Chase Elliott landed atop the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leaderboard in Friday’s first practice at Phoenix Raceway.
Elliott notched a fast lap of 137.368 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet on the 1-mile Arizona track. The 85-minute session was the opening tune-up for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, Sirius), the final event before next weekend’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr. registered the second-fastest lap in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota, putting a 137.242 mph speed on the board. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney rounded out a clean sweep of the top five by postseason-eligible drivers.
Sunday’s 312-lap race is the final event in the Playoffs’ Round of 8. After Sunday’s contest, the title-eligible field will be trimmed from eight to the final four who will compete for the series crown.
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Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Truex have already clinched three of the berths in the final; Busch and Harvick advanced with earlier Round of 8 wins, with Truex clinching on the basis of points. The five remaining drivers — Brad Keselowski, Hamlin, Blaney, Elliott and Jimmie Johnson — enter the Phoenix race vying for the final available spot.
Four teams had 15 minutes deducted from their practice time as a penalty for being late to technical inspection last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Those with time deductions:
• No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne
• No. 33 Circle Sport-TMG Chevrolet of Jeffrey Earnhardt
• No. 37 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet of Chris Buescher
• No. 72 TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet of Cole Whitt
Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Monster Energy Series is scheduled at 6:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN).