Phoenix Giveth, And Phoenix Taketh Away

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on November 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fortune proved fickle at Phoenix Sunday. A championship contender thinks he’s in, then suddenly he’s not. In the case of Kevin Harvick, he was in, then he was out, and then he was in again. The Can-Am 500 was a war of attrition, and yet somehow, three of the four championship contedners we expected were there at the end of the day.

PHOENIX GIVETH

If you were like me, I expected Kevin Harvick to sail through Phoenix. He dang near owns the place, and at first, that appeared to be the case. The script was playing out fine for the 2014 champion when he cut a tire near the end of the first stage. Add to it a penalty for coming in when pit road was closed, Harvick had a hole out of which to dig.

Through the ensuing chaos that plagued other contenders, Harvick survived the war of attrition and his invite to the big dance is set. What seemed so easy was not for the series leader in wins- eight- along with Kyle Busch, but he pulled through.

Speaking of Busch, Rowdy was every bit as lucky as his brother was unlucky. Busch had the car to take the lead on three occasions, and steered clear of the mayhem and got that ever-important win to get his automatic finals berth. It doesn’t always work this way, but the driver who deserved to win did on this day.

Survive is the operative word concerning Martin Truex Jr. While a 14th place finish was not what he was looking for at Phoenix, the reigning champ managed to avoid the oil, toil and trouble that plagued other contenders.Did you see him slip through that wreck involving Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch? That was close.

PHOENIX TAKETH AWAY

Kurt Busch must feel like the Bad Luck Brian of NASCAR. He had a good car, he led 52 laps and for a while, it looked like he would advance to compete for a title at Homestead, and not his SHR teammate. Not so fast. He ended up passing the pace car on pit road for a penalty. Later, the 2004 champion gets hit by Hamlin, and the ensuing fender bender takes out Chase Elliott.

Chevy’s best hope for the Final Four had his moments as well. Elliott didn’t necessarily seem to have a race-winning car, but one that might be good enough to get him through. In a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, there will be no representative of Hendrick Motorsports in the championship four. What ever happened to the fix being in for Hendrick?

Joey Logano didn’t last long Sunday. With a win in hand, he was playing with house money anyway. Still, no one likes going stumbling into Homestead.

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