AVONDALE, AZ (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is on the pole position for today’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.
Busch’s fast lap of 25.693-seconds (140.116 mph) in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry was .067-seconds faster than Team Penske’s Joey Logano (25.760-seconds, 139.752 mph), who will start second in the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang.
“Obviously a really good starting spot for us,” said Busch. “Track position is a really big deal here and obviously No. 1 pit selection too. Lots of things that can certainly help us fire off here to start the race.”
Busch’s teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr will line up side-by-side in row two after fast laps of 25.825 (139.394) and 25.839 (139.324) respectively.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson will start fifth in the No. 42 Clover Chevrolet after a fast lap of 25.855 (139.238). Starting alongside Larson in the sixth position is Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott in the No. 9 NAPA Camaro (25.866, 139.179).
Truex is the only driver starting in the top 6 who is locked into NASCAR’s Championship 4 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway by virtue of his win at Martinsville two weeks ago.
Busch, Logano, Hamlin, Larson and Elliott along with Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney are racing Sunday for the final two spots in the title fight.
The easiest way to make it into the Championship 4 is for one of the six remaining eligible drivers is to win like Truex did a few week ago and like Kevin Harvick did last week at Texas. In this scenario, one driver will make it in via points.
If a non-playoff eligible driver wins at Phoenix then two drivers will make it into the Championship 4.
Busch and Logano enter the race currently above the points cutoff line, +22 and +20 respectively. Hamlin sits 20-points behind the cutoff. Larson and Blaney sit 23-points behind the cutoff and Elliott sits 78-points below following mechanical issues at Martinsville and an accident at Texas.
Elliott is in a must-win situation. Larson, Blaney and Hamlin could make it in on points but would need to score maximum points in the races stages and have the drivers ahead of them finish outside the points paying positions or have issues.
“Those guys behind us, we know they are going to awfully hungry,” said Busch.
The green flag for the race is at 2:30 p.m. ET and the race will be televised by NBC and can be heard on Motor Racing Network (MRN) affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.