Ill-Handling Racecar Thwarts Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Driver Throughout Race Weekend
Event: Race for Heroes 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 31st/27th (Running, completed 217 of 219 laps)
Point Standing: 28th with 680 points
Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
When Sunday’s Race for Heroes 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was delayed six-and-a-half hours by rain, a long weekend at Phoenix International Raceway became that much longer for Tony Stewart.
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), struggled with an ill-handling racecar throughout the Phoenix race weekend. It led to a 31st-place qualifying effort on Friday and a 27th-place finish in the race on Sunday.
Enjoying a much better weekend was Stewart’s SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS.
Harvick led twice for a race-high 143 laps before finishing second. It was his 22nd top-five this season and his 11th top-five in 26 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix. The finish was also Harvick’s 27th top-10 of 2015, eclipsing his previous single-season career-best of 26 top-10s in 2010. Harvick has now led 2,248 laps in 2015, breaking his single-season record of 2,137 laps led in 2014 as he raced to the Sprint Cup championship.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished seventh to earn his 20th top-10 this season and his 15th top-10 in 26 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 16th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Race for Heroes 500k to score his 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his third at Phoenix. The victory also secured the manufacturer’s championship for Chevrolet. It is the brand’s 13thstraight title and 39th overall in the Sprint Cup Series.
Finishing behind Earnhardt and Harvick in third was Joey Logano. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five while Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were two caution periods for 29 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 219-lap race around the 1-mile oval.
As the penultimate event in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Phoenix served as the final elimination race. The eight-driver Chase field was whittled down to four following the Race for Heroes 500k. The winner-take-all Championship Round is Nov. 22 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick advanced to the Championship Round, along with Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. All had their respective point tallies reset to 5,000.
Logano, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Keselowski were the four drivers eliminated from the Chase.
The Sprint Cup season finale Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway begins at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC.