COMMENTARY |This weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, NASCAR will crown three champions in its top three series, Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks. One of these championship races has all but been decided, one is close but not quite over yet, and one will go down to the wire - here's a look at all three title hunts.
Camping World Truck Series - The Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 will be contested Friday night, November 15 at 8 p.m. ET, and the only thing Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Toyota Tundra, has to do is start the race - he has a 46-point lead over second-place Ty Dillon. This will be Crafton's first NASCAR title, besting his top finish of second in 2009.
On the owner's points championship front, the No. 88 team leads the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Tundra by 23 points, which means Crafton will have to finish at least 18th without leading a lap to secure the owner's title for ThorSport Racing. There have been five different drivers in the No. 51 this season: Busch (10 races with four wins), Erik Jones (five races with one win), Chad Hackenbracht (four races), Scott Bloomquist (one race) and Denny (one race).
Nationwide Series - The closest championship battle is the Nationwide Series battle between the older Dillon brother, Austin, and three-time IndyCar champ Sam Hornish Jr. Dillon has an eight-point advantage over Hornish Jr. going into the Saturday, November 16 running of the Ford EcoBoost 300, which takes the green flag at 4:30 p.m. ET. Dillon, somewhat surprisingly, has yet to get a win this season, while Hornish Jr. picked up a victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March - another 1.5-mile track, just like Homestead. While Hornish Jr. has more top 10 finishes than Dillon (24 to 22), the difference-maker is in the worst finishes: Dillon has three (two 21st-place finishes and one 25th-place finish), while Hornish Jr. has four (one 25th-place finish, one 32nd -place finish and two 34th-place finishes). Dillon needs to finish third or better without leading a lap.
The Nationwide Series owner's points championship is being settled amongst two completely different teams: the No. 22 of Penske Racing and the No. 54 of Joe Gibbs Racing. Each team competed with multiple drivers - Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and AJ Allmendinger in the No. 22 and Kyle Busch, Joey Coulter, Drew Herring and Owen Kelly in the No. 54 - with Penske racing to a four-point advantage over the JGR team. To clinch, the No. 22 - to be driven by Logano - needs to win, period.
Sprint Cup Series/Chase for the Sprint Cup - The Chase for the Sprint Cup finale, the Ford EcoBoost 400, takes the green flag at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 17, with Jimmie Johnson 28 points ahead of Matt Kenseth. Johnson needs to finish 23rd or better without leading a lap to clinch the title, but he's heading to a rare track where he is winless - he's been runner-up twice at Homestead (2004 and 2010). Kenseth, on the other hand, has a win at the track (2007), but also has seven finishes of 20th or worst.
There is, however, one more driver who can win the title, albeit by something of a miracle. Kevin Harvick is 34 points behind Johnson - a few too many to make up in one race against the two most dominant drivers in the series this year (13 total wins), but still within shouting distance.
Sources: "NASCAR National Series Championship Clinch Scenarios Set for Homestead," NASCAR Media, November 11, 2013
"Statistical Advance: Analyzing the Ford EcoBoost 400," NASCAR Media, November 11, 2013
Paula is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in motorsports. She also covers NASCAR at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Camping World Truck Series