AVONDALE, Ariz. — Report by Race Chaser Online West Coast Correspondent Ryan O’Hara — Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America photo —
Five-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick paced the first of two practice sessions today at Phoenix International Raceway in preparation for Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500, posting a top speed of 141.521 mph.
Harvick, who has won three of the past four Phoenix races, looks to earn a spot in the Championship Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup by winning on Sunday.
Kyle Larson will try to score his first career Cup series victory this weekend. He was second quickest and the only other driver above 141 mph.
Larson may have a chance to visit victory lane on Sunday, but has a bunch of hungry Chasers desperate to solidify their spot into the Championship Round.
Chevrolet drivers Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Martin Truex Jr., rounded out fourth through sixth, respectively, while Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch represented the only Toyota drivers in the top 10 (seventh and eighth). Joey Logano and Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10.
Four of eight Chasers finished in the top 10. The rest of the championship contenders finished as listed: Jeff Gordon (12th), Matt Kenseth (13th), Carl Edwards (25th), and Ryan Newman (27th).
Edwards has a pair of wins at Phoenix International Raceway, but had a rough opening practice. The only Chaser that performed worse was Newman, who was 27th quickest.
“Practice did not go very well for us,” Edwards stated. “We are slower. This is not what we want.” “We cannot let today affect tomorrow,” he added.
Knockout qualifying for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 begins on Friday at 6:45 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN. The race commences on Sunday with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.