Preview: 2018 TicketGuardian 500 NASCAR Cup Race at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)

Kevin Harvick won the last two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Will he win his third consecutive race in Phoenix?

byT. Walker| UPDATED Mar 11, 2018 11:31 AM
Preview: 2018 TicketGuardian 500 NASCAR Cup Race at ISM Raceway (Phoenix)

As NASCAR continues its journey out West and rolls into Phoenix, Arizona, all talk seems to be focused on Kevin Harvick, but should it be? Sure, Harvick secured a win on the first stop of NASCAR’s West Coast Swing in Las Vegas after winning the previous week in Atlanta for two consecutive wins, but the question remains – can he make it three in a row? Before you answer that, don’t forget that Harvick is also an eight-time Cup race winner at ISM Raceway.

Will pole sitter and the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. ruin the party and drive into Victory Lane? Will Alex Bowman secure a win in his hometown and show why he was chosen to drive the No. 88 made available after Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired? Can short track masters and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who have been racing well so far spoil Harvick’s pursuit for three in a row? Is Jimmie Johnson primed to get back to his old winning ways? Must we look for one of NASCAR’s young guns to step up to Victory Lane? These are all valid questions that should make NASCAR’s second stop out West worth watching. As you decide on who you’re picking to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at ISM Raceway, below is some helpful information you should know.

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 09: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #43 Click n' Close Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 9, 2018 in Avondale, Arizona., Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Image

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule for Sunday at the ISM Raceway (Phoenix):

TicketGuardian 500 (Follow live)

The Place: ISM Raceway (Avondale, Arizona, near Phoenix)

The Date: Sunday, March 11

The Time: 3:30 p.m. EST

TV: FOX, 3:00 p.m. EST

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on lap 312)

Press Pass (Watch live)

Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race: 6:30 p.m. EST

Las Vegas, NV - MARCH 04: Martin Truex Jr. post-race after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Pennzoil 500 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV., T. Walker /

Starting Line-up

(Position, Driver, Manufacturer, Best Speed)

1. Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 136.945

2. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 136.643

3. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 136.126

4. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 136.080

5. Joey Logano, Ford, 135.947

6. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 135.900

7. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 135.870

8. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 135.864

9. Erik Jones, Toyota, 135.829

10. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 135.522

11. William Byron, Chevrolet, 134.791

12. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 134.776

13. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 135.262

14. Paul Menard, Ford, 135.181

15. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 135.074

16. David Ragan, Ford, 135.014

17. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 135.008

18. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 134.998

19. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 134.700

20. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 134.283

21. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 134.238

22. Aric Almirola, Ford, 134.078

23. Kurt Busch, Ford, 133.764

24. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 133.566

25. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 133.274

26. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 133.215

27. Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 133.052

28. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 133.013

29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 132.920

30. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 132.597

31. Michael McDowell, Ford, 131.844

32. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 130.709

33. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 130.378

34. DJ Kennington, Toyota, 129.697

35. Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 128.889

36. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 128.553

37. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 0.000

Avondale, AZ - MARCH 09: The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford during practice for the NASCAR TicketGuardian 500 race at ISM Raceway in Avondale, AZ., Rip Shaub /

Past 10 Winners at ISM Raceway

(Year and Driver)

2008 Jimmie Johnson

2009 Mark Martin

2010 Ryan Newman

2011 Jeff Gordon

2012 Denny Hamlin

2013 Carl Edwards

2014 Kevin Harvick

2015 Kevin Harvick

2016 Kevin Harvick

2017 Ryan Newman

Note: ISM Raceway hosts two NASCAR race weekends. The past 10 winners above represents the first race of the year at ISM Raceway.

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 09: Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Grainger Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway on March 9, 2018 in Avondale, Arizona., Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


Ryan Newman

Last year’s race winner, Ryan Newman has one top-10 finish in three starts heading into Sunday’s race. His win last year during the March race at ISM Raceway broke his winless streak of 127 races without taking the checkered flag. In three race starts this year, the Richard Childress driver has lead 17 laps with an average start of 13.3 and an average finish of 13.7.

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup car drove toVictory Lane after Saturday’s DC Solar 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway. In addition to outlasting fellow cup drivers Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray who both had top-5 finishes, Keselowski overcame a pit-road speeding penalty as well as rain delays to win the Xfinity Series race. Keselowski has now won two Xfinity races at ISM Raceway. Can he sweep the weekend and get his first Cup win at the low-banked tri-oval 1-mile race track?

Las Vegas, NV - MARCH 04: The No. 4 Stewart-Haas team conducting a pit stop during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Pennzoil 500 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV., Rachel Myers / Rachel RGM Photography

Kevin Harvick

Harvick is entering Sunday’s race after receiving a debatable penalty by NASCAR for an issue with his rear window. Spurred on by what most believe to be a photo posted on social media by a fan, NASCAR penalized Harvick for the window and another violation discovered when the car was taken to the R&D Center after the race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ironically, his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford failed pre-qualifying inspection a couple of times on Friday, reducing his practice time for Sunday’s Cup race at ISM Raceway.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson posted the fastest speeds during practice on Friday, However, it was all Harvick on Saturday. Harvick is only starting from the 10th position in Sunday’s TicketGuardian, but he dominated Saturday’s final practice posting the fastest single-lap speed. With thirteen total wins at ISM Raceway across the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series, Harvick is definitely poised as the driver to watch for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.