. The four finalists in each of the three major divisions are: Kyle Larsen, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., in the Cup series In Xfinity it is Austin Cindric, A. J. Almendinger, Noah Gragson who won last week and jumped into the finals and Daniel Hemric who has never won a major division NASCAR race since he started in trucks years ago, the final four. All four of these drivers will compete for the second tier Xfinity title. Finally, the Camping World truck series four finalists will be Zane Smith, another driver who jumped over the entry barrier by winning last week, John Hunter Nemechek who was dominant and almost missed the finals following an early race crash where he was spun into the wall, Ben Rhodes who was the hottest driver in the truck series at the start of the season and Matt Crafton, the wily old veteran and former three-time truck series champ. All twelve of these drivers will practice, qualify and line up based on times, and race amongst a full field of cars in each division main event while doing battle on the one mile, oddly shaped Phoenix Raceway. We were told that the race is sold out.
Who will be the 2021 NASCAR series champion in each of the three divisions? That is one out of the four in each class. Remember, they do not have to win the race to be the champion, they just need to beat the other three in their final four. As you might imagine, the winner almost always is the race winner. In the case of the CUP series, there is no way to know. Only four drivers and each can win as long as lady luck is on their side. I would like to see Larsen or Hamlin win and not the other two, both of which have championships already in Cup. Larsen can get caught up in things and Hamlin seems destined to never win a title. Elliott is the strongest choice with Truex a close second. Take your pick and then watch the race this Sunday on NBC and enjoy. In the Xfinity race series, there is a unique potential for a driver who has never won a race and who would not need to win on Saturday to be that class champion. Imagine that. Hemric has never won a race and yet he is one of four shooting for the title on Saturday. Would it not say something of the NASCAR series championship in Xfinity became so after never winning a race? Go figure. I want A.J. Almendinger to win or Noah Gragson, the sad faced kid with a great attitude. Cindric is the favorite but this may not be a formula for the most deserving driver, based on performance all year, to take home the big trophy and money. Stay tuned.
The Truck series has long shot entrant, Zane Smith in the final four. I do not think he can win since he only made it in a one race win. John Hunter Nemechek should win but there is that element called luck! Crafton and Rhodes will be right there if Nemechek falters. Nemechek races for Kyle Busch and is the only KBM entry with a shot at the title.
And then there are all those other drivers numbering about 100 who also want to win! Watch on NBC and see how it all comes out after an interminable long build-up to this final weekend. Whew!
For the record, the CUP winner last week at the crazy Martinsville race was Alex Bowman followed by Kyle Bush, and Brad Keselowski. Noah Gragson won the Xfinity race over Cindric and Hemric and while Zane Smith won the truck race over Austin Hill and Tanner Gray. These races had a modicum of drama starting with the trucks where the strongest driver in the program, Sheldon Creed, was knocked out of the final. The biggest story after this short track event involved Hamlin who took exception to Bowman pushing him out of the lead in the closing laps. Hamlin came to Bowman on the front chute after the race ended and punched the nose of his Toyota into Bowman and then came around again and blocked Bowman’s attempt to do a winner’s burnout. It gets better. Hamlin’s interview was priceless including the use of the “F” word in his response and calling Bowman a “hack”. Good stuff.
NHRA ends their 2021 season this weekend in Pomona. Last week in Vegas Steve Torrence virtually secured the top fuel dragster title with a final win over Mike Salinas. Torrence in 105 points to the good. While that should be enough to hold the top spot, NHRA awards 150% value in points in this final meet held in Pomona at the LA County fairgrounds. In top fuel, Cruz Pedregon won over Ron Capps who is the top fuel funny car point leader. Capps has a 58-point lead in that class. Dallas Glenn defeated Erica Enders in Pro Stock where Greg Anderson leads the title fight with a 32-point gap. Finally, Dallas Glenn beat Matt Smith in Pro Stock motorcycles. Steve Johnson has a 20-point lead going to Pomona to decide it all next week.
Racing is on the threshold of a short winter nap before starting up again next February. Formula one continues with a tight championship point battle there. They are in Mexico this weekend and on ESPN. Thunderhill never stops with Vintage cars this weekend, NASA road racing next and Lucky Dog endurance racing the following weekend. The Teen Car Clinics resume on Friday November 26th. Bring your young driver to this school where he/she will learn how to survive on the highways. Register at www.thunderhill.com. Click on “driving school”.