Johnny Sauter and others comment on their runs in the Music City.
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- NASCAR officials offered a firm reminder Sunday morning, instructing drivers to keep Sunday's competition clean in the next-to-last race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, made the remarks in the drivers' and crew chiefs' meeting Sunday morning, hours before the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Phoenix International Raceway . O'Donnell acknowledged the high stakes associated with the 312-mile event, which will trim the field of title-eligible drivers from eight to four heading into next Sunday's championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "We've got two races to go. Everybody knows there's a lot on the line tonight," O'Donnell said. "Be professional. Let the race play out as it always would. If it's not your day, let those competing for a win go for it." Track president Bryan Sperber honored Jeff Gordon in the meeting, thanking the four-time premier series champion with a race-day renaming of the 1-mile facility to Jeff Gordon Raceway. Gordon punctuated the 12-minute meeting with a question about restarts, asking whether the second-place car could beat the leading car (or "control car") to the start-finish line if restart is otherwise ruled legal. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck replied in the affirmative.
RELATED: NASCAR, RISE team up with eye on equality HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France held his annual year-ending question-and-answer session with the NASCAR media on Friday, sharing his thoughts on the Matt Kenseth suspension, the high quality of competition in 2015 and his expectations for what's to come. France began the discussion by reiterating the remarkable season-ending run for the sport, which will conclude in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 with Kevin Harvick defending his 2014 title against impending retiree, four-time champ Jeff Gordon and new championship challengers Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr . While France was candid and sincere when answering questions from the assembled national and local media, he was prepared for questions about NASCAR's handling of the two-race Matt Kenseth suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville, Virginia. It was the first question from the floor. Asked whether he should have perhaps spoken to Logano and Kenseth to discuss the escalated situation, France said that at the time, he didn't think it necessary. Kenseth was suspended for two races after NASCAR ruled he intentionally crashed Logano out in the Martinsville race. "Obviously, if I thought that would have helped we would have definitely sat down," France said. He said he met with Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs to talk earlier in the week and make sure everyone was on the same level with Kenseth returning to competition this week. "We were very disappointed, as you know, with what happened in Martinsville, we reacted to that," France said. "What we were coming down here to a championship weekend, and I wanted to make sure that that matter was behind us with Matt, with Joe Gibbs and so on. I'm assured that it is. We had a good conversation about what had happened and what the thinking was or whatever you want to call Matt's actions, and we talked about that. And it was a good conversation. "Those kind of conversations happen with us more frequently than not, so that's not a surprising thing. I felt good coming out of those meetings." France was also asked where "the line" was in accessing whether a penalty should come down. He smiled broadly and told the room he was "glad" someone asked. "Do you know how many drivers have come to see ( Sprint Cup Series Managing Director) Richard Buck in the last two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? Zero,'' France said. "Zero drivers have asked us for a clarification on the so-called line. And the reason that they don't ask is they know. And they know that circumstances late in a race, blocking, although I'm not a fan of blocking, that's part of racing. Blocking, contact, the short end of some of those exchanges that happen, are all part of it and do not look to NASCAR to deal with that, they are part of racing. "So the line is ... if somebody is just intentionally banzaiing into some situation with the sole purpose of taking somebody out, we'll deal with that. We dealt with that in Martinsville, as a matter of fact. We'll deal with that at all times." RELATED: Riding the fine 'line' to a championship Again, France said he has nothing but good feelings about the new elimination-style Chase format that was introduced last year and will feature three new title-contenders among the accomplished group of four and give Harvick an opportunity to be the first driver since Jimmie Johnson to win Cup titles in consecutive years. "I am excited we've got four drivers, including Jeff Gordon that are storybook endings in their own right," France said. "The level of competition the Chase format has delivered has exceeded everything we have envisioned. "The stakes are higher on any given weekend ... and you're seeing the drivers and teams react to that." France spoke about the possibility, however, that the 2015 Chase could end in a controversial way -- hard-racing and high contact. In acknowledging the possibility existed, he reminded the room that NASCAR has developed a good reputation for the tussle form of competitiveness, too. "Gentlemen drivers exist," France said. "I don't see one in those four guys remaining. And if there's contact and they're going for position ... it's not always that somebody just turns somebody around. "I don't know what will happen. But contact late in the race, that's just part of it and we got to have an understanding of that and not be so surprised when that happens in a NASCAR race." Certainly the new format has created an even higher level of excitement. Asked if NASCAR is considering implementing the Chase format in the Camping World Truck and XFINITY series, France was non-committal, yet not opposed. "It has been successful," France said. "Our partners in XFINITY and Camping World would like for us to explore what's possible to have a, their own version of it. And we're going to look at that. We're going to look at that in the off-season. We have looked at that before, haven't quite found the perfect thing for each one of those divisions. But we'll work at it. It's worth looking at." France did concede there is a chance of rain on all three days of scheduled championship-crowning racing at Homestead, but he assured the room and the readers that there are a "record number" of Air Titan dryers on site in case. "We are going to go through the weekend as we traditionally would, looking at all of our options trying to get all of the laps in a given race on a certain race day,'' France said. "That's been our policy and philosophy. We go further and try harder, I think, than any other motor sport division to accomplish that because we want it to be settled on track."
Kyle Busch will lead off the start of the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover
RELATED: Complete Miami race results " Final 2015 standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Kyle Larson took out a season of frustration on the NASCAR XFINITY Series field Saturday in the season finale, tracking down Austin Dillon in the closing laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway by slightly less than a second. Despite Larson's dominance in leading 118 of 200 laps, Chris Buescher ran a clean race, finishing 11th to clinch his first XFINITY Series title. Buescher came into the race needing to finish 13th or better to guarantee himself the championship. After winning a pair of XFINITY Series races last season, Larson, 23, had visions of qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this year. Those hopes failed to materialize. He sits 20th in Sprint Cup points heading into Sunday's season finale (3 p.m. ET on NBC). And prior to Saturday, although managing three top-five finishes, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum had gone winless in 13 XFINITY starts. But Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet out of the Harry Scott Jr. shop was so strong on Saturday that by Lap 97, only three other cars were chasing him on the lead lap. Larson had opened a 6.7-second lead over early-race leader Kyle Busch (who led 62 of the first 79 laps from the Coors Light Pole) when the race's third caution flag waved on Lap 117. Busch's threat fizzled when he was penalized for having a loose tire in the pits, then crashed after contact with NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum Darrell Wallace Jr . on Lap 182. On the final restart, however, Larson slipped to fourth and had to recover with a late race charge to catch Dillon. Both Larson and Dillon, seeking the speed of the outside line at Homestead-Miami Speedway , brushed the wall in the final laps. "To win is really special, especially when you haven't won in over a year in a NASCAR national series," said Larson, admitting he wasn't sure he could catch Dillon, who led laps 180-195. "There's no other track that suits me like this track. I'm just really comfortable running up against the wall. I seem to always have good race cars when I come here. "We've been frustrated a number of times this year. Some races, we haven't had the speed we had last year. Also, we've had a lot of races where we were pretty fast, then had something happen to us in the last run of the races. It's just been a really inconsistent year." When it came time to celebrate, however, Larson drove directly to Victory Lane, respectfully leaving the burnout to the XFINITY Series champ. "This is championship week, so congratulations to Chris Buescher ," Larson said. "I wanted Chris to have his moment there." Buescher, who won races at Iowa and Dover this season, came into the race with a string of nine consecutive top-10 finishes, but played it safe throughout the day at HMS. Crew chief Scott Graves did make a pivotal call, electing to pit while other title contenders remained on the track for the final 21 laps. That put Buescher in position to claim the free pass, which he did moments later when Busch hit the wall. "We thought having fresh tires on it was going to put us in a better position," Graves said. "We knew if we could be in the 'Lucky Dog' situation … we were basically going to be on even ground (with our competitors). With the number of laps that was left, we felt that was going to be our best option." "Our Fastenal Mustang had good speed in it, but we just had to be careful out there," Buescher said. "It's unbelievable for us to be able to pull it off. I’m not a 'points' racer. I don't like it. But it was important (to finish) what we've been fighting for since February and Daytona." Chase Elliott , the defending series champion who is poised to take over the No. 24 Sprint Cup car for Hendrick Motorsports in 2016, finished eighth in the race and 15 points behind Buescher. Ty Dillon , seventh on Saturday, finished 18 points behind Buescher, and Regan Smith , ninth on Saturday, settled for fourth in points, 22 points back. "We had an up-and-down season," said Elliott, who won three XFINITY Series races in 2014 but lamented his ability to win just once this year (at Richmond). "They just outran us, fair and square. No reason to be upset about that. We just need to do a better job." Dillon recorded his 25th top-10 finish of the season but failed to win a race. He did finish in the top 10 in eight of his last nine races. Smith, runner-up to Elliott last season, ended the season with 13 consecutive top-10 finishes. While Buescher gave Roush Fenway Racing Owner Jack Roush his fifth XFINITY Series title, the owner's championship went to Team Penske 's No. 22 Ford for a third consecutive season. Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Alex Tagliani and Ryan Blaney -- who finished fifth behind Erik Jones (Toyota) and Brian Scott (Chevrolet) in the Ford EcoBoost 300 -- all made starts in the No. 22 this season.
Jimmie Johnson talks about his battle with Brad Keselowski to take the lead and win at Texas Motor Speedway.
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A hard-edged contest for the lead snared two championship contenders, and a pit-stop misstep hindered the third, as Friday the 13th luck haunted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title race at Phoenix International Raceway . While Timothy Peters scooted away with his second victory of the season, Erik Jones , Tyler Reddick and Matt Crafton all played damage control Friday night in a topsy-turvy Lucas Oil 150 . Once the curtain closed on the next-to-last event of the season, Jones inched closer to his first NASCAR national series crown, Reddick made modest but unfulfilling gains and Crafton's hopes for extending his title reign to three years grew dimmer. After a late-race restart, Jones and Crafton collided with 30 laps to go on the exit of Turn 4. Crafton caught the worst of the melee, collecting ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter at speed on the frontstretch. Jones, the pole-starter, emerged with relatively minor damage on the left-rear fender, rallying from a pit stop to finish ninth. Crafton spent significant time behind the wall for repairs, finishing 20 laps down in 23rd place. Crafton and Jones had raced fiercely earlier in the 150-lapper, and their contact near the end was no different. But the two-time series champ absorbed the blame for the fateful brush. "It was 100 percent my fault," said Crafton, who led three times for 15 laps. "We were close and it was tight racing. When you get somebody side-by-side with you, I just got loose and made a mistake. Things happen, we're all human and we'll go on to Homestead. I hate it for the guys, we had such a good truck. We'll just hold our heads up and go to Homestead." Jones, who can eliminate Crafton from the title picture with a result of 27th or better in the 32-truck field in next Friday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway , said the contact was simply the byproduct of hard-nosed competition. "There was definitely some hard racing," said Jones, who led five times for 106 laps. "He didn't want us to get the lead obviously and slipped up and made a mistake. It's going to happen, it's racing, it's hard racing and we both had fast trucks. It's just a shame when you lose a shot at the win. ... "At that moment I wasn't thinking about the championship. I was thinking about winning a race and that flashed before my eyes. I was somewhat worried about it, I wasn't too concerned about it, I figured we'd be OK since obviously the 88 (Crafton) was involved as well. Still a 19-point lead and that's a solid margin to go into Homestead." Reddick actually gained a spot in the standings with a fifth-place finish, but failed to capitalize more on the misfortunes of Crafton and Jones. The 19-year-old driver said his Brad Keselowski Racing team would investigate possible trouble on his No. 19 Ford's right-front, which led to a balky tire change on his final pit stop. Jones can close out Reddick in the season finale by placing 15th or better, 16th with leading one lap, and 17th with leading the most laps. Though a mathematic chance at taking the title exists, Reddick was despondent in the immediate aftermath of defeat, calling the night "a real shame." "We still needed to win the race and that was all I really cared about doing," Reddick said. "Running fifth is not going to win us a championship."
Related: Complete results from Phoenix " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. – After the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series battle changed dramatically with a wreck involving the two series leaders, Timothy Peters held off John Hunter Nemechek to win Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway . Peters beat Nemechek to the checkered flag by .309 seconds to record his first victory at the one-mile speedway, his second of the season and the 10th of his career. But the real drama occurred 30 laps before Peters crossed the finish line in the 150-lap event. The dominant trucks of series leader Erik Jones and two-time defending champion Matt Crafton fell out of contention, wrecking during an intense battle for the lead. As Crafton and Jones raced side-by-side for the lead after a restart on Lap 120, Crafton's Toyota slipped underneath Jones' Tundra in Turn 4 and pinched Jones against the outside wall. Crafton shot to the left and knocked ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter 's Toyota into the inside wall, critically damaging both vehicles. Despite damage to the rear of his truck, Jones salvaged a lead-lap ninth-place finish and maintained a 19-point lead in the series standings over Tyler Reddick , who finished fifth on Friday night. Crafton wasn't as fortunate. His 23rd-place finish left him 32 points behind Jones, who can end Crafton’s title run with a finish of 27th or better next Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Jones can clinch his first championship outright with a finish of 15th or better in the season finale. "I made a mistake," Crafton acknowledged. "Mistakes happen and we're all human," he said. "I hate it for my guys because we had a great truck." Peters had to dodge a Lap 6 wreck involving Brandon Jones , William Byron and Cole Custer before he could think about winning the race. "When I saw it happen, and (the wrecking trucks) coming back across the race track, I can't tell you what I was thinking, but it was 'Here we go again,'" said Peters, who posted his seventh straight top-six finish in a stretch that includes two wins. "The last two years, we’ve had great trucks (at Phoenix), but we've been in the right place at the wrong time. "The Lord works in great ways, and tonight was our night. Even though we missed it by our chinny, chin, chin, I was able to miss it. The only damage on the truck is from me getting crazy burning it out (in the post-race celebration). I'm sure that won’t be a problem if we keep continuing to go down this path." Note: With Peters’ victory, Toyota clinched its eighth manufacturers' championship in the Truck Series.
RELATED: See the full weekend schedule " NBC Sports Live Extra All times ET Monday, Nov. 9 6 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 8 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN 1 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: WinStar World Casino 350 (re-air), FS2 2 p.m., NASCAR 120, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Tuesday, Nov. 10 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Wednesday, Nov. 11 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 3 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Thursday, Nov. 12 6 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBCSN 6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FS1 7 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 2 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FS2 Friday, Nov. 13 12:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 3:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series practice, NBCSN 4:30 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 5 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice, NBCSN 6:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 8 p.m., NCWTS Setup, FS1 8:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 , FS1 Saturday, Nov. 14 3:30 a.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 (re-air), FS1 11:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, NBCSN 12:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN 2 p.m., NASCAR America Live, NBCSN 2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN 3:30 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series Countdown to Green, NBCSN 4 p.m., NASCAR XFINITY Series DAV 200 Honoring America's Veterans, NBCSN 1:30 a.m., The 10: Greatest Truck Moments (re-air), FS2 Sunday, Nov. 15 11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1 1:30 p.m., NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN 2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown to Green, NBC 2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 , NBC 6 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Post-Race, NBCSN 6:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN 11:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lap (re-air), NBCSN &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp;
Kyle Busch holds off Matt Crafton to win the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway.