Event: Can-Am 500k (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 16th/29th (Running, completed 320 of 324 laps)
Point Standing: 24th (667 points)
Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske in overtime (Ford)
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) scored a 29th-place finish in Sunday’s Can-Am 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Patrick started Sunday’s race from the 16th position, which marked a career-best qualifying effort for her at the mile oval. While she was able to work her way up to 13th in the initial laps of the race, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet soon developed a bad push, and Patrick dropped back to the 33rd spot before crew chief Billy Scott called her to pit road at lap 72. The team made a green-flag stop for tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments.
Patrick continued to struggle with the car’s handling for much of the race. Scott called for various changes throughout the day – including wedge, air pressure and packer changes and addition of a spring rubber – in an effort to improve the car’s handling. While Patrick noted some improvement, she was multiple laps down to the leader and was unable to make up significant ground in the late stages of the race. Patrick took the checkered flag in the 29th position.
“We came into the weekend with the goal of improving our qualifying results, and at least we were able to accomplish that,” Patrick said. “Unfortunately, today was one of those disaster-type of days for the team. It pushed so bad, and we got caught laps down early and just weren’t able to recover and get a solid finish. I sure didn’t think today was going to end up like this, and I hate it for everyone on the Nature’s Bakery team.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Phoenix by finishing fourth.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fifth.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 15th.
Joey Logano won the Can-Am 500k to score his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Phoenix.
Kyle Busch finished .587 of a second behind Logano in the runner up spot while Kyle Larson, Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 53 laps. Two drivers failed to finish the 324-lap race, which went into overtime and finished 12 laps beyond its scheduled distance.
Harvick and Busch came into Phoenix looking to secure a spot in the Championship 4 next Sunday in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Phoenix served as an elimination race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and both drivers had advanced from the Round of 16 to the Round of 8 in the eight races leading into the penultimate event at Phoenix. In order to move on to the Championship 4, Harvick and Busch were each in must-win scenarios. Alas, Harvick fell 20 points short of breaking into the top-four while Busch ended up 37 points out of the top-four. Matt Kenseth and Hamlin were the two other Chase drivers who also failed to advance.
Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were the drivers that advanced to the Championship 4. All four drivers had their respective point tallies reset to 5,000.
The Sprint Cup season finale takes place Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!