NASCAR Cup series at ISM Raceway in Phoenix: Starting lineup breakdown

Kevin Harvick will start from the pole on Sunday at ISM Raceway as he looks to lock himself into the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kurt Busch looks at Kevin Harvick's record at ISM Raceway and has confidence he can make up the three or four points he will need to potentially earn a championship berth.

That's a lot of confidence, considering Harvick has nine career Cup wins on the 1-mile Phoenix track.

Harvick had clinched a spot in the championship round until his race-winning car from Texas was found to have an illegal spoiler. The 40-point penalty handed to Harvick put him three points ahead of Busch for the final playoff spot going into the race Sunday.

Before the penalty, Busch had been 25 points behind Martin Truex, Jr. for the final playoff spot.

"I feel pretty good [about it]," Busch said. "This week with the penalty, it's like we won two stages without even firing up the engine on our car, and so now we're equal and the job now is to get stage one, stage two and to see how things pan out for the end of the race.

"We finished 10th here in the spring, but we stayed out to try to win Stage 2 and then got buried I think 25th or 26th on that restart and it took us a long time to work our way back to the top 10. We know our job is going to be tough, but we just have to go after it."

The question will be as NASCAR is apparently on a spoiler crackdown -- it looked at all the spoilers Friday and had a handful of teams change their spoilers (penalties in these situations are possible but not likely) -- will that change the dynamic in the garage?

"I don't think you'll see much here at Phoenix," Busch said. "Yes, aerodynamics are important at every race track. If they took an inch off his rear spoiler, that would make a big difference.

"This is one of those old school, short track, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon brawls that you have all these guys in position to work their way towards the championship round in Miami and this is what it's all about."

Brad Keselowski said he couldn't make a prediction.

"There is so much going on with the cars, I honestly can't keep up," Keselowski said. "I wouldn't be surprised if it did nothing; I wouldn't be surprised if it changed a lot of the dynamic.

"I don't know. It's one of those things where hindsight will be 20-20, but I don't know if I have great foresight."

Here is how they will line up for the Can-Am 500:

1. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford): Harvick thought he wouldn't have to worry about Phoenix when he won at Texas, but a penalty for an illegal spoiler has him clinging to the final playoff spot. He must win to clinch a spot in the playoffs if he doesn't want to worry what anyone else does. If he doesn't win and the winner is not Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola or Clint Bowyer, he must earn four more points than Kurt Busch (three if Harvick finishes fifth or better), and not lose 18 points to Elliott (17 if Harvick finishes fifth or better) or 35 points to Almirola. If Kurt Busch, Elliott, Almirola or Bowyer win, Harvick must gain 23 points on Truex (22 if Harvick finishes second) or 26 points on Kyle Busch (23 if Harvick finishes third or better) while also keeping if-they-are-winless drivers Kurt Busch (-3) and Elliott (-17) behind him. But Harvick fans probably didn't want to read all that. He has nine career Cup wins at Phoenix and they -- as well as Harvick -- are focused on getting No. 10, and he proved that by winning the pole at a place where he doesn't traditionally qualify great. But if it looks as if he just has to beat Kurt Busch, he might have to opt for that route to make sure he advances to Homestead.

2. Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet): Elliott must win to guarantee himself a spot, and it would make sense to think he has a shot as he has a second and third in his past two Phoenix starts. If Kurt Busch wins, he must do two of the three: gain 17 points on Harvick, 40 points on Truex, 43 points on Kyle Busch. If Harvick, Kyle Busch or Truex wins, he must do two of the three: gain 15 points on Kurt, 40 points on Truex, 43 points on Kyle Busch. If anyone else wins, he must do three of the four: gain 15 points on Kurt, 17 points on Harvick, 40 points on Truex, 43 points on Kyle Busch. If he finishes second or third, he could own all tiebreakers and need one fewer point in those scenarios. He owns the tiebreaker with Harvick. In all these scenarios, he also must stay ahead of Almirola, who would need to gain 19 points on Elliott (18 if Almirola is top-5).

3. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford): Stenhouse has never led a lap in a Cup race at Phoenix but has two top-10s in the past three races.

4. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske No. 12 Ford): Blaney had top-10s in his first two Cup starts at Phoenix but has finished no better than 16th in his three starts since then.

5. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet): Bowman nearly won the November 2016 race at Phoenix as he led 194 laps and finished sixth following a late-race restart where he battled for the lead and had contact with Matt Kenseth. The Arizona driver finished 13th in March.

6. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota): Busch must earn 31 points (out of a maximum 55 for a second-place finish and sweeping both stages) to guarantee himself a spot. That is a sixth-place finish if he doesn't earn any stage points. If the winner is not Kurt Busch, Elliott, Almirola or Bowyer, he can clinch by finishing ninth or higher even if he doesn't earn stage points. If a playoff driver wins, he must finish ahead of two of these four, not counting anyone who wins Phoenix, who currently are behind him by the margins listed: Truex (-3), Harvick (-25), Kurt Busch (-28), Elliott (-42). He's in good shape -- his past six finishes at Phoenix are fourth, fourth, second, third, seventh and second. He has 10 career Xfinity wins at Phoenix, and won in Cup in March 2005 and trucks in 2011.

7. Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota): Jones won back-to-back truck races at Phoenix in 2013 and 2014 and has enjoyed his Cup races with three top-10s (including a fourth) in his four starts.

8. Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet): Larson has come close at Phoenix with a third and second in November 2016 and March 2017 but has finished outside the top-15 in his past two Phoenix starts.

9. Joey Logano (Team Penske No. 22 Ford): Logano won the November 2016 Cup race at the track but hasn't finished better than 12th since then. But he has no worries -- his Martinsville win has qualified him to be one of the four drivers to compete for the title next week at Homestead.

10. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota): Hamlin has one career Cup win at Phoenix (March 2012). He has nine top-10s in his past 13 starts. He led 193 laps a year ago and 33 laps on March.

11. Paul Menard (Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford): Menard has one top-10 in his past 11 Cup starts at Phoenix, a track where he has never led a lap in 23 starts.

12. Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford): Keselowski has eight top-10s at Phoenix but has only one top-10 finish in his past five Phoenix starts.

13. Martin Truex, Jr. (Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota): Truex must earn 34 points -- a third-place finish if no stage points -- to guarantee himself a spot no matter what anyone else does. If the winner is not Kurt Busch, Elliott, Almirola or Bowyer, he can clinch by finishing sixth or higher even if he doesn't earn stage points. If one of them does win, he has to finish with 22 points more than Harvick (or 23 if Harvick finishes second) or gain three points on Kyle Busch (four if Busch finishes second) while also keeping drivers Kurt Busch (-25) and Elliott (-39) behind him if they don't win. If he runs the way he has in his past two Phoenix starts -- a third and a fifth -- he'll be fine.

14. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford): Busch must win to guarantee himself a spot in the next round. If Almirola, Elliott or Bowyer win, he must do two of the three: gain three points on Harvick (four points if Harvick finishes better than sixth), 26 points on Truex (25 if Kurt Busch finishes second) and/or 29 points on Kyle (28 points if Kurt Busch finishes third). If Truex wins, Kurt must catch Kyle or Harvick. If Harvick wins, Kurt must catch Kyle or Truex. If anyone else wins, he must catch either Truex or Kyle or Harvick. In all these scenarios, he must remain ahead of a winless Elliott (-14), Almirola (-32) and Bowyer (-48). Can he do it? It's possible, but he has been inconsistent at Phoenix as of late. He had five consecutive finishes of fifth, sixth or seventh until the three most recent races, where he has had finishes of 25th, 21st and 10th.

15. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet): Dillon has one top-10 in nine career Phoenix starts.

16. Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford): Bowyer must win to guarantee himself berth to the next round. If he doesn't win, he must gain 51 points on Harvick, 48 points on Kurt Busch, 34 points on Elliott and 16 points on Almirola. Bowyer has led 22 laps in his career at Phoenix and has only seven top-10s in his 26 career starts, but one of those came in March when he finished sixth.

17. Matt Kenseth (Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford): Kenseth's last trip to Phoenix resulted in an emotional victory a year ago. It was his second career victory at Phoenix and it came in his next-to-last race for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has led 117 laps in his past three Phoenix starts.

18. Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford): Almirola must win to guarantee himself a berth to the next round. If he doesn't win, he must gain 35 points on Harvick, 33 on Kurt Busch (32 if Almirola finishes top-5) and 19 on Elliott (18 if Almirola finishes top-5). He will need to be as good as his past two starts at Phoenix (finishes of ninth and seventh) and that still might not be good enough.

19. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet): Byron won the Xfinity race at Phoenix last November (and nearly won the truck race the year before). He was 12th at Phoenix in March.

20. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet): Johnson has four career Phoenix wins but just one top-5 finish in his last eight starts.

21. Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet): McMurray was second in the March 2015 race at Phoenix and third in November 2008, but it is not a good track for him. He has only 31 laps led in his Cup career at Phoenix.

22. Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet): Newman's most recent win (and only win in the past five years) came in a strategy play at Phoenix when he stayed out on old tires for an overtime finish in March 2017. It is his only top-10 finish in his past six Phoenix starts.

23. Michael McDowell (Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford): The Arizona native hasn't had much hometown enjoyment at Phoenix, where he has 15 Cup starts and has never finished in the top 20.

24. AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet): Allmendinger finished sixth in this race seven years ago but hasn't had a top-10 at Phoenix since then.

25. Chris Buescher (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 37 Chevrolet): Buescher hasn't finished better than 27th in his five Phoenix starts. And he didn't have a top-10 finish in four Xfinity starts at the track.

26. Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota): Suarez won a truck race at Phoenix in November 2016. He has two top-10s in three career Cup starts at the track.

27. Matt DiBenedetto (Go Fas Racing No. 32 Ford): DiBenedetto hasn't finished better than 20th in his seven Cup starts at Phoenix.

28. Ty Dillon (Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet): Dillon finished ninth in the March 2016 race, but he typically has finished 14th-to-20th at the track.

29. Regan Smith (Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet): Smith has one top-20 finish (a 20th) in 11 career Phoenix starts.

30. Bubba Wallace (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet): Wallace was 28th in March in his first Phoenix start in Cup.

31. David Ragan (Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford): Ragan has a streak of 19 finishes outside the top 10 at Phoenix. Only two of those were top-20 finishes.

32. Landon Cassill (StarCom Racing No. 00 Chevrolet): Cassill has finished in the 20th-28th range in his last four Phoenix starts.

33. Ross Chastain (Premium Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet): Chastain finished second in the November 2013 truck race at Phoenix. He was 27th in the Cup race at Phoenix in March. The big news: Chip Ganassi Racing announced Friday that Chastain would be full time in the No. 42 Xfinity car next year.

34. Cole Whitt (TriStar Motorsports No. 72 Chevrolet): This is Whitt's 13th (and last) start of the year for the team as he has shared the ride this year with Corey LaJoie.

35. J.J. Yeley (BK Racing No. 23 Toyota): Yeley hasn't made a Cup start at Phoenix -- his home track -- since 2015. He seeks his first top-10.

36. Tanner Berryhill (Obaika Racing No. 97 Toyota): Berryhill has attempted to make one previous Cup race -- at Phoenix in 2015 -- and did not make the field. So this will be his Cup debut. He hasn't competed a NASCAR national series race since 2014.

37. Timmy Hill (Phoenix Air Racing No. 66 Toyota): The team is running under the Mark Thompson-owned Phoenix Air banner so it can run a fresh motor this weekend. Thompson owned the Carl Long-team-prepared car he drove at Daytona. Long had to withdraw last week because all his sealed motors had blown and all he had were fresh motors -- but a part-time team can't run three consecutive races with a fresh motor.

38. DJ Kennington (Premium Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet): Kennington was 31st in the March race at Phoenix.

39. Cody Ware (Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Ford): Ware is making his fourth Cup start of the season. The team is working on a backup car after he wrecked the primary in practice Friday.