Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, wins the Quickens Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway being declared the winner just after 11:40 p.m. ET. Pit strategy gave Earnhardt Jr. the lead, leading the final 21 laps of the race under caution before the rains came back to the mile track in the desert.
Earnhardt Jr. has 26 career victories in 576 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and claimed his third win of the 2015 season and 22 top-10 finishes. Earnhardt Jr. now has three victories at Phoenix, back-to back fall races in 2003 and 2004, prior to a spring race at the track and 2015.
“You like to win on at the checkered flag, but a wins a win, you take it and put it in the record book,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “My team guys are very proud of this because they gave me a great car to get a good qualifying effort in and we qualified so poorly all year and the reason why we won tonight, I think, is how we qualified this weekend. A win is a win.”
The 312 lap race was scheduled to begin with the drop of the green flag at 2:41 p.m. ET, but rain began beating the track about 75 minutes prior the the start time. When the rain stopped, NASCAR Air Titan track dryers began revolving around the one mile oval in an attempt to dry the surface. After nearly seven hours the green flag dropped at 9:27 p.m. ET. But as the rain returned just prior to 11:30 p.m. ET, forcing NASCAR to issue the red flag and bring the cars to pit road with a little fewer than 100 laps remaining. When it began raining harder and more rain in the forecast, NASCAR made the decision to call the race and declare it official
Earnhardt Jr. was able to take the lead after regular green flag pit stops when the caution came out for a wreck involving Joey Gase, driving the #32 R Factor 2 Ford and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driving the #17 Cargill Ford on Lap 197. Earnhardt Jr. was able to beat the leader back to the start/finish line exiting his pits; the #88 Chevrolet’s pit stall was just before the start/finish line, with the service completed on the racecar Earnhardt Jr. was able to take the lead ahead of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano who had already made their pit stops, the race never returned to green flag conditions.
With the completion of the Eliminator Round, the Chase drivers are set for the Championship Finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jeff Gordon (4 time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion) Harvick (the defending 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion), Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the four drivers able to claim the Championship title by having the best finishing position in the race.
The Ford-Eco Boost 400 from Homestead-Miami will have qualifying for the finale on Friday, November 20 with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSP. The race will begin at 3 p.m. ET with coverage on NBCSP.