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.
Denny Hamlin And Kevin Harvick Score NASCAR Cup Wins At Pocono Doubleheader
LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Pocono 350, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader Weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Hamlin beat Kevin Harvick by 3.068-seconds to pick up his fourth victory of 2020 and 41st of his Cup Series career. Hamlin is now tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the most wins all-time at “The Tricky Triangle” with six.
“It’s awesome,” said Hamlin. “I think that’s the most wins I’ve got at any track now. It’s hard to believe because we went through such a dry spell there kind of the middle of my career. We’re doing a great job right now. Like I say, I hate to feel disappointed in a second and first. Man, I really feel like we should have won both races. Just didn’t work out.”
Harvick won Saturday’s race, taking two tires on the final pit stop to grab the checkered flag from a track where he had never won.
“Everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing has done a great job,” said Harvick. “We’ve had really fast cars every time we’ve come to Pocono, just hadn’t got to Victory Lane.”
The NASCAR Cup Series next event is the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a doubleheader with the NTT IndyCar Series.
Ryan Blaney Edges Ricky Stenhouse To Win NASCAR Cup Race At Talladega
TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his first win of the season beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a bumper at the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones made contact on the front stretch, sending Jones into the outside wall as Blaney headed towards the checkered flag.
Inside of Blaney however was JTG Daugherty’s Stenhouse, who was leading hard charge of cars on the inside lane. The pair crossed the Start/Finish line with Blaney prevailing by 0.007-seconds in a photo-finish.
“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” said Blaney. “The 20 got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I am really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team.”
Stenhouse finished second and said he did all he could to get to the front.
“The 20 had a good run,” said Stenhouse. “Then they started banging fenders, slowing each other down. I just kept on the throttle, was able to get close to the nose of the 12 there coming across the line. All in all it was a solid day for us.”
Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola finished third with his rear bumper crossing the Start/Finish line first as he was caught up in the Jones accident.
Denny Hamlin finished fourth followed by Jones who after hitting the wall crossed the line in fifth.
Prior to the race drivers and crew members surrounded Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet and pushed it to the front of the starting grid in a show of support after a noose was found in the RPM garage area on Sunday.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the FBI is investigating and that whoever is responsible for the action will be suspended for life from NASCAR.
Chip Ganassi Condemns Noose Incident At Talladega
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh’s Chip Ganassi is condemning Sunday’s noose incident at Talladega Superspeedway.
Ganassi, who fields the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench Camaro driven by Kurt Busch and the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Cup Series, called the incident “horrific and completely reprehensible” and said now is the time to “rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”.
Ganassi took to his Twitter feed to share those feelings. Here’s the tweet:
“What happened yesterday in the garage in Talladega is horrific and completely reprehensible. Now more than ever is the time for everyone in the sport to rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) June 22, 2020
Ganassi had to do exactly what he tweeted about when he fired former driver Kyle Larson, who uttered a racial slur in an online racing event.
Ganassi’s team also showed their support for driver Bubba Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team. The noose was found in the RPM teams garage.
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) June 22, 2020
Ganassi has been a long-time believer of diversity and gender equality in his race teams, which in addition to the NASCAR Cup Series, includes 3-cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and an upcoming entry in Extreme E in 2021.