|Ryan Newman won the spring race at Phoenix in March.|
Think of NASCAR's Playoffs this week like a conference championship game, or a Game 7, in other sports where half the contenders say bye-bye. Three drivers, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. have already qualified to advance to next weeks Championship 4. Brad Keselowski is sitting in fourth-place and has a 19-point lead over Denny Hamlin, a 22-point lead over Ryan Blaney and a 49-point lead over Chase Elliott.
“You want to try to win the race," said Elliott who has a 9.7 average finish in three Phoenix starts. "The guy who wins that race is probably going to go on, we saw that last year. We weren’t really in the hunt there last year to win the race. We weren’t in the playoffs anymore at that point, so all those guys, you try to respect them as much as you can when you are not involved in it, but at the same time you want to win. Fine line you have to walk there, but just try to get the victory if you can to punch your ticket.”
Hamlin doesn't have to win to get in like Elliott does, but he's going to need some help with someone like Keselowski having trouble or he just has to win to get the automatic berth.
"We just need to keep digging to give ourselves a shot at a win this weekend," said Hamlin who won at Phoenix in 2012. "That’s the way we’re going to pull this thing off. We’ve been up front to contend for a win at the end of these past two races, and that’s our plan again at Phoenix.”
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