RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Phoenix International Raceway : 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior fans that waited out the rain delay were rewarded with the HMS driver's third win of the season. 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Phoenix ace Harvick led a race-high 143 laps despite battling a "loose in" race car and a spotty radio. On to Homestead to defend his title. 3. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano failed to make the Championship 4 for the second year in a row, despite his solid finish. He needed to win, but failed to lead a lap. 4. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch also battled radio issues and got too close to the wall on a pit stall that resulted in his team not being able to jack his car up, but the JGR driver came away with a top five and Championship 4 spot, nonetheless. 5. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was hit with a pit road speeding penalty while leading the race early on, but recovered for his 14th top-five finish of the season. 6. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon waded through handling issues in one area of the track but found himself in a favorable spot when the race was called on Lap 219. 7. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch had one of the fastest cars but was black-flagged after jumping the start of the race. He never got back to the lead and was eliminated from the Chase. 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin will ride a top-10 finish into Homestead, where he won't get a shot at a title for the second straight year, but has a chance at his third win of the season. 9. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski needed to win to advance but fell short despite leading four laps. 10. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola has been consistently above average in the Chase and picked up his sixth top 10 of the season at Phoenix . 11. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman clinched his Championship 4 berth with a thrilling move at Phoenix last year, but not much stood out about his 2015 fall race. 12. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards received the free pass on Lap 196 to get back on the lead lap, but didn't have enough time to get to the front, where he needed to be if he wanted to advance. 13. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard spent a good amount of time in the top 10 and was on pace to top his best career finish (ninth) at the 1-mile track before fading a bit. 14. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex got caught a lap down when the caution came out on Lap 196, but his finish was enough to help him advance to the Championship 4. 15. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray finished in the top 15 for the third consecutive race and will look to make it four in a row to close the season at Homestead. 16. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Solid finish for Patrick, who overcame a penalty for having crew members over the wall too soon. 17. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . For the third time this season, Allgaier finished in the top 20 in two of three races. 18. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan finished in the top 20 and got a bonus point for leading a lap -- not too shabby. 19. Erik Jones , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Jones closes out his substitute driver run for Matt Kenseth with his second consecutive top-20 finish. 20. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon has finished in the top 20 for four consecutive races, his longest such streak of the season. 21. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson came away disappointed with his finish after sporting a top-five car all weekend. 22. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears' brakes weren't flowing well, but crew chief Bootie Barker said they looked fine when he brought the car in for a pit stop. 23. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Since his infamous run-in with Jeff Gordon at Phoenix in 2012, Bowyer has just one top-10 at the track. 24. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger reported that his car had no forward drive on Lap 162 in P24, and he stayed right there. 25. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle is still searching for his second top 10 since August and only has one race left to accomplish it. 26. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A disappointing season for Kahne continued at Phoenix , where he failed to lead a lap and picked up his worst finish since 2012. 27. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Hard to believe, but Stewart has just three top-10s in 2015 -- and he didn’t come close to sniffing one at Phoenix . 28. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto got hit by Kasey Kahne on pit road but still managed his best finish since Darlington. 29. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley had a great save early in the race and likely salvaged a better finish than he would've if he hadn't. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland had a vibration in his brakes that plagued him to a finish just inside the top 30. 31. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish had to make an unscheduled pit stop with slight damage on his left rear and came home 31st. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett's 32nd-place finish is his second best at the 1-mile track in his career. 33. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt's finish broke a string of three consecutive finishes inside the top 30. 34. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne was penalized for being too fast on pit road and never recovered. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's finish was his worst showing in the Phoenix fall race since 2010. 36. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt struggled with his No. 34 Ford, which had "no front grip in the tires." 37. Ryan Preece , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Preece improved on his starting position by four places, which is a positive sign for a driver in just his fourth career Cup race. 38. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman struggled with the electric system of his ride, telling his team, "Got power voltage, but it does not crank at all." 39. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton’s Phoenix showing was his worst finish since Charlotte. 40. Ryan Ellis , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Ryan Ellis finished 40th in his Sprint Cup Series debut, but finished two spots higher than where he started. 41. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse went to the garage after a brake issue caused a wreck with Joey Gase on Lap 196. 42. Joey Gase , No. 32 Ford, GoFAS Racing. Gase took significant damage to his No. 32 Ford after a wreck with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . on Lap 196 . 43. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Hill dropped a valve and eventually had his ride let the motor go.
RELATED: Full race results AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Rain shortened Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 , with the next-to-last race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs ending in a red-flag situation after the completion of 219 of 312 laps and with Dale Earnhardt Jr . leading the field -- and thereby getting the win. Kevin Harvick was behind Junior in second place, followed by Joey Logano , Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson . With the race called due to inclement weather, Jeff Gordon , Harvick, Busch and Martin Truex Jr . advanced to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It was the second delay of the day because of weather conditions -- the start of the race was delayed for nearly seven hours. Engines were fired at approximately 9 p.m. ET with the green flag being displayed at 9:27 p.m. ET, putting the event under the lights at Phoenix International Raceway , which underwent a ceremonial race-day name change to Jeff Gordon Raceway to honor the four-time series champion. A competition caution was called at Lap 40. Earlier Sunday, rain began falling around 1:25 p.m. ET and a fleet of NASCAR Air Titan track dryers began circulating the 1-mile track approximately 20 minutes later as precipitation began to taper off. The race was initially scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET. Due to the delayed start, race coverage moved to NBCSN. Coverage is also on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Race officials had seven Air Titans; six conventional jet dryers and two vacuum trucks that assisted with the drying process. RELATED: Best photos from Phoenix There has been just one rain-shortened race among the 38 premier-series events in the track's history. NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace prevailed here in October 1998 in a race cut from 312 to 257 laps. The last night race at the track was in 2010.
RELATED: Race results " See who advanced, who was eliminated post- Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. -- For Kurt Busch , the high hopes for a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title were dented almost before they started Sunday, the result of a first-lap penalty for jumping the initial drop of the green flag at Phoenix International Raceway . For the 2004 champ and three other drivers on an odd, rainy Sunday, there would be no sun in the Arizona desert and no safe passage to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Round next Sunday. Rain brought an early halt to a NASCAR premier-series event for only the second time in 39 races at the 1-mile track, leaving 93 laps on the board and four drivers wondering what could have been over the final stretch. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both entered the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 in essentially must-win situations to clinch a berth in the season finale next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway ; Logano wound up two positions short and Keselowski missed it by eight. Edwards just needed a better points day than the three drivers ahead of him; he fell short by five points, telling his crew "they can't let it end like this" as the curtain-closing showers intensified. The sour taste was perhaps most pungent for Busch, who started in second place but was just inches ahead of pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson once the race started -- nearly seven hours late and with Busch ruled just a split second too soon. "That wasn't a penalty," said Busch, who wound up seventh of the eight title hopefuls after the Eliminator Round cutoff. "That's a reason to start a survey and right now, I encourage everybody to go onto Twitter, my Facebook, my Instagram and follow it, and we're all going to have a survey." Restarts -- an increasingly intriguing topic in the second half of the season -- were again on the front burner in the pre-race drivers' meeting, with four-time champion Jeff Gordon asking if the second-place car could beat the leading "control" car to the start-finish line. The social media jury may still be out, but a NASCAR spokesperson said the ruling was a procedural penalty that race officials stand behind. "Who knows, man?" said Tony Gibson, crew chief of Busch's Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevy. "We've seen guys all year long do that, so it's … I don't know. It's the most inconsistent thing I've ever seen, so it is what it is. We'll just deal with it and go on. "We definitely had a car to win. Just didn't happen. We'll be all right." Busch protested over the radio once the penalty was announced after a brief review, and he eventually served his penalty on Lap 8, stripped of leading the opening laps and left to rally from last place to an eventual seventh-place result. Despite his dismay, Busch was able to find positives in the way his scrappy team responded to its tumultuous season. "I had a great season. We won two races, sat on three poles," Busch said. "We did everything possible to put polish on a season like this and get out there with elbow grease and work hard at it. There's some tarnish that's sitting there. Polish and polish and polish -- that's all I kept doing this whole year." The others dealt with a mixed bag of misfortune, either coming out on the wrong end of a final caution flag that interrupted a green-flag cycle of pit stops and ultimately propelled Dale Earnhardt Jr . to victory, or failing to make up ground on runner-up Kevin Harvick , whose dominance during a four-race Phoenix win streak ended despite leading 143 of the 219 laps. Logano spent the majority of his day among the top five, but couldn't escape the deficit caused by Matt Kenseth 's intentional crash at Martinsville in the round opener. He left Phoenix last among the final eight, but still able to savor a six-win season. "I'm proud of what this team's done," Logano said moments before the race was abbreviated. "We've had amazing runs throughout the year, we've been consistently fast. We showed it again tonight that we've got really good speed in our cars. Our team doesn't make mistakes and it's something I'm very proud of. Today is obviously a high-pressure situation for everyone, and everyone's just been loose and acting like it was a normal day. Couldn't be more proud of this team either way, no matter what happens. I really wanted to get another shot, so we can wait and see." Keselowski, also caught up in one of the Martinsville run-ins, was sixth among the final eight -- a distant 13 points behind final championship qualifier Martin Truex Jr . "I don't think it matters what's fair," Keselowski said when asked about the early end to the next-to-last race of the season. "What matters is what entertains the fans, and if the fans are happy, that's what it's all about." Edwards was vocal on his team radio in his desire to restart the race, potentially waiting out another delay under the lights. The ending left him 12th in the race and fifth in the Eliminator Round standings, five points behind Truex. "How hard they've worked all year to come down to something as simple as a rainout," said Grubb, in his fourth year with Joe Gibbs Racing . "We feel like we could have raced our way back in there and had a shot at it. We were still five points out, just like we were five points coming in. We knew that was going to be a tough situation, but it ended up that it bit us and I just hate it for these guys. I'm very proud to have had a championship in the past and I wanted to help bring one to these guys who have worked so hard for it."
RELATED: Junior wins rain-shortened race Dale Earnhardt Jr . did something for the first time in his 16-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career on Sunday by virtue of his win at Phoenix International Raceway . The Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 win gave Earnhardt Jr. three victories this season. Coming off a four-win year in 2014, it's the first time Junior has ever won three or more races in consecutive seasons. His three wins in 2015 also ties his mark from the 2001 season. Earnhardt's six-win 2004 remains his personal standard when it comes to victories in a season. For his career, Junior has 26 premier series victories -- which ranks him tied for 27th in NASCAR history with Denny Hamlin and NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen.
RELATED: Full race results from Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A serendipitous sequence of pit stops and a drizzle that turned into a downpour made a winner of Dale Earnhardt Jr . in Sunday night’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , the start of which was delayed from day to night by rain in the afternoon. But the race that was halted by the rain 93 laps short of its scheduled distance of 312 laps was hardly the satisfying conclusion for which Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kurt Busch or Joey Logano had hoped. Those four drivers were eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , as defending champion Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr . joined Jeff Gordon in next Sunday’s Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Earnhardt came to pit road for fuel and tires one lap before Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . crashed in Turn 3 to bring out the second caution of the race on Lap 196. While on pit road, Earnhardt crossed the scoring line at the flag stand before Harvick, who had dominated with 143 laps led. And when other lead-lap cars came to pit road under the yellow, Earnhardt inherited the top spot, with Harvick second and Logano third. Before track workers could complete clean-up from the accident, rain began to fall, and NASCAR called the race after the light precipitation became a deluge. “We had an idea that the rain was in the area, but all the circumstances that played out at the end of the race are just kind of luck, I think,” said Earnhardt, who won for the third time at Phoenix , the third time this season and the 26th time in his career. “I want to give (crew chief) Greg (Ives) a lot of credit, and the guys. “They gave us a good enough car to come here and qualify well (third). I think the reason why we won this race is because of the way we qualified to give ourselves a position to be up front all night. When something like this quirky happens we were able to capitalize. It’s a rain-shortened win, but my guys are very proud of it because of how the car ran all weekend and we put ourselves in this position.” The third-place qualifying effort also gave the No. 88 team third pick of pit stalls, and that choice also proved crucial because it put Earnhardt in position to take the lead when NASCAR called the caution. Harvick had mixed feelings about his second-place result. The caution likely cost him a victory, but it also assured his eligibility to defend his title at Homestead. “Yeah, it's kind of bittersweet,” Harvick acknowledged. “The car just really performed well today, and we were able to lead a lot of laps, and just really proud of the guys for the decisions that they made overnight to get that last little bit out of the car today, and how it performed was really good. “Just caution came out at the wrong time, and we didn't get to make up the ground on the race track under green, where Dale was pitted, and the way that they came out of the pits just didn't time out well. But still proud of our group, and sometimes you win some of those things, sometimes you don't, but in the end, the big picture is what it's all about.” Kyle Busch finished fourth to advance to the season finale. Gordon ran sixth, followed by Kurt Busch , Denny Hamlin and Keselowski. Truex came home 14th but edged 12th-place finisher Edwards for the final spot in the Championship Round by five points. Kyle Busch continued his improbable run toward a first series title. Having suffered a broken right leg and left foot in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona, Busch missed the first 11 Sprint Cup events of the year but came back to win four times shortly after his return. With the wins and a top-30 points finish, Busch qualified for the Chase. “When I returned, we did a good job and we won four out of five and put ourselves in a position to make the Chase, and the rules are the way the rules are, and we’re going to make the most of it,” Busch said. “We’re playing with house money, and we’re rolling to Homestead.” Truex, who entered Sunday’s race with a seven-point lead over Edwards, lost a lap during the same sequence of pit stops that put Earnhardt in the lead, but he regained it under the caution on a wave-around and finished two spots behind Edwards to clinch his place in the finals. Driving for single-car Furniture Row Racing , Truex goes to Homestead with confidence. “With the way our stuff has been running here lately, it's been really good, and we were really strong at Texas (last week),” he said. “I feel like what we're taking there (to Homestead) might be a little bit better. “Excited to get to Homestead, which has been a really good track for me over the years, and get a chance to pull off our first win there.” The highest finisher among the four eligible drivers wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Logano, Keselowski and Kurt Busch (who was hit with a pass-through penalty for jumping the start of the race) needed to win on Sunday to make the finals. But the rain made sure they never got a chance at another restart. Logano took the disappointment with grace. “It’s hard to play the race with rain in the area,” Logano said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, but you just hope there’s another shot. You hope that there’s a restart and if two of them slip up and you’re able to put it three-wide on the bottom, or do something like that -- but just didn’t ever have the opportunity there at the end. “We had plenty of opportunities to try to get ourselves to the front, we just weren’t as fast as the 4 (Harvick). We were a solid second-place car, but Junior timed it out really well when they pitted to that caution, and it worked out really well for them.” Note: Chevrolet clinched its 13th straight manufacturer’s championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, 39th overall ... Hendrick Motorsports swept the Eliminator Round of the Chase with Gordon winning at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson at Texas and Earnhardt at Phoenix .
Watch a condensed version of the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 from Phoenix International Raceway , which was renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for Sunday's event, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes advantage of pit selection to capture the win.
RELATED: See the full results The Championship 4 has been determined following the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , which ended at Lap 219 of a scheduled 312 due to rain. Four in, four out: Here's the bubble picture following Phoenix . The four drivers below the line failed to advance to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway while the four drivers above the line will be racing on Sunday, Nov. 22 for the title in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . 1. Kevin Harvick 2. Jeff Gordon 3. Kyle Busch 4. Martin Truex Jr . --------------- 5. Carl Edwards 6. Brad Keselowski 7. Kurt Busch 8. Joey Logano Reason for hope: As the defending race winner, Kevin Harvick is looking to defend his title. Out of the Championship 4, "Happy" has the best average finish at 7.6 at Homestead. Reason for worry: In 10 starts, Kyle Busch only has three top 10 finishes at the Florida track and finished 39th last year. To add to that, "Rowdy" has an average finish 23.1 and hasn't led any laps there since 2012. Up next: Ford EcoBoost 400 , 3 p.m. ET, Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (NBC/Live Extra, MRN, Sirius XM) Who it favors Most wins: Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick (one win each) Best driver rating: Martin Truex Jr ., 106.6 Best average finish: Kevin Harvick , 7.6 Who it hurts Fewest top 10s: Kyle Busch , 3 Worst driver rating: Kyle Busch , 91.5 Worst average finish: Kyle Busch , 23.1
RELATED: Johnson tops Friday's practice Practice 3 " Full results Kurt Busch proved Kevin Harvick wasn't the only Stewart-Haas Racing car favored for the win Sunday, as he swept both Sprint Cup Series practices on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway . Busch's No. 41 Chevrolet zipped around the Arizona track at 140.029 mph to nab the fastest spot in the final session. Polesitter Jimmie Johnson made a late run to briefly top the leaderboard in Saturday's final practice session at Phoenix International Raceway . His No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet's fast lap of 139.389 mph ultimately earned the second spot. Dale Earnhardt Jr . posted the third-fastest speed, his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet flying around the 1-mile oval at 139.130 mph. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Kyle Larson nabbed the fourth spot with a fast lap of 138.910 from his No. 42 Chevrolet. Reigning series champion Kevin Harvick , who has won four straight races at Phoenix , rounded the 1-mile oval at 138.905 mph to pick up the fifth-fastest speed. Erik Jones , who is filling in for Joe Gibbs Racing 's Matt Kenseth this weekend, showed plenty of speed in the No. 20, as he posted a speed of 138.905 mph to pick up the sixth spot. Jeff Gordon was the slowest of the eight remaining Chase drivers in the final session, maneuvering his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 137.905 mph to rank 20th-fastest. With his win at Martinsville two weeks ago, Gordon is the only driver locked into the championship round at Homestead. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Practice 2 " Full results Kurt Busch opened the day on a strong note, topping the first of two Sprint Cup Series practice sessions on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway . Busch, who qualified second for Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM), paced the morning run through with a best speed of 139.627 mph. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver's fellow Chase for the Sprint Cup competitor, Carl Edwards , was second on the charts at 139.260 mph. Kyle Larson (139.152 mph), Kevin Harvick (139.147 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (139.028 mph) rounded out the top five. Friday's practice leader and Coors Light Pole Award winner, Jimmie Johnson , was sixth at 138.878 mph. The rest of the Chase field placed as follows: Martin Truex Jr . (8th, 138.680 mph); Joey Logano (9th, 138.680 mph); Kyle Busch (13th, 138.265 mph); Brad Keselowski (14th, 138.233 mph) and Jeff Gordon (18th, 138.021 mph). Sprint Cup cars are back on track for final practice at 2:30 p.m. ET with coverage on NBCSN/Live Extra.
Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their predictions for the final race of the Eliminator Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Phoenix International Raceway , which was renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for Sunday's event ( Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 , 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). Kevin Harvick has won the last four races at the 1-mile track. Can he be stopped from winning his fifth in a row? Zack Albert Kevin Harvick : Failing a blow-up or some other catastrophic outcome, it's hard to go against the chalk and the No. 4 team, which has led more than two-thirds of the laps in the last three Phoenix races. Expect Harvick to defend his 2014 crown with Phoenix as a launching pad. Kenny Bruce Kurt Busch . Starting on the front row, fastest in both Saturday practices and likely needing a win to advance to the Championship Round, the 41 gets it done. Brad Norman Kurt Busch . It's a dream scenario for Stewart-Haas Racing as Busch wins his way into the finale, where Kevin Harvick will join him to defend his title. George Winkler Jimmie Johnson : After crossing the finish line first at Texas, Johnson exclaimed, "We're back!" And who are we to argue with a six-time champion? When Johnson gets on one of his patented rolls, look out. "Six-Time" ties "The Intimidator" with win No. 76 from the pole. Kathy Sheldon Kevin Harvick . A win locks in his spot in the Championship 4 and the chance to defend his 2014 Sprint Cup title at Homestead. Bad luck already bit the No. 4 this round, so it will be smooth sailing for Harvick at Phoenix , where his prowess is unmatched lately. Pat DeCola Joey Logano : My Eliminator Round picks have been spot on thus far, so why not pick the driver who was perfect in the Contender Round to keep the streak alive? Logano is looking to rebound from two rough outings at Martinsville and Texas. He needs to win at Phoenix -- and he will. RJ Kraft Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver has been in a win-or-go-home spot before and come through successfully (see Talladega, 2014). A disappointing starting spot combined with his position in the standings will allow crew chief Paul Wolfe to be super aggressive with his calls to lead Keselowski to his desert destiny and win at Phoenix . Jessica Ruffin Kurt Busch : Busch has been consistently strong this weekend, running in the top three in practice and nabbing a front-row starting position. He's also in the same equipment as Phoenix pro Kevin Harvick , with all the motivation he needs in the form of a final four Chase spot -- and a chance at the title. Maggie MacKenzie Kevin Harvick : The undisputed King of Phoenix has an incredible seven wins at the 1-mile track and has emerged the victor in the last four races there. There’s no reason why Harvick won’t be able to make it eight trips to Victory Lane after coming off some strong runs at Martinsville (eighth) and Texas (third). With a career total of 1,202 laps led at Phoenix , expect "Happy" to dominate the leaderboard.
For one day only, Phoenix International Raceway will change its name to Jeff Gordon Raceway as a tribute to the four-time NASCAR champ's final season and last race in the Arizona desert. His name may not be hanging above the gate on race day Sunday, but thanks to a recent run of smashing success, the 1-mile track may as well be Kevin Harvick 's house. The dominance of a four-race Phoenix win streak makes Harvick a heavy favorite heading into Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), the next-to-last race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. The 312-lap event will whittle the field of title-eligible drivers from eight to four ahead of the Nov. 22 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Harvick's status as Phoenix's stone-cold lock has traction, with Chase rival Kyle Busch proclaiming after last Sunday's event in Texas: "I do not think it's a winnable race until Kevin Harvick gets beat." Only Gordon's spot among the final four is secure, thanks to his victory at Martinsville. If Harvick is such a certainty, are the remaining six Chasers vying for a solid points day and hoping for the best? The jury is still out. "All reigns come to an end," title contender Brad Keselowski said during a test last month at the 1-mile track. "Every driver has had a track that he dominates on and it changes. Jimmie (Johnson) dominated here for a long time and obviously that's not been that case as of late. The way you beat somebody or break that domination is you go out, you go to work and you try to do better." Harvick's track history since 2012 is unparalleled. He has scored seven of his 31 Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix and has led more than two-thirds of the laps in his most recent three victories. Last season, Harvick led 264 of 312 laps to springboard into the final race at Homestead, where he roared to his first Sprint Cup crown in the first year of the new-look Chase format. This season, Harvick sits third in the standings -- five rungs up from last year's cellar-dweller position entering the semifinal race. Despite the potential for reduced urgency from the Stewart-Haas No. 4 camp, Harvick's rivals aren't expecting any let-up. "We look at the points situation and guarantee Harvick winning that race," Busch said, referencing a Harvick "stranglehold" on Phoenix . "Then you have to figure out who you're racing after that to know what you have to do in order to point your way through. If we can go out there and win the race, then we will. As far as we're concerned, that's how we look at it." Four drivers still in the title hunt -- Gordon, Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr . -- participated in an Oct. 14 open test at Phoenix , experimenting with some rules under the 2016 configuration, but keeping the primary focus on preparing for a pivotal race in the Chase. Neither Kyle Busch nor Carl Edwards -- title contenders both -- attended, but teammate Matt Kenseth gathered extensive data to be shared among Joe Gibbs Racing 's four-car effort. Practice, qualifying and the race will tell whether any of the extra rehearsal will make a dent in Harvick's hot streak, altering the complexion of the Chase. Jimmie Johnson -- who's had his own dominant stretches at Dover and Martinsville over the course of his career -- knows it won't be easy, despite how Harvick has made it look. "Anybody with a streak at a particular track, you've got to show up with realistic expectations but enough swagger knowing it's a track that's good for you, then go get it done," Johnson said after last weekend's victory at Texas Motor Speedway . "It's so hard to make it through an entire weekend, make it through an entire race. We saw the flat tires today, mechanical issues, racing issues that can pop up. " Phoenix is a tight little scrappy race track. The streak with four wins in a row is impressive. That's not an easy place to get it done."