Kevin Harvick may be rolling off 13th in tomorrow’s The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, but after topping both of today’s Sprint Cup practice sessions, it appears he has the car to beat in the Valley of the Sun.
But it also appears that both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, will also be contenders as well, and may have what it takes to fight Harvick to the checkered flag.
Larson has been impressive throughout the weekend at Phoenix. In Friday qualifying, he was quick enough to make the final round – the only rookie competitor to do so – and will line up eighth on the grid tomorrow. He’s been strong as well in the three practice sessions, where he’s been sixth, fourth, and second-fastest in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.
McMurray has also been solid this weekend. His third-place qualifying effort was especially noteworthy considering that he didn’t qualify in the Top-5 on an oval all of last season (his best oval start was a sixth at Bristol last March). And like Larson, he’s had good practices (14th, second, seventh).
Here are a few others to watch out for…
BRAD KESELOWSKI – Pole sitter
Don’t let the P20 in final practice fool you. With both poles in the Nationwide race (currently ongoing) and Sprint Cup race, Keselowski has the pace to be a contender.
JOEY LOGANO – Starting second
Second, 10th, and eighth-quickest in the practice sessions, Logano appears set to have a steady piece for Sunday.
DALE EARNHARDT JR. – Starting fifth
Another solid performer in practice – he topped the first one on Friday and was fourth and sixth-quickest in the next two.
CARL EDWARDS – Starting 23rd
Working on race trim was his main focus on Friday, but he almost won at PIR last fall from the very spot he’ll be starting on Sunday. Good pit stops should get him up the pylon.