Can Am 500 – Phoenix International Raceway

Capacity   51,000
Length         1 Mile
Turns          4
Banking     Turns 1 & 2: 10–11°, Dogleg: 10–11°, Turn 3: 8°, Turn 4: 8–9°, Backstretch: 10°, 8°, Frontstretch: 3°

Elimination Race in the Round of 8

For nine nail-biting weeks now, race fans have watched in earnest as Chase drivers have been eliminated from their shot at the championship and have been whittled down from 16 to 12 to 8.  And now, after 8 lead changes and 9 caution flags in Phoenix International Speedway, all of the calculating and speculating is finally over.  We now know for sure who is advancing to the championship race at Homestead-Miami next weekend: six-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Chevrolet, Carl Edwards in the #19 Toyota, and Joey Logano in the #22 Ford having claimed victory at Phoenix. Kyle Busch in the #18 Toyota will also advance based on points.

The four drivers eliminated from this round of The Chase include Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. Although Harvick suffered problems early in the race, he made an impressive run toward the end despite the threat of overheating.  Ultimately, however, it wasn’t quite enough and he finished fourth.  Matt Kenseth looked as though he would be the driver to claim the Phoenix victory and almost had the race the sewn up with only 2 laps remaining when suddenly the caution flag flew for Micheal McDowell who blew at least two tires and spun out in a plume of smoke. Most cars chose to forego another trip to pit road and remained on the track in order to hold their positions. Kenseth initially won the restart but after receiving the ‘all clear’ from his spotter, he came back down the track in the turn and made contact with Alex Bowman who had been pushed from behind by Kyle Busch.  Kenseth then spun out, leaving Joey Logano to assume the lead and consequently, the win.

Overall, the Can Am 500 was fairly uneventful and a clean race like most of the other chase races this season, with caution flags mainly for debris on the track or for single or two-car spins.

Johnson, Edwards, Logano and Busch will decide the championship Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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