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Monday, January 25, 2021

NASCAR Xfinity and Truck championships races: Here’s everything you need to know

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NASCAR’s three national series are entering the final race of the season at Phoenix Raceway. Not only will a Cup champion be crowned this Sunday, but the Xfinity and Truck Series will also deem a 2020 title holder over the weekend, offering a potential glimpse at future up-and-comers to elevate to the top series.

The Truck championship, the Lucas Oil 150, is Friday at 8 p.m. on FS1. Matt Crafton won last year’s championship, but missed the cut for the final four this season. Crafton’s ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger is making an appearance in the title race this year alongside three GMS Racing drivers Zane Smith, Sheldon Creed and Brett Moffitt.

The Xfinity Series championship will run the following day at the track, and will feature drivers from four teams, all fielding either Chevrolet or Ford equipment. Cup Series rookie Tyler Reddick won last year’s Xfinity title.

This year, the Xfinity champion will be one of the following: Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric or Justin Haley. The Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 is 5 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN.

Below are the final four Truck Series and Xfinity Series drivers contending for the winner-take-all races this weekend at Phoenix.

Grant Enfinger, No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150

Enfinger, 35, has won a career-best four races this season, beginning with the Daytona 500. He also won races at Atlanta and Richmond during the regular season, and most recently won at Martinsville in the Round of 8 to advance to the championship event. Enfinger has raced full-time in the Truck Series for ThorSport since 2017. He earned 10 top-five finishes, but went winless last season.

This is Enfinger’s first time racing in the Championship 4. He has two top-five finishes at Phoenix in three starts at the track and last finished in fifth place at the raceway, but he’s coming off the momentum of a win at Martinsville and will start first on Friday.

Zane Smith, No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado

Smith, 21, is advancing to the championship race as a series rookie, making him the 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in Trucks. He earned two wins — one at Michigan and one at Dover — and six top-fives this season. A pair of third-place finishes in the two most recent races, at Martinsville and Texas, helped Smith clinch the final spot in the championship race on points. Five stage wins during the regular season boosted him to a second place seeding heading into the playoffs.

Smith will race a truck at Phoenix for the first time this weekend, but he finished fifth at the track last season in the Xfinity Series driving for JR Motorsports.

Sheldon Creed, No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado

Creed, 23, is in his second full-time season in the series with his GMS Racing team. Not only did Creed secure his first Trucks win this year at Kentucky, but he won three more races after that — at the Daytona road course, followed by races at Gateway and Texas. His most recent win in the Round of 8 sent Creed through to the championship race.

He finished 12th at Phoenix last year, but Creed has 13 career top-five finishes in the series, eight of which came this season. This could be the year for the driver, who is also an X-Games gold medalist, to capitalize on his regular season run with a championship title.

Brett Moffitt, No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado

did not miss any races while recovering from a motocross bike accident and surgery that was fortuitously timed with NASCAR’s pandemic delay in this spring.” data-reactid=”42″ type=”text”>Moffitt fractured both of his legs at the beginning of the season and is still competing for a title. The 28-year-old driver did not miss any races while recovering from a motocross bike accident and surgery that was fortuitously timed with NASCAR’s pandemic delay in this spring.

He’s earned 10 top-10 finishes this season and reached the playoffs on points, with five stage wins during the regular season. He was ranked fifth in points entering the postseason and earned his spot in the championship race with another fortuitously-timed event: His first and only win of the season at Kansas in the Round of 8.

Moffitt is looking to win another race this Friday to become a two-time Truck Series champion. He won the 2018 championship with Hattori Racing Enterprises and has experience competing in each of NASCAR’s three national series. He was the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year.

Justin Allgaier, No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro

Allgaier, 34, is an experienced Xfinity driver. He is making his fourth Championship 4 appearance in five years, but he has yet to win the title.

Allgaier was the 2018 regular season Xfinity champion and earned his place in this year’s final event with three wins during the regular season (Dover and back-to-back Richmond races) and enough playoff points. With non-playoff driver Harrison Burton winning two races in the Round of 8, points became essential to advance, and a solid run in the latest race at Martinsville for Allgaier helped him earn one of the four spots. He won Stage 2 at Martinsville and finished in second place.

The driver has, by far, the most Xfinity starts at Phoenix (20), outnumbering Austin Cindric — with the second-most starts — by 15 races. Of those events, Allgaier has seven top-fives and two wins.

Chase Briscoe, No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang

Briscoe, 25, will be a driver to watch as he is making the jump to Cup next season in the No. 14, replacing Clint Bowyer. Briscoe has emerged as a steady title contender, notching nine wins over the course of his second full-time Xfinity season this year, beginning with Las Vegas in February and most recently winning at Kansas in the Round of 8 to become the only driver to win his way into the Championship 4.

He has yet to win or score a top-five at Phoenix after three Xfinity races at the track, but Briscoe’s been a force all season and could cap his season with another win.

Austin Cindric, No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang

Cindric, 22, dominated the summer, winning half of the series’ ten races between July and August, but his last win came as part of that roll, at the Daytona road course in August. He advanced to the Championship 4 on points for his first appearance in the playoff finale in his third full-time season in Xfinity. Cindric will make the move to the Cup Series in 2022 driving the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing.

Cindric has two top-fives at Phoenix, but has not won at the track in his five starts. This weekend will be his sixth attempt for a win at the track and first attempt for a series title.

Justin Haley, No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro

Haley, 21, won three superspeedway races this season — two at Talladega and one at Daytona. His second win at Talladega came in the Round of 12, earning Haley essential playoff points during the Round of 8. His most recent finishes have been strong enough, with two top-10s at Kansas (fourth) and Texas (seventh), as well as a 12th-place finish at Martinsville, to boost him to the championship event in his second full-time Xfinity season.

Haley will return to Kaulig Racing next year and is looking to deliver the team’s first championship title.

Race: Lucas Oil 150″ data-reactid=”64″ type=”text”>Race: Lucas Oil 150

When: Friday 8 p.m.” data-reactid=”66″ type=”text”>When: Friday 8 p.m.

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio” data-reactid=”68″ type=”text”>Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Race: Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200″ data-reactid=”70″ type=”text”>Race: Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200

When: Saturday 5 p.m.” data-reactid=”72″ type=”text”>When: Saturday 5 p.m.

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio” data-reactid=”74″ type=”text”>Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

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