Phoenix is a must-win race for Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch face a must-win race in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick finished a solid 6th in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, but that still leaves him 17 points behind fourth place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
For Busch, a disappointing 20th-place finish at Texas after struggling throughout the race placed him 33 points behind the cutoff.
“We just missed the set-up,” Busch said. “It’s a Chase race, it’s kind of important and we missed it again.”
Heading into Sunday’s elimination race, we know that at least one driver will make their way in the final round based on points.
We also know that both SHR drivers need to win, but obviously, only one can do so.
If either Harvick or Busch win at Phoenix, the other will most likely be eliminated from competing for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick can pull out a big victory when needed. Not only that, but with eight career wins at the 1-mile Arizona track, Harvick is always the heavy favorite in the Valley of the Sun.
And, of course, this kind of pressure is nothing new for Harvick. We’ve seen this narrative before.
Twice before, in fact.
Harvick was on the verge of elimination at Phoenix in 2014. He won the race, and then he went on to win his first Sprint Cup championship.
In 2015, Harvick faced an early exit in the Chase, but “The Closer” ramped it up to win the first elimination race at Dover International Speedway to move on to the next round.
Facing the same situation once again, Harvick isn’t panicking.
“We have done it I don’t know how many times,” Harvick said. “So we will just go there and do what we always do and race as hard as we can.”
That's all both Harvick and Busch can do at this point.
Overall, there may be a lot of unknowns heading into Phoenix, but one thing's for sure. We're in for a show on Sunday as teammates prepare to do battle with a championship bid on the line.