NASCAR – NASCAR starting lineup at Phoenix: Kevin Harvick wins pole as several playoff drivers struggle | NASCAR

NASCAR – NASCAR starting lineup at Phoenix: Kevin Harvick wins pole as several playoff drivers struggle | NASCAR


Kevin Harvick made a statement Friday at Phoenix, claiming the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at ISM Raceway.

“This is a great race track (but) I really wasn’t expecting that,” Harvick told NBCSN afterward.

On Wednesday, NASCAR ruled that Harvick’s race-winning car from last weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway had failed a postrace inspection. As a result, NASCAR suspended crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith for the final two races, and docked Harvick 40 points.

NASCAR AT PHOENIX: Odds, fantasy advice, prediction, sleepers

More importantly, NASCAR took away the automatic spot Harvick had clinched for the Championship 4 playoff finale Nov. 18 at Homestead.

Those penalties left Harvick on the playoff bubble to advance to the championship showdown. And while Harvick is always tough at Phoenix, with nine career victories there, starting on the pole certainly gives him a leg up on the competition.

Harvick and six other playoff drivers will be trying to earn one of three remaining spots in the Championship 4 season finale race Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Joey Logano has already clinched a spot in the four-driver showdown thanks to his win at Martinsville last month).

While Chase Elliott, who qualified second, and Kyle Busch (sixth) helped their causes in qualifying, four of those playoff drivers did not make the final round of qualifying. Martin Truex Jr. had an issue in inspection, failing the process three times before passing. Those three failures led to an automatic one-race suspension for his car chief and Truex will also be docked 30 minutes in the final Cup practice session Saturday. He qualified 13th.

“I’d say 13th is a pretty good starting spot for the day we’ve had,” Truex told reporters. “We really didn’t get a crack at anything in practice and we didn’t have much time to get ready for qualifying and we were pretty far off.

“Made some good gains for sure. I wish we could have ran again. I definitely feel like I could pick up some more, we were pretty tight. We’ll start 13th and get to work [Saturday].”

Kurt Busch checked in 14th, while Clint Bowyer (16th) and Aric Almirola (18th) also struggled.

Heading into Sunday’s race Kyle Busch (25 points above the cutoff line) and Truex (plus-25) are in good shape, while Harvick sits just three points above the cutoff line and Kurt Busch. Elliott is 17 points below the cutoff, while Almirola (minus-35) and Bowyer (minus-51) need a victory to get into the season finale.

The Can-Am 500 begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this report.

Monster Energy NASCAR starting lineup at Phoenix

Position, (car number), driver, manufacturer, speed
1. (4) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 139.340 mph.
2. (9) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 139.152 mph.
3. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 139.007 mph.
4. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 138.867 mph.
5. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 138.739 mph.
6. (18) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 138.707 mph.
7. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 138.344 mph.
8. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 138.259 mph.
9. (22) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 138.254 mph.
10. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 138.249 mph.
11. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 137.889 mph.
12. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 137.667 mph.
13. (78) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 138.339 mph.
14. (41) Kurt Busch (P), Ford, 138.180 mph.
15. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 138.069 mph.
16. (14) Clint Bowyer (P), Ford, 137.878 mph.
17. (6) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 137.767 mph.
18. (10) Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 137.720 mph.
19. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 137.604 mph.
20. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 137.541 mph.
21. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 137.531 mph.
22. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 137.342 mph.
23. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 136.815 mph.
24. (47) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 136.529 mph.
25. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 136.664 mph.
26. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 136.529 mph.
27. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 135.916 mph.
28. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 135.767 mph.
29. (95) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 135.649 mph.
30. (43) Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 135.542 mph.
31. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 135.267 mph.
32. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 134.158 mph.
33. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 133.482 mph.
34. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 133.328 mph.
35. (23) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 133.284 mph.
36. (97) Tanner Berryhill, Toyota, 132.202 mph.
37. (66) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 131.114 mph.
38. (7) DJ Kennington(i), Chevrolet, 130.124 mph.
39. (51) Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

(P) Playoff driver.
# Rookie.
(i) Ineligible for series points.



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