead and is hoping to cap off an impressive season with his first-ever championship. In his last visit to Homestead, Hamlin qualified on the pole and went on to finish 12th.

Hamlin Statistics:
Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Races: 14
Wins: 2
Poles: 3
Top-5: 4
Top-10: 9
Laps Led: 254
Avg. Start: 19.9
Avg. Finish: 10.6

Hamlin Conversation – Homestead:

You’re coming off an impressive win at Phoenix and now getting ready for the championship race at Homestead. What can we expect from you and your team in Miami this weekend?


“The FedEx team brought me such a fast car in Phoenix. We know what we are capable of, and we showed that at ISM Raceway. Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) had these guys ready to go, and I just had to do my job. I’m excited for the opportunity in Miami to bring home a championship for our team and for FedEx.”

How do you plan to prepare for the final race of the season at Homestead?


“I know that this team will be ready for Sunday at Homestead. We have had a lot of success there in the past, and I know our FedEx team is up for another challenge. We just need to stay focused and continue to work like we’ve done all season long and good things will happen.”

FedEx Express Along for the Ride at Homestead: As the NASCAR season comes to a close and the championship title is determined, FedEx Express is recognizing the hard work and dedication of its everyday champions in the South Florida market by having the letters “SFL” on the B-post of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota at Homestead-Miami Speedway. FedEx Express thanks them for riding along with them during the 2019 season.

Kyle Busch is 14/5 to win 2019 Ford Ecoboost 400

KYLE BUSCH
To the Victor Go the Spoils

Kyle Busch is co-favorite to win championship.
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Nov. 12, 2019) – The current elimination format of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is down to the final weekend of its sixth season, and one thing has been clear during the format’s first five seasons of finales – to the victor go the spoils.

While the rules state that simply the highest-finisher among the four championship-eligible drivers Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway will win this year’s title, it’s been proven thus far it’s about more than being the highest finisher, it’s a must-win situation. Joey Logano was the latest to win the finale at Homestead last season to clinch his first career championship. The winner-take-all scenario rang true as right behind the victorious Logano was fellow Championship 4 contender Martin Truex Jr. in the runner-up spot.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is a five-time race winner in 2019 and once again among this weekend’s Championship 4, accomplished the same feat in 2015 when he won the 400-mile season finale at Homestead to bring home his first Cup Series championship.

Busch knows the task of winning at Homestead is a big one as he’ll compete primarily against JGR equipment with teammates Truex and Denny Hamlin also vying for the title Sunday. Kevin Harvick, the 2014 series champion, will be the lone driver from outside the JGR fold who will vie for the title in the one-race shootout for the Cup Series championship trophy Sunday afternoon in South Florida. Through this season’s first 35 races, Truex has finished best among the four title contenders 12 times, Busch 10 times, Hamlin seven times and Harvick six times.

With three top-five finishes through this year’s nine playoff races, Busch knows he’ll likely need to find one more victory in order to become the 2019 Cup Series champion and bring home his second title. There have been 15 NASCAR Cup Series drivers who have won two or more championships since the sport was founded in 1959. Not only is Busch hoping to become the 16th on Sunday, so is Truex and Harvick.

While Busch’s average finish of 17.4 at Homestead may not be his best, he has become strong and consistent on the 1.5-mile oval the past four seasons, bringing home three top-fives and four top-10s. His most impressive race at Homestead, of course, was his 2015 championship-winning effort, when he led six times for a total of 41 laps in the 400-mile race.

So, as Busch heads to South Florida with everything on the line Sunday, the M&M’S driver and his team will most certainly be in must-win mode as it’s proven to be the only way to guarantee their second Cup Series championship and their membership in the multi-series championship club.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
This is the first time a team has three drivers in the Championship 4. How are you going to handle this week?  Will you treat each other, share info, differently than you normally do?

“We’ve done that in the past with Carl (Edwards) and myself. I wouldn’t imagine it would be any different now. It’s just a matter of all of us doing what we do throughout the week for preparation and everything, getting down there. Last year Martin (Truex Jr.) and myself were in. I guess he wasn’t really a teammate, but in reality they kind of still were. We worked together all the way to Sunday. They were really, really fast and better than us. Same with Carl. He was fast that year. Then in ’17, when (Truex) won, we were really fast, just didn’t have track position. I think Denny (Hamlin) said it best in the piece that we did for FOX last week, which was, once you start to kind of hold back anything, then that just can kind of snowball and be bad for everybody. I agree with him on that.”

How do you go to Miami and do what this team hasn’t been able to do in the last 21 races?

“Yeah, thanks for the reminder. Fight as hard as we can, do the best job we can, exactly what we did Sunday (at Phoenix) – we just weren’t good enough (to win). This week, we’ll just have to make sure that we are. Somehow, some way, if it works out, it was meant to be with our M&M’S Camry. If it doesn’t, then it’s not. Hopefully the sun will come up for another day.”

How big is it to have a chance to win another championship?

“It’s huge. It’s our opportunity to succeed and you know God’s given us every opportunity to go do that. Joe, Coy Gibbs, everybody on this Joe Gibbs Racing team, they’re phenomenal and I know we’ll all be trying our best remembering J.D. (Gibbs) and his legacy. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys had great racecars for me all season long and especially the last several weeks. We just haven’t gotten into victory lane. That’s what it’s likely going to take to win the championship on Sunday, so we’ll see if we can get it done.”

How does it feel to be able to go and race for a championship at Homestead for a fifth year in a row?

“It’s obviously a great opportunity to be able to go race for a championship, and that’s what this format is. It doesn’t mean a whole lot to make it to the Championship 4 if you don’t win it. You know, it’s all reset to zero. There are four of us who go for winner-take-all at Homestead. It means a lot to have that opportunity, not only for myself, but for M&M’S, Toyota, Interstate Batteries and everyone at JGR who helps us to be as good as we’ve been. It’s what your whole season comes down to. I’m looking forward to Homestead and we’ll see if we can bring home another championship.”

From your recent experience, how has Homestead changed over the last several years?

“The track seems to have aged a little more and maybe the tire compound could use a little bit of help to be better there, just because we’ve run the same one, I think now, three or four years. The tire compound is fine – it’s not that big of a deal. Definitely a lot of grip for the first few laps, and then it really tapers off and then everybody is running up next to the fence. I think that’s what we saw in years past. As it did get darker, the track seemed to widen out. It’s just during the day, when it’s hot out and it’s slick out, that the best you can do is run right next to the wall. As the nighttime comes, you can start moving around a little bit more. It’s definitely still a racey joint, but track temperatures are very conducive to that. Our M&M’S Camry was pretty good the last couple of years, but we would like to be able to go back to Homestead and do what we did there in 2015.”


Kevin Harvick is 3/1 to win at Homestead

KEVIN HARVICK
‘So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance …’

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Nov. 12, 2019) – What started on Feb. 10, 2019 with the Advance Auto Parts Clash non-points race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway will now end with Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

A wise person once said, “It’s over, already?”

Indeed it is ending after 10 months, 36 points-paying Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races – and don’t forget the two exhibition races – with the season finale in South Florida. And Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is once again in the Championship 4 and has a shot at his second title.

It’s Harvick against the world – or Joe Gibbs Racing, at least – as the other three contestants in Sunday’s winner-take-all championship race are Gibbs teammates Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Denny Hamlin. Truex has seven wins in 2019, Busch has four and Hamlin six. So, it’s Gibbs 17 victories versus Harvick’s four.

Fortunately, previous victories don’t count and whoever among the four finishes the highest will win the championship. And, let’s be honest, getting there is half the battle because, as said by Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas in the smash hit Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance …”

Harvick has been in the Championship 4 five times in the last six years, more than any other driver except Busch, who is in his fifth consecutive Championship 4. Harvick won the title in 2014, his first year with SHR, and finished second in 2015 and third in 2017 and 2018. Should he win the title, he would become just the 16th driver to win two or more championships.

Some drivers get nervous or anxious during these championship runs. Harvick lives for them. The more pressure the better because he’s been involved in the top three tiers of NASCAR racing since 1995 and has won 110 races, including 49 it the Cup Series.

Harvick has one win, one pole, 10 top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and has led a total of 373 laps in his 18 career Cup Series starts at Homestead. His average start there is 12.3, his average finish is 6.6, and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.9 percent – 4,811 of 4,812 laps available. His last finish outside the top-10 was a 19th in November 2007, one of his only two finishes outside the top-10.

He won the November 2006 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead, as well as the Xfinity race pole in November 2004. He has five top-10s in eight career Xfinity starts.And in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series,Harvick has raced at Homestead six times and won the November 2009 race among his four top-five finishes in six Truck races there.

So here we go. It’s why drivers race for 10 months out of the year throughout 36 points-paying events – to win championships. And Harvick has that chance.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

Are there aspects of your team you are trying to shore up heading into Homestead or are you just rolling with what you have?

“I think it’s been a very interesting year for us. I think as you look at our year, it’s been a challenge in order to get where we are today, just to battle through the beginning of the year and get the ship turned around and in the right direction and really figure out exactly where we needed to be, what we needed to be doing. (They’re) just totally different concepts than the things we’ve done in the past and just those new concepts and mindsets, the way you race, the way you call a race, all those things that come together. I think the strength and experience of our race team has kind of carried the results that are in the finish column and the stages won and stage points and those types of things. As we went through the late summer and in the playoffs, I feel like we obviously have got our cars back to being competitive and, when I say competitive, I mean able to lead laps without circumstances, and so we’ve been able to do that. And as long as we keep doing those types of things this week, I think you’ve got to be in it to win it and just have to see how it falls.”

Did the win at Texas free you up to do that or would you still have done that?

“It would have been the same because that’s just how I guess we’re wired. You have to think about what you’re doing a long ways in advance. It’s from scheduling from a car’s standpoint with less cars next year, the types of racetracks, simulators, all those things have a schedule that’s attached to them. For me and my team, it’s not something you want to try to do six weeks in advance. It’s a process to try to get the most out of everything you do and have some sort of organization and thought around it in order to go to the simulator and try to make it relevant to what you do at the racetrack, and then your simulation and your aero maps and all those things that come with the things you do. The race still has the same meaning and we’re still gonna approach it the exact same way that we would have if we hadn’t have won, just because of the fact that it’s just what we do every week, and I know you guys have heard me say that we don’t prepare any different whether we win or lose. We might do things differently to the car as far as setups and the way they’re built and things like that, but the conversations and preparation are gonna happen on the same days at the same time and you can’t do the type of preparation you would do for a championship race like this next year overnight, so you have to have a plan.”

Is there any internal pressure on you to keep performing at this level?

“I think the competitive side of me would tell you yes, just because I don’t really want to race for 20th, and that challenge of the things we went through this year is definitely somewhat interesting to me because of the fact you have to really get in there with your guys and be a part of the process and routine of things in order to change something. It’s been challenging, but it’s also been a little intriguing to me just because of the fact you want to try to fix things and make them better and I feel like we’ve done a good job at that, but I think for me being competitive is really the thing that keeps me motivated. I love the fact that things change so much that you have to be open-minded to change and I always tell the guys in our trailer that you have to be open-minded in this sport or you’ll get left behind. It’s been fun to win races and be competitive, but it is definitely something that I think about every day. I want to be competitive and, in order to do that, sometimes people pay attention to an age or a stat and I hadn’t looked at a stat or watched a race in I can’t even tell you how long because I’m just worried about what we’re doing and trying to get better and really focused on a week-to-week basis and worry about the rest of it when you get done.”

Does it work in a sense between you and Rodney Childers because you just stay laser focused but don’t worry about other stuff, that you know he’s going to stay on top of everything and all the minutiae and details and all that?

“They expect me to come to the racetrack and be prepared. And the thing about being prepared for me is from a physical standpoint, a mental standpoint, to be as mentally focused as you can. And my age and experience kind of comes into that, I guess you could say sometimes, because you’ve been to some of these racetracks so many times, and I feel like I know the characteristics of the car. But there’s not a day that goes by that he (Rodney) doesn’t send me a text, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this,’ or one of the engineers will send me a text and say, ‘What do you think about this gear ratio or what do you think about whatever.’ One of them is texting me at least once a day, if not multiple times a day, as to what’s going on and what’s happening. Those are those relationships that are constant and steady, and everybody believes in each other because that’s just how it works. It’s never a bad time to text me or it’s never a bad time to call me. It’s never a bad time to ask me to do something. It’s never a bad time. When they need something, I put down what I’m doing and I go and I try to figure out how we’re going to do it and how we’re going to go to the simulator, how we’re going to go to the race shop, if you need me to come to a meeting, just tell me. The priority is these guys and that race team, and the things they need. But I am a thorough believer that the circle of life has to be balanced for you to show up to this racetrack every single week, to be as focused as you need to be to process all of that information and listen to those guys and listen to the things you do and know that I’m just a piece of information that allows them to put the puzzle together. It’s a big puzzle. You throw all the pieces out on the table and those guys put the puzzle together. There’s a deep belief in each other that we can go out and be better than anybody on any given day, and most of the time we can talk ourselves into it even when we probably don’t really have a chance. We can talk ourselves into it and, just by the experience of the things we do and the experience of racing in general and them calling a race, there’s just that belief that we can figure it out.”

Monday, November 11, 2019

Odds to win 2019 Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead

Martin Truex Jr. won 2017 title at Homestead.

WESTGATE LAS VEGAS SUPERBOOK
ODDS TO WIN 2019 FORD ECOBOOST
HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2019 - 3:15 PM ET

Martin TRUEX JR 11/4
Kyle BUSCH 11/4
Kevin HARVICK 3/1
Denny HAMLIN 3/1
Kyle LARSON 8/1
Joey LOGANO 25/1
Brad KESELOWSKI 30/1
Chase ELLIOTT 50/1
Erik JONES 60/1
Kurt BUSCH 60/1
Ryan BLANEY 60/1
Alex BOWMAN 60/1
William BYRON 80/1
Clint BOWYER 100/1
Aric ALMIROLA 200/1
Daniel SUAREZ 200/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 200/1
Ryan NEWMAN 500/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 500/1
Austin DILLON 500/1
Paul MENARD 1000/1
Matt DiBENEDETTO 1000/1
Chris BUESCHER 1000/1
Daniel HEMRIC 5000/1
Ryan PREECE 5000/1
Ty DILLON 5000/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 5000/1
Michael McDOWELL 5000/1
David RAGAN 5000/1
John Hunter NEMECHEK 10000/1
Corey LAJOIE 10000/1
Landon CASSILL 10000/1
Reed SORENSON 10000/1
FIELD (all others) 2000/1

Kevin Harvick Championship 4 Notes

EXHAUST NOTES
Kevin Harvick and No. 4 Busch Light Team Vie for
2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Kevin Harvick is 14/5 to win 2019 Cup Championship.
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (Nov. 11, 2019) – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is competing for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

A NASCAR Cup Series title would be the second for Harvick and the third for SHR since its inception in 2009. SHR won the 2011 Cup Series championship with driver-owner Tony Stewart and Harvick won the team’s second title in 2014.

The following are some anecdotes regarding the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title contender.

TITLE TALLIES:
●  Harvick has eight driving titles in his 38 years of racing. They are as follows:
  • 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship
  • 2006 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
  • 2002 IROC Series championship
  • 2001 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship
  • 1998 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship
  • 1993 Late Model Track championship at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California
  • 1987 International Kart Federation National championship
  • 1985 International Kart Federation National championship
●  No. 4 team crew chief Rodney Childers scored his lone championship as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief in 2014 with Harvick.

●  SHR co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas have three NASCAR championships since joining forces in 2009.
  • 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series owners’ championship with the No. 00 team of Cole Custer
  • 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship with the No. 4 team of Harvick
  • 2011 NASCAR Cup Series championship with the No. 14 team of Stewart
●  Tony Stewart has 29 overall championships as a car owner.
  • 2 NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of SHR:
    • 2014 with Harvick
    • 2011 as a driver/owner
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series owners’ championship as co-owner of SHR:
    • 2018 with No. 00 team
  • 9 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championships as the owner of Tony Stewart Racing:
    • 2018 with Donny Schatz
    • 2017 with Schatz
    • 2016 with Schatz
    • 2015 with Schatz
    • 2014 with Schatz
    • 2012 with Schatz
    • 2009 with Schatz
    • 2008 with Schatz
    • 2001 with Danny Lasoski
  • 14 USAC championships as the owner of Tony Stewart Racing:
    • 2013 USAC Sprint Car championship with Bryan Clauson
    • 2013 USAC Silver Crown championship with Bobby East
    • 2011 USAC Sprint Car championship with Levi Jones
    • 2011 USAC Silver Crown championship with Jones
    • 2010 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
    • 2010 USAC Silver Crown championship with Jones
    • 2008 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
    • 2007 USAC Sprint Car championship with Jones
    • 2006 USAC Sprint Car championship with Josh Wise
    • 2005 USAC Silver Crown championship with J.J. Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
    • 2004 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
    • 2003 USAC Sprint Car championship with Yeley
    • 2003 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
    • 2002 USAC Silver Crown championship with Yeley (Stewart co-owned team with Bob East)
  • 3 UMRA King of the TQ Midget Racing Series championships
    • 2017 with Ron Combs
    • 2015 with Combs
    • 2005 with Combs
CHAMPIONSHIP ANECDOTES:

●  If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the 16th NASCAR Cup Series driver to win two or more championships since the sport was founded in 1948.

●  If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the first driver since SHR co-owner Tony Stewart to win a NASCAR Cup Series title with two different manufacturers. Nine drivers have accomplished the feat.
  • Tim Flock (1952 Hudson; 1955 Chrysler)
  • Lee Petty (1954 Chrysler; 1958 Oldsmobile; 1959 Plymouth)
  • Buck Baker (1956 Chrysler; 1957 Chevrolet)
  • Ned Jarrett (1961 Chevrolet; 1965 Ford)
  • Richard Petty (1964, 1967, 1971-1972 Plymouth; 1974-75 Dodge; 1979 Chevrolet)
  • David Pearson (1966 Dodge; 1968-69 Ford)
  • Cale Yarborough (1976-77 Chevrolet; 1978 Oldsmobile)
  • Darrell Waltrip (1981-82 Buick; 1985 Chevrolet)
  • Tony Stewart (2002 Pontiac; 2005 and 2011 Chevrolet)
●  If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would deliver the 10th driver title to Ford in the NASCAR Cup Series, and its second straight.
  • Ned Jarrett (1965)
  • David Pearson (1968, 1969)
  • Bill Elliott (1988)
  • Alan Kulwicki (1992)
  • Dale Jarrett (1999)
  • Matt Kenseth (2003)
  • Kurt Busch (2004)
  • Joey Logano (2018)
●  If Harvick wins the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series championship, he would become the first driver in NASCAR history to win multiple NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series titles. Harvick won the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series championship and is a two-time Xfinity Series champion (2001 and 2006).

●  Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski are the only drivers to earn both a NASCAR Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.

●  Harvick and Kyle Busch are the only drivers to make the Championship 4 at Homestead five times in the six years since the inception of the winner-take-all format in 2014.

SEASON ANECDOTES:

●  Since joining forces in 2014, Harvick and crew chief Childers have combined to produce 26 victories, 25 poles, 105 top-five finishes and 152 top-10s; led 9,567 laps; and made the Championship 4 five times in the last six years. (They won the 2014 Cup Series title and have finished runner-up twice, to 2015 champion Kyle Busch and to 2018 champion Joey Logano.) Their worst points finish is eighth in 2016.)

●  In 2019 alone, Harvick has claimed four victories, a series-leading six poles, 14 top-fives, 25 top-10s and led 912 laps.

●  Harvick has led laps in 17 of the 35 NASCAR Cup Series races run thus far in 2019. He has led the most laps in six races:
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March (88)
  • Kansas Speedway in May (104)
  • Chicagoland Speedway in June (132)
  • Pocono Raceway in July (62)
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September (118)
  • Texas Motor Speedway in November (119)
●  Harvick is only 88 laps away from tallying 1,000 laps led in 2019. If he leads 88 or more laps at Homestead, it will be the fifth time in his career that Harvick has led 1,000 or more laps in a season – all of which will have come with SHR.

●  Harvick is only seven laps shy of reaching 14,000 career laps led. Should he lead seven or more laps at Homestead, he will become just the 11th driver in Cup Series history – and only the third active driver – to surpass 14,000 laps led in his career.

●  Harvick has scored nine playoff wins since coming to SHR in 2014. He is tied with fellow Championship 4 competitor Martin Truex Jr. for the most playoff wins since the inception of the winner-take-all format in 2014. Harvick’s playoff wins are as follows:
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway (2014)
  • ISM Raceway near Phoenix (2014)
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway (2014)
  • Dover International Speedway (2015)
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2016)
  • Kansas Speedway (2016)
  • Texas Motor Speedway (2017)
  • Texas Motor Speedway (2018)
  • Texas Motor Speedway (2019)
HOMESTEAD ANECDOTES:

●  In 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead, Harvick has a pole (2016), a win (2014), 10 top-fives, 16 top-10s and 373 laps led. His average start at the 1.5-mile oval is 12.3, his average finish is 6.6 and he has completed all but one of the 4,812 laps available.

●  Harvick’s 10 top-fives at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Jimmie Johnson with five top-fives.

●  Harvick’s 16 top-10s at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Jimmie Johnson with 11 top-10s.

●  Harvick’s 373 laps led at Homestead are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Next best is Kyle Busch with 343 laps led.

●  Harvick leads the following loop-data categories at Homestead:
  • Best Average Running Position: 5.6 average finish and an 8.162 average position.
    • Next best is Martin Truex Jr. with a 9.2 average finish and an 8.712 average position.
  • Best Closer: 3.2 average spots gained and a collective gain of 45 positions.
    • Next best is Aric Almirola with 3.8 average spots gained and a collective gain of 34 positions.
  • Best Average Speed Late in a Run: 145.837 mph.
    • Next best is Martin Truex Jr. at 145.581 mph.
  • Laps in Top-15: 3,136
    • Next best is Martin Truex Jr. with 2,959 laps.

About Stewart-Haas Racing:
Stewart-Haas Racing is the title-winning NASCAR team co-owned by three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America. The Kannapolis, North Carolina-based organization fields four entries in the NASCAR Cup Series – the No. 4 Ford Mustang for Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Aric Almirola, the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Daniel Su├írez. The team also competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with two fulltime entries – the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer and the No. 98 Ford Mustang for Chase Briscoe. For more information, please visit us online at www.StewartHaasRacing.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/StewartHaasRacing, on Twitter @StewartHaasRcng and on Instagram @StewartHaasRacing.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Hamlin gets clutch win at Phoenix, qualifies for Championship 4

Denny Hamlin was posted at 5/1 odds to win at Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

NOTES & QUOTES FROM NBC SPORTS’ MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF RACING AT ISM RACEWAY ON NBC

“Denny Hamlin has done it! He’s won his way into the Championship Four!” – Rick Allen
“This year is his best chance. He can make this year a career-defining year for himself. Denny Hamlin has shown that he’s ready.” – Jeff Burton
“The turnaround on this team from last year to this year is just amazing.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 11 team
“Denny Hamlin proved to everyone else that he could do it on the biggest stage…clearly the biggest win of his career.” – Steve Letarte
NBC Sports 2019 NASCAR Championship Media Conference Call – This Tuesday, November 12, at 2 p.m. ET
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Nov. 10, 2019 – NBC Sports presented the semifinal race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on Sunday afternoon on NBC, as Denny Hamlin won his sixth race of the 2019 season at ISM Raceway to join Martin Truex Jr.Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, who qualified on points, as the Championship Four drivers that will compete for the title next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday on NBC.
NBC Sports’ Rick Allen called the action alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte. 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton and racing legend and two-time Daytona 500-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided commentary from a second booth. Marty SniderKelli StavastDave BurnsParker Kligerman and Rutledge Wood reported from pit road and the grandstands.
Coverage on NBC began at 1:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR America and Countdown to Green, hosted by Krista Voda from NBC Sports’ “Peacock Pit Box” near pit road at the “Monster Mile,” alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Pre-race coverage on NBC included:
RACE RESULTS
PositionDriverCar#
1Denny Hamlin11
2Kyle Busch18
3Ryan Blaney12
4Kyle Larson42
5Kevin Harvick4
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBC:

POST-RACE COVERAGE
Hamlin to Wood during the burnout interview: “I’ve been through so many Playoffs and so many things that could go wrong – this year I’m always waiting on the next right thing to happen.”
Letarte on Hamlin’s win: “What a car. What a call. I thought four tires were needed and they proved me wrong. The restart was unreal.”
Petty: “There are performances that we as fans are able to watch and stick with you forever…this is one of those days. Remember when Denny Hamlin went into Phoenix 20 points out and had to make something happen.”
Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 11 team: “The turnaround on this team from last year to this year is just amazing. The change in crew chief – the drivers have a lot of talent, but you’ve got to have that guy on the box that can pull all the people around you.”
Letarte: “Denny Hamlin proved to everyone else that he could do it on the biggest stage…clearly the biggest win of his career.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Hamlin’s win: “It was like a walk-off grand slam to end the game…I would say that celebration was akin to a team winning a division title…it tells you how important it is to all of these guys.”
Burton on impact of Hamlin’s win heading into Homestead-Miami: “When you have to go somewhere and you have to win and you haven’t really done that, going against three guys who have, now you feel like you can do it. The way he won is a down payment on a championship in the future.”
RACE COVERAGE
Allen: “Denny Hamlin has done it! He’s won his way into the Championship Four!”
Burton on Hamlin’s restart with four laps to go: “How about Denny Hamlin? Needed that great restart and got it under pressure.”
Burns on Joey Logano’s struggles as he pits with 65 laps to go: “Team Penske is trying to fix a 3,000-pound rolling science project that has gone bad.”
Burton on Hamlin’s dominant performance with 70 laps to go: “He is half a lap ahead of teammate Kyle Busch who is in second place. Think about that. It’s amazing how fast this car is.”
Snider on Hamlin: “On the subject of the 2010 season for Denny Hamlin, I asked crew chief Chris Gabehart about that and he said, ‘I think this moment, this weekend would be too big for the 2010 Denny Hamlin. The 2019 Denny Hamlin is up for it.’”
Burton on Hamlin with 112 laps to go: “This year is his best chance to make that happen. He made a mistake last week. He can recover, come back from that and he can make this year a career-defining year for himself by overcoming adversity. Denny Hamlin has shown that he’s ready for that and he’s in position.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Logano early in Stage 3: “Joey’s car doesn’t look like it’s getting any better as the race goes on. If anything, it looks like they aren’t able to keep up with the race track…the No. 22 is fighting to keep position.”
Burton on Chase Elliott’s wreck on lap 166 to end his Championships hopes: “Just a horrible Round of 8 for this team. The mechanical failure at Martinsville, the wreck at Texas, and now the incident here.”
Letarte on Elliott: “The Round of 8 has been anything but kind to the No. 9 car.”
Allen on Hamlin winning Stage 1: “He knew it could be a career-changing day…what does he do? He goes out and he wins Stage 1.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Roger Penske’s acquisition of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “I went to the Indy 500 for the first time in my life this year, and the one word I took away from that was ‘tradition.’ Knowing that Roger’s in charge of that, it’s going to stay in good hands.”

Phoenix Betting Preview: 2019 Blue Green Vacations 500

Denny Hamlin has some catching up to do.

Two Championship 4 berths are up for grabs in the final race of the Round of 8 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix this Sunday. Six drivers will be fighting for the two open slots with four of them most likely having to win to advance to next week’s week Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook opened Kyle Busch as the 3/1 favorite based on him winning the last two races at Phoenix.

“The last couple times we’ve been to Phoenix, we’ve run pretty good. Hopefully, that can translate to this time around again. We were good at Richmond and normally Richmond translates good there. Loudon (N.H.), that translates there. I’m optimistic about it. I think we can do OK. It’s just a matter of running another clean race and not making mistakes.”

I’ve always grouped Phoenix, New Hampshire, and Richmond together when creating weekly ratings because of the similarities in track size and being relatively flat. It’s been a constant trend that if a driver does well at one track they’ll do well on the other.

Busch can clinch a Championship 4 berth with 53 points earned and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Joey Logano) he would clinch a position having earned 34 points.

Logano has a 2016 win at Phoenix but his last five starts there have seen a best of 10th in the spring and accidents in the previous two years resulting in a 37th-place finish last fall and 31st in 2017.

“It’s going to be a good battle for sure,’’ Logano said. “We are racing for that last spot just in case someone behind us outside of the Top-4 wins. It will be a good time. Obviously, the No. 18 team is good and Kyle (Busch) is a good driver, but I think we are a great team and they are beatable just like everybody else.’’

I have no idea why he’s talking about Busch because they’re both inside the top-four and not really racing each other, but there’s always been some tension between the two champions. They don’t like each other.

Logano is 6/1 to win the 2019 Championship while a whopping 25/1 to win Sunday at Phoenix.

Denny Hamlin currently sits fifth in points, 20-points behind Logano for the final slot. His 28th-place finish at Texas put him in a tough spot to win his first championship in what has already been a career year.

“Yeah, just got up in the slippery stuff before it was really broke in, lost control, that’s all there is to it,” Hamlin said of his spinout at Texas. “Proud of the whole FedEx team for putting their best effort forward so we could be there at the end. Did the best we could in Texas and we’re moving forward and focused on Phoenix and hope to lock down a win.”

Hamlin has a 2012 win at Phoenix to his credit along with 12 top-five finishes there, including the race there in March. But it’s in this week’s race package with engines producing 750 horsepower where Hamlin has an edge over Logano and could make up some ground. In the 13 races with this package, Hamlin has 11 top-fives which is by far the most consistent in the series. Logano’s two wins this season both came with the 550 horsepower package, the last coming in June at Michigan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Valley of the Sun could shine on Kyle Busch’s Playoff hopes

Kyle Busch is 3/1 favorite to win at Phoenix.
Kyle Busch must feel buoyed by his record at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix, where he is the only driver to win in the two races since the facility completed a major renovation and re-configuration last year.

A victory in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would be a huge boost to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season champion – securing his position in the Championship 4 to compete for a season title and giving him all kinds of momentum to do so.

Busch has three career victories at Phoenix and is the only one of the current eight championship-eligible drivers with multiple wins at all three of the tracks – Martinsville, Va., Texas and Phoenix – that comprised this championship set-up Playoff round.

Only nine-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick has more top-10 finishes (22) at ISM Raceway than Busch (20) among the eight drivers still contending for a championship berth. And with both wins on the new-look facility, there’s plenty of reason for Busch to feel optimistic about his chances Sunday. He has hoisted four trophies this season but doing so Sunday would be the first time since a June 2 victory at Pocono.

Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick have secured two of the four positions for next weekend’s title chase. The 2015 series champion Busch is ranked third in the standings with a two-point advantage on defending series champion Joey Logano. He holds a 22-point edge on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in fifth place and a 25-point edge over Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott is 80 points behind Busch and 78 points out of fourth – mathematically, he can only get into the Championship 4 with a win at ISM Raceway.

Should a non-Playoff driver win on Sunday then both the third and fourth place positions in the points standings would earn a position in the Championship 4.

“We all know one guy is going to move through on points and we have to do whatever we have to do in order to be that guy,’’ said Busch, who drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

“If we can obviously go to Phoenix and have a strong run and be able to go out there and win that will put us through, as well. We’re two points up on the 22 (Logano), so it’s going to be a race between the 18 and 22. Imagine that. We’ll look forward to the challenge and hope we have a strong run in order to make it through to Homestead.’’