Joey Logano has already locked himself into the Playoffs with his victory at Las Vegas last week, leading 86 laps and taking Stage 2 in addition to the checkers. (Kevin Harvick led 88 and won Stage 1). We’re now off to a newly configured ISM Raceway. How it races for the Cup guys? We find out today.
Here’s what to look for:
-Penske Racing had a 1-2 finish at Las Vegas with 1/3 feeling left out. That driver, Ryan Blaney, will start from Pole today in Phoenix. Just an average of 18.0 so he’s got some work to do, but the clean air and unobstructed dive into Turn 1 should be immediately helpful.
–Chase Elliott will start from Outside Pole, and with the exception of last Fall’s 23rd, he’s got five Top 12s here to go with a 9.5 average. He’s rocking the Hooters colors this week; free boneless wings should the #9 achieve victory, or fried pickles with a Top 10! (At your local Hooters, and if you’re lucky enough to have one within reasonable driving distance. Upstate New Yorkers? Our closest one is Niagara Falls..on the Canadian side..)
–Kyle Busch won the Fall race and is pretty cheesed about finishing 3rd in Vegas. He’ll roll off 4th and will be pushing to lead early on. After missing the Spring ’15 race with a broken leg, he’s been nothing short of electric here: seven straight Top 7s and a 1.5 average finish in his two most recent runs. Watch the #18 today.
–Kevin Harvick has a silly 2.7 average here over the last ten races. That is..inconceivable. The worst he’s finished in that span is 6th, and beyond that timeframe he’s got nine total Cup wins here, going for number 10 today. Oh, and he won this race last Spring.
–Ryan Newman could be one to watch today. He’s been driving for quite some time, but eight of his last ten races here were Top 12s. A lone 39th stains an otherwise wonderful record here in recent years (his other non-12 was a 20th). And he’s got bacon on his car. And the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 3:30pm, green flag scheduled for 3:46pm.