Race-day preview of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup in Phoenix
Morning drizzle gave way to partly sunny skies at Phoenix International Raceway as the green flag neared Sunday for the next-to-last race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
In the driver introductions for the Kobalt Tools 500, the crowd gave rousing welcomes to Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, who are expected to decide the Cup title with two races left in the season.
Edwards, seeking his first championship, holds a three-point edge over Stewart, who’s vying for his third title. Stewart is starting eighth in the race, Edwards will start in ninth. Matt Kenseth is on the pole.
Kyle Busch, the polarizing driver who routinely is booed during introductions, got an especially hostile reception following a week in which the driver was heavily penalized for intentionally wrecking a rival a week ago in Texas.
Interstate Batteries has the dominant paint scheme on Busch’s No. 18 Toyota because his main sponsor, the M&M’s candy company, dropped Busch for the last races in response to his actions.
Busch, who has publicly apologized for his behavior, qualified 34th in the 43-car field. But he has to drop to the rear at the start because his Joe Gibbs Racing crew changed his car’s engine in practice Friday.
Look for race updates at latimes.com/sports.
--Jim Peltz in Avondale, Ariz.
Photo: Crew members push Clint Bowyer's car to the garage Sunday prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press