Elliott leads first Phoenix practice as he faces must-win situation

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Elliott leads first Phoenix practice as he faces must-win situation
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Nov 10, 2017, 7:37 PM

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. 

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeGapIntervalMph
1 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 26 26.207     137.368
2 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 15 26.231 0.024 0.024 137.242
3 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 27 26.288 0.081 0.057 136.945
4 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 10 26.301 0.094 0.013 136.877
5 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 25 26.303 0.096 0.002 136.867
6 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 13 26.319 0.112 0.016 136.783
7 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 17 26.352 0.145 0.033 136.612
8 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 15 26.365 0.158 0.013 136.545
9 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 33 26.374 0.167 0.009 136.498
10 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 22 26.379 0.172 0.005 136.472
11 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 21 26.401 0.194 0.022 136.358
12 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 22 26.410 0.203 0.009 136.312
13 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 12 26.437 0.230 0.027 136.173
14 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 30 26.455 0.248 0.018 136.080
15 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 26 26.463 0.256 0.008 136.039
16 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 18 26.492 0.285 0.029 135.890
17 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 17 26.502 0.295 0.010 135.839
18 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 24 26.529 0.322 0.027 135.701
19 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 13 26.531 0.324 0.002 135.690
20 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 14 26.550 0.343 0.019 135.593
21 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 13 26.556 0.349 0.006 135.563
22 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 18 26.565 0.358 0.009 135.517
23 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 22 26.617 0.410 0.052 135.252
24 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 26 26.622 0.415 0.005 135.227
25 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 20 26.633 0.426 0.011 135.171
26 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 24 26.649 0.442 0.016 135.089
27 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 25 26.651 0.444 0.002 135.079
28 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 25 26.687 0.480 0.036 134.897
29 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 14 26.742 0.535 0.055 134.620
30 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 15 26.841 0.634 0.099 134.123
31 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 33 26.843 0.636 0.002 134.113
32 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 21 26.928 0.721 0.085 133.690
33 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 16 27.199 0.992 0.271 132.358
34 15 canada D.J. Kennington  Chevrolet 23 27.586 1.379 0.387 130.501
35 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 14 27.608 1.401 0.022 130.397
36 7 united_states Joey Gase  Chevrolet 16 27.649 1.442 0.041 130.204
37 66 united_states David Starr  Chevrolet 16 27.869 1.662 0.220 129.176
38 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 16 28.044 1.837 0.175 128.370
39 00 united_states Derrike Cope  Chevrolet 2 28.308 2.101 0.264 127.173
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Phoenix II
Location ISM Raceway
Drivers Chase Elliott
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Author Lee Spencer
Article type Practice report