The race before Championship weekend was sure keeping tensions high – and wearing patience thin with a rain delay at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. The desert decided to test the will of drivers as they sat around for a few hours while the track had to be prepared all over again for the race, turning what was supposed to be a day event, into a “race under the lights.”
That impatience struck on the first lap as Kurt Busch served a penalty for jumping a restart, causing him to have to take a lap around Pit Road while the rest continued on the track. With that, Jimmie Johnson was given the title of leader on the first lap until Kevin Harvick stole that from him a few laps later.
Kevin Harvick continued in first, with Joey Logano trailing almost a couple of seconds behind to try and clench the spot. While those in the front continued to battle it out, there was a wreck between two cars further back – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ultimately pushed Joey Gase against the wall, ruining the rear portion of the racecar. Gase was stalled on the road while Stenhouse almost dragged the car to the garage with its own sustained damage.
The desert decided to change things up with light rain, bringing out a caution and ultimately escalating to a Red Flag. When the rain would not let up enough to let cars back on to the track, the race was called off early, proclaiming Dale Earnhardt Jr. the winner, with Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano clenching second and third place.
In Phoenix, the Championship 4 were chosen and next weekend will finally bring a a Sprint Cup Series Champion to light. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will battle it out in Miami for the Sprint Cup and post-season bragging rights.