With dwindling championship eligible drivers left, Phoenix is a spot that you can see a non playoff driver reach victory lane in fact. While it’s still rare to occur, don’t count this out from not happening on Sunday afternoon. Since 2015, a non playoff driver has won this race twice in the last four years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. did so in 2015 while Matt Kenseth did it in 2017.
If so, who will steal a win?
Among the playoff drivers who can still win and gain a spot to the Championship 4, Kyle Busch hasn’t won since June 2 and Joey Logano hasn’t won since June 10. Both though have won at Phoenix in the past.
The other four left have won in this year’s playoffs. but only one has won at Phoenix before.
That opens the door up for a non playoff winner then.
Jimmie Johnson went 16 of his 18 starts at Phoenix between 2005 and 2011 with a top five finish. He had four wins from 2007 though 2009 and was fourth in his other start that he didn’t win at. He’s a factor. He led 40 laps last weekend in Texas before his crash.
Aric Almirola will be too. His last four Phoenix finishes are ninth, seventh, fourth and fourth respectively. He came home runner-up last weekend in Texas and heads to the desert with a lot of momentum.
Erik Jones could be a factor as well. Jones, has three top 10 finishes in five Phoenix tries.
You can’t leave out Kurt Busch. He just signed a multi year contract extension to remain at Ganassi and has four top 10 finishes in his last five starts on the season. Also, Busch won the spring race at Phoenix in 2015 and has seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts in the desert including a seventh place run in the spring race.