Avondale, AZ (3:30 PM ET, FOX): It’s the second part of a three city West Coast tour which started off wacky in Las Vegas, but it appears to have drifted into the Phoenix desert and it’s not weather related. The Good Sam 500 is already in weird mode.
- Hendrick Motorsports appeared to be caught up in the bizarre events which occurred during qualifying. Kasey Kahne was second fastest in Round 2 until smoke came out from under the electronic fuel injection. Until now, there is no known cause as to why, but Kahne was unable to continue. He had to place 24th and now go to the rear since the crew decided to replace the engine.
- Jimmie Johnson was fifth in Round 3 until he somehow could not turn left in Turn 2 and went straight into the wall causing damage. Johnson was puzzled as to why he lost control and praised Phoenix International Raceway for the SAFER Barriers installed. He took will go to the rear with a back up car, while teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr failed to make it out of the first round in 26th, with Chase Elliott qualifying 17th. Long story short, not a good day for Hendrick.
- A Busch grabbed the pole for the third straight week, but it was defending champion Kyle who got it this time. Brother Kurt missed out on a chance to tie his career best third straight pole as he qualified fourth. It was a one-two-three sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing with Carl Edwards taking second and Denny Hamlin third, 2002 winner Matt Kenseth will be sixth. Both Busch brothers each have one win at PIR.
- Kevin Harvick is a seven-time winner in Phoenix winning four of the last five. Harvick is the defending race winner of the Spring race when Junior won the Fall race during the Chase. Kyle Larson gets his first top 10 start in seventh, with Martin Truex Jr eighth. Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn withdrew his appeal and will serve his one race suspension while former crew chief Todd Berrier. Joey Logano gets his third top 10 start in four races qualifying ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr his second top 10 start in 10th.
It appears that JGR is back in the saddle again, and Stenhouse looks to be the driver to lead Roush Fenway Racing back into contention for 2016. This is where things are starting to unravel and no one has any advantage whatsoever. Phoenix can’t get any hotter right now.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law