By Jeff O'Brien

NASCAR CUP SERIES

Cup Series Championship

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AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 14: A general view of the track during the NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 14, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Site: Avondale, Arizona.

Schedule: Friday, practice, 4:05 p.m., Saturday, qualifying, 7:05 p.m., Sunday, race, 3 p.m.

Track: Phoenix Raceway.

Race distance: 312 laps, 312 miles.

Last year: Chase Elliott won after starting on the pole.

Last race: Alex Bowman won at Martinsville.

Fast facts: Elliott, the defending series champion, will go for the repeat against Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. … Truex edged teammate Kyle Busch for his spot and the Penske Racing trio of Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano also was eliminated from contention. … The four championship contenders have combined to win 17 of 35 races, led by Larson with nine, Truex with four, and Elliott and Hamlin with two each.

Next race: Feb. 20, Daytona Beach, Florida.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

Xfinity Championship Race

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 13: Daniel Hemric, driver of the #18 Poppy Bank Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Call 811 Before You Dig 200 presented by Arizona 811 at Phoenix Raceway on March 13, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Site: Avondale, Arizona.

Schedule: Friday, 6:05 p.m. practice; Saturday: qualifying, 5:35 p.m., race, 8:30 p.m.

Track: Phoenix Raceway.

Race distance: 200 laps, 200 miles.

Last year: Austin Cindric won after starting third.

Last race: Noah Gragson passed Daniel Hemric for the lead in overtime and won.

Fast facts: Gragson will battle for the title against Cindric, the defending series champion, A.J. Allmendinger, and Hemric, who has never won in 119 career starts in the series. … Gragson’s victory knocked JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier out of the final four for the first time in four years. Also eliminated were Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, and Justin Haley. … Gragson won last week by 0.064 seconds, the series’ closest finish ever at Martinsville.

Next race: Feb. 19, Daytona Beach, Florida.

NASCAR TRUCK SERIES

Lucas Oil 150

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Todd Gilliland, driver of the #4 JBL/SiriusXM Toyota, and Ross Chastain, driver of the #45 CarShield Chevrolet, lead a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix on November 08, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Site: Avondale, Arizona.

Schedule: Friday: Practice, 11:05 a.m., qualifying, 5:05 p.m., race, 8 p.m.

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Track: Phoenix Raceway.

Race distance: 150 laps, 150 miles.

Last year: Sheldon Creed won after starting third.

Last race: Zane Smith clinched a berth in the championship final four under caution after Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen made contact during a three-wide battle for the lead in overtime.

Fast facts: Smith, who needed the victory to advance, will contend for the title against three-time series champion Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, and John Hunter Nemechek. … Among the drivers eliminated was Creed, the defending series champion. … Nemechek’s five victories are more than the other three contenders combined. Smith’s victory was his first of the season, Rhodes won twice — the first two races of the season. Crafton is winless in 2021.

Next race: Feb. 18, Daytona Beach, Florida.

FORMULA ONE

Mexican Grand Prix

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – OCTOBER 27: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Renault Sport Formula One Team RS19 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Site: Mexico City, Mexico.

Schedule: Friday, practice, 1:30 and 5 p.m.; Saturday, practice, 1 p.m., and qualifying, 4 p.m.; Sunday, race, 2 p.m.

Track: Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Race distance: 71 laps, 189.738 miles.

Last year: Did not race.

Last race: Max Verstappen outran seven-time series champion, Lewis Hamilton, in Texas and claimed his series-high eighth victory of the year.

Fast facts: Verstappen leads Hamilton by 12 points with five races remaining. … Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas is third, 102.5 points back. … Verstappen and Hamilton (5) have combined to win 13 of the 17 races so far this year. … Verstappen had led 504 of the 904 laps he’s run.

Next race: Nov. 14, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

INDYCAR

Last race: Colton Herta won the season finale at Long Beach, California, as Alex Palou wrapped up the series championship.

Next race: Feb. 27, St. Petersburg, Florida.

NHRA DRAG RACING

Last event: Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel and Cruz Pedregon won in Funny Car in Las Vegas.

Next event: Nov. 11-14, NHRA Finals, Pomona, California.

WORLD OF OUTLAWS

Next event: Nov. 4-6, World of Outlaws Finals, Concord, North Carolina.

 

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