November 6 NASCAR Championship Weekend

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hornaday halves Benson's title lead

Kevin Harvick passed Kyle Busch for the Lucas Oil 150 lead with 50 laps remaining and never let go, taking his sixth Phoenix International Raceway victory in NASCAR's national series on Friday night. The win was the third for Harvick at Phoenix in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series; Harvick won in 2002 from the third position and followed that with a win the next season from the outside of the front row. Harvick's teammate, Ron Hornaday, qualified for the pole and seemed primed to steal away the top spot in the standings from points leader Johnny Benson, but Hornaday found trouble on the race's opening lap. As Busch's No. 51 Toyota - the second starter - challenged for the lead, the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet of Hornaday got loose and clipped its pursuer, triggering a crash that relegated Hornaday to the pits for repairs. Fortunately for Hornaday, Benson too found damage for his Toyota, and in the end Hornaday's 25th-place finish to Benson's 26th-place slot gave Hornaday three extra points on the night to cut the championship margin to three points. To win the race, Harvick passed Busch on Lap 100 and held on for the race's final third to claim yet another victory in the Valley of the Sun.
Jimmie Johnson turned the quickest lap of Sprint Cup qualifying to claim the pole on Jack in the Box Qualifying Day, meaning the No. 48 Chevrolet will start first in his quest to clinch a third consecutive Sprint Cup championship. Johnson's lap of 26.721 seconds (134.725 mph) edged Jamie McMurray's top offering in the No. 26 Ford by 0.02 second. Kurt Busch, David Reutimann, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five. With a Chevrolet (first), Ford (second), Dodge (third), and Toyota (fourth) all represented in the top four qualifying spots, the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil will mark the first race in PIR's 21-year, 25-event Sprint Cup history that four manufacturers are represented in the front two rows of a starting field.
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