Elliott leads first Phoenix practice as he faces must-win situation
Chase Elliott found the speed he was searching for in first practice at Phoenix Raceway on Friday.
On his fifth and final run, Elliott posted the quick lap of session—137.368mph.
With one race to decide the Championship 4, Elliott finds himself in a must-win situation in Sunday's Can-Am 500.
“You want to try to win the race,” Elliott said. “The guy who wins that race is probably going to go on, we saw that last year. We weren’t really in the hunt there last year to win the race. We weren’t in the playoffs anymore at that point, so all those guys, you try to respect them as much as you can when you are not involved in it, but at the same time you want to win.
“Fine line you have to walk there, but just try to get the victory if you can to punch your ticket.”
Martin Truex Jr., was second-quick followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. Brad Keselowski, who is currently fourth in the Monster Energy Cup Series standings was 17th (135.839mph).
Kenseth was the first the car on the track for practice and set the pace with a lap of 135.609mph on his second circuit.
NASCAR waved the red flag at the three-minute mark for a piece of debris in the dog leg. Eleven cars had posted initial runs with Kenseth on top of the speed chart followed by Kahne (133.521), Blaney (132.964), McMurray (132.807), Keselowski (132.920), Almirola , Earnhardt, Menard, Bowyer and Patrick.
Johnson jumped up to second on his first run (133.640mph). Harvick was third quick (143.238) on his first run but was bumped by Erik Jones (134.494) and then Daniel Suarez (134.857).
Ten minutes in, 26 cars posted times. Kenseth maintained P1 followed by Johnson, Suarez, Jones, Harvick, Elliott, Keselowski, Hamlin, Logano, Blaney and Kahne. Kyle Larson, Bowyer, Earnhardt, McMurray, David Ragan, Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Almirola, Allmendinger and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 20 speeds.
Martin Truex Jr., vaulted to third on his first run (135.364mph), Kyle Busch (134.559mph) to sixth, Chase Elliott to eighth (134.338) and Ryan Newman to ninth (134.228mph). Ricky Stenhouse Jr. broke into the top 10 with a lap of 134.363mph for ninth-quick.
Thirty minutes into the 85-minute session, Johnson remained second-quick in a sea of Toyotas. Harvick was sixth followed by McMurray, Stenhouse, Elliott, Newman, Keselowski, Larson, Austin Dillon, Hamlin, Logano, Blaney, Kahne, Bowyer and Earnhardt. Moments later, Kyle Busch moved up to fourth with a lap of 135.303mph. He took over the top spot with a speed of 136.235mph 50 minutes into the session.
With 30-minutes remaining, Busch held P1 followed by Kenseth, Johnson, Truex, Jones, Blaney, Menard, Kurt Busch and Suarez. As more drivers switched to qualifying trim, Larson posted the fastest lap (136.452mph). Blaney cruised up to second (136.245), followed by Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Johnson, Truex, Kahne, Jones, Menard and Kurt Busch.
After the first hour, Harvick (136.358) bumped Blaney to third. Then Elliott took over P1.
“I’m pretty please with the balance,” Elliott said. “I think I could have hit 3 and 4 better.”
McMurray passed Elliott with a lap of 136.612mph, but his time at the top was short-lived. Kyle Busch surpassed him with a lap of 136.877mph followed by Hamlin’s single-lap speed of 136.945mph. With 15-minutes to go, Logano moved up to fourth (136.498mph).
Elliott bounced back to the top spot with eight minutes remaining in the session. Truex vaulted to second with a speed of 137.242mph after 15 laps.
|2||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||15||26.231||0.024||0.024||137.242|
|15||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||26||26.463||0.256||0.008||136.039|
|20||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||14||26.550||0.343||0.019||135.593|
Visser has successful bypass surgery after heart attack
Dale Jr.'s advice for his protege Alex Bowman: "Drop the chip"
About this article