NASCAR 500 preview in 3 minutes

Everything you need to know about Sunday’s 500 at Phoenix, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Kevin Harvick has won a career-best six times in the Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix, and he starts from the pole on Sunday.

2. Sunday is Kurt Busch’s first race back after NASCAR lifted his indefinite suspension this week. He has been fast all weekend.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished fourth or higher in the season’s first three races. He’s looking for his first win with crew chief Greg Ives.


▪  Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 team was clearly the fastest car all of last season, but the results didn’t immediately show themselves consistently until late in the year in large part because the team had to fight through several first-year “gremlins.” A championship year under their belts has left the No. 4 team just as fast but – so far – without the hiccups, which has produced a team even more dominating than last season, if that’s possible.

▪  One of the best ideas this season has been Fox Sports’ addition of Cup series stars to its broadcast booth during Xfinity Series broadcasts. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have both done excellent jobs so far providing interesting insight to viewers on what takes place on the track during the race and the difficulty a driver and team have to continue to improve on the product throughout an afternoon of racing.

▪  The biggest question around the garage this weekend is whether Kurt Busch will capitalize on yet another “second chance” or if something else will eventually derail his NASCAR career. His record isn’t promising, and something tells me he has received all the “second chances” he’s going to get in this sport.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Kevin Harvick: With all of Harvick’s Cup victories at Phoenix, it seems strange this is the first time he has started on the pole. He certainly doesn’t need any practice getting to the front.

Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has three top-10 finishes in the first three races this season. It took 14 races last year before he registered his third top-10 finish.

Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has raved all weekend about the speed in his No. 2 Ford. Don’t be surprised if he makes the most of the opportunity.

He said it

“Every week is just a new adventure, and it’s pretty special to be a part of a group of guys like this.” – Pole winner Kevin Harvick.


Fords looking for help: While Ford drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano continue to run well this season with Team Penske, many of the other Ford teams have gotten off to slow starts this season, particularly Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports, which has a technical alliance with Roush.

“The Penske cars have been pretty good, and the rest of us have lacked a little bit from where we want to be at,” RPM driver Sam Hornish Jr. said. “We know there is work to be done, and the biggest thing is being able to try to figure out how we do everything in the right way.

“How do we figure out what the Penske guys are doing that is making them better than us?”

Final practice update: Pole-winner Kevin Harvick led the way in Saturday’s final practice session with an average lap speed of 136.555 mph. Matt Kenseth was second, Kurt Busch third, Joey Logano fourth and Jamie McMurray fifth. Busch was fastest in Saturday’s first practice.


Getting there

Race facts 500

Where: Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.

Track type: 1-mile paved oval.

Race distance: 312 miles, or 312 laps.

Green flag: 3:46 p.m. Sunday.

Weather: Sunny with high in the upper 80s.

TV: Fox.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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