Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch top Monster Energy Series practices at Phoenix

Staff Report

Chase Elliott surged atop the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leaderboard in Friday’s final practice at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

Elliott powered the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet to a speed of 138.627 mph at the 1-mile oval. He faces a must-win situation in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to keep his championship hopes alive.

RELATED: Final practice results | Lap averages

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Ryan Blaney secured the second-fastest lap in the Team Penske No. 12 Ford, clocking in at 137.206 mph. Kevin Harvick, a nine-time Phoenix winner, was third-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford.

Martin Truex Jr. — who, like Harvick, has already clinched a title shot — posted the fourth-fastest lap, and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five.

The eight remaining playoff-eligible drivers were all among the top 11 in the 50-minute session. Sunday’s race is the final event in the three-race Round of 8 that will determine the Championship 4 field for the Nov. 17 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch Pole Qualifying to set the starting lineup is scheduled Saturday at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Kyle Busch sits atop first practice

Kyle Busch showed signs of early speed by topping Friday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

Busch landed a best lap of 137.562 mph on the 1-mile Arizona track to put the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota on top of the board. He’ll be aiming for his third consecutive Phoenix victory in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

RELATED: Practice 1 results | Lap averages | Full schedule for Phoenix

Denny Hamlin, a teammate to Busch in the JGR No. 11 Toyota, was second-fastest with a lap of 137.478 mph. Matt DiBenedetto posted the third-best lap (137.169 mph) in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 to complete at top-three sweep by Toyotas. Joey Logano was fourth-fastest with Kyle Larson capping the top five.

Three teams were penalized with 15-minute deductions of practice time after failing inspection twice last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The three penalized teams:

  • No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon

  • No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  • No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson.

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