NASCAR announced the news on November 5 ahead of the final qualifying session of the season. The release noted that the No. 7 of Spire Motorsports, the No. 17 of RFK Racing, and the No. 78 of Live Fast Motorsports all failed inspection two times. They each lost a crew member for the race weekend at Phoenix.
All three entries passed inspection on the third attempt. This means that they were able to still post qualifying laps. They also avoided having to serve a pass-through penalty at the start of the Cup Series season finale.
BJ McLeod will start the race 33rd overall next to Cody Ware while Corey LaJoie will line up 27th overall next to Daniel Suarez. Chris Buescher will have the best spot among the drivers that had multiple inspection failures. He will line up 19th overall and next to Michael McDowell.
Championship 4 Drivers Had Significantly Different Starting Positions
The championship four drivers — Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, and Ross Chastain — all passed inspection without issues, so they were all able to keep their crew members for the pivotal race weekends.
These drivers went through qualifying on the morning of November 5, but only two performed well. Logano and Elliott both reached the second round; the Team Penske driver went on to win the Busch Light Pole while Elliott posted the fifth-fastest time.
Bell and Chastain, however, did not turn in the laps that they desired. Bell had the 17th-fastest lap, which buried him on the ninth row. Chastain had the 25th-fastest time, which put him on the 13th row with Justin Haley.
Both Bell and Chastain will face a steep task as they suit up for the championship race. They will have to work their way through traffic in order to put themselves within reach of the other two championship four drivers.
Winning the Pole Was Important for Logano
The qualifying session on November 5 was quite important for Logano and the No. 22 team. He set out with plans to capture the pole and set himself up for success, which is exactly what he did with the fastest lap.
“It keeps the pressure on them,” Logano said during a press conference at Phoenix Raceway. “That’s the goal. When you get here it keeps the pressure on the competition. This team does amazing under the pressure and that’s why we thrive in playoffs and Championship Four-type moments. I love it. It makes me better and I think it makes my whole race team better as well.”
Logano continued and explained why it was equally important to capture the first pit stall. He said that he has faith in his crew and their ability to complete solid stops. However, he also noted that the camera line is right in front of the first pit stall, which will provide an advantage during the frantic late-race stops that could determine the outcome.