Fighting to get in

LAT Images

Denny Hamlin is the only previous Phoenix winner among the four drivers who sit on the outside of the Championship 4 and must and earn a position in the Nov. 17 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His win came back in the spring of 2012.

Ranked fifth heading into Sunday’s race, Hamlin is averaging a 13.6 finish in the five Cup Playoff races at ISM Raceway since 2014. His best fall finish is runner-up in 2012. He led a race-best 193 laps in the 2017 Playoff race only to fall out of the race – while leading – after contact from Chase Elliott.

Hamlin’s 678 career laps led at Phoenix is more than the combined career totals of Joey Logano (296), Kyle Larson (69), Ryan Blaney (108) and Elliott (156).

Larson’s best Playoff showing is third place in 2016 and 2018. He has an average finish of 16.0 in the last five Playoff events at the track. Ryan Blaney, who is tied with Larson, 23 points behind fourth-place Logano, is averaging a 19.7 finish in the three Playoff races he’s competed in at Phoenix – the lowest average Playoff finish among the four drivers needing to race their way into the Championship 4.

Eighth-place driver Elliott, who is 78 points behind fourth-place Logano, has an average finish of 11.3 in the three Playoff races he’s competed in. His best showing in seven career starts at ISM Raceway is runner-up in the 2017 Playoff race.

Kevin Harvick is the only driver in the “Playoff era” who went into the ISM Raceway race not already ranked among the top four in the standings and earned a position contending for the championship in the finale. He was ranked eighth going into the Phoenix race in 2014, earning a Championship 4 berth with his win and going on to earn his first Cup championship the following week with a victory at Homestead. 


Sharing is caring!