The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to ISM Raceway for the Bluegreen Vacations 500 (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for a crucial elimination race leading up to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Six hopeful drivers contend for the two remaining spots in the Championship 4, while other teams look to build momentum.
The 1-mile desert track is a seemingly flat that track features a variable banking of 8-9 degrees in Turns 1 and 2 with a 10-11 degree variation in Turns 3 and 4. The track has a 1,551-foot frontstretch and a 1,179-foot backstretch.
The PJ1 traction compound will be placed in both corners’ high groove, giving drivers lane options from the middle of the track all the way to the wall.
Alan Kulwicki won the inaugural Monster Energy Series race at the track on Nov. 6, 1988.
Teams will run the 2019 rules package used at short tracks throughout the season, equipped with a 750 horsepower tapered-spacer engine. Cars will not have aero ducts.
Each team will be provided three sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for practice, one set for qualifying and nine sets for the race (eight race sets plus one set transferred from practice or qualifying).
The unconventional length of the track and the wide exit in Turn 1 make high top-end speed an emphasis for teams. However, the unique style of racing also requires additional focus on handling in frequent three-wide and potentially four-wide scenarios on the backstretch.
“This being the NASCAR Cup Series’ last short track race of the season, it is the final time we will run this high downforce/high horsepower package,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “There’s really no other track on the circuit that is quite like Phoenix. Its unique configuration is relatively flat, but it also races more like a speedway than a traditional short track.”
– Hendrick Motorsports has won a series-high five of the last 15 playoff races at ISM. With Chase Elliott currently sitting 78 points below the cutline, Elliott must win the race to advance to the Championship 4.
– Kyle Busch has yet to lose a race at ISM since the start-finish line was moved in November 2018. The streak includes two Monster Energy Series wins and one Xfinity Series win — each time starting inside the top six.
– Kevin Harvick has dominated this track throughout his career, winning seven of the last 14. Harvick also leads all active drivers with nine career wins at ISM, his last coming in the spring of 2018.
– Joe Gibbs Racing has led 54 percent of the laps raced at ISM since the start of 2017.
Source: Racing Insights
The final two spots in the Championship 4 are up for grabs Sunday in the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at 2:30 p.m. on NBC and streaming on the NBC Sports App. Listen in to live radio coverage provided by MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Also, follow along on NASCAR.com for live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the live leaderboard, Drive (featuring in-car cameras) and RaceView (subscription: in-car audio, stats, more). Be sure to set your lineup in Fantasy Live and make your picks in the Props Challenge.
2018 RACE WINNER
Busch dominated ISM in last year’s elimination showdown, leading 117 of 312 laps and locking down his spot in the Championship 4. With another win at the track this spring, Busch will aim at completing the trifecta to ensure his contention in another season finale at Homestead in Miami.
ACTIVE PHOENIX WINNERS
Harvick (nine); Jimmie Johnson (four); Busch (three); Ryan Newman (two); Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin (one each).