The final race of this year's NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup will get underway Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, and Alex Bowman will be starting in the No. 1 position after securing the first qualifying victory of his career on Friday night.
Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott rounded out the top three qualifying performers. The top of the qualifying table can be viewed below, with full results available at FoxSports.com:
|NASCAR at Phoenix Qualifying Results|
|Place||Driver||Final Round Qualifying Time (mph)||Seconds Back|
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won Rounds 1 and 2 of qualifying, respectively, but Bowman bolted ahead of the competition during qualifying's last round with a final time of 140.521 mph.
Bowman's Hendrick Motorsports team congratulated him on the win once the results were final:
Hendrick Motorsports also offered a look at Bowman celebrating with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.:
Looking ahead, all eyes should be on Harvick when Sunday's race in Phoenix gets going.
Harvick is still trying to carve out a spot in the Championship 4 in advance of next Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and he has history on his side when it comes to churning out victories in the desert.
According to NASCAR.com, Harvick has tallied six wins at Phoenix International Raceway since the course was tweaked in 2011.
Plenty of attention also figures to be paid to how Jimmie Johnson (18th in qualifying) and Carl Edwards (ninth) perform.
Although Johnson and Edwards have already clinched their spots in the final four thanks to wins at Martinsville and Texas Motor Speedway, respectively, both drivers are looking to string together momentum in advance of next weekend's finale.
"We could all use practice with pressure because Homestead will bring a lot of pressure," Johnson said, according to ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass. "So pressure is good for us. We will be racing for every point we can race for, even if we are locked in. We will race our race and let everyone else race theirs."
The pressure will be on Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Logano to come out on top, but Johnson and Edwards can't be discounted with a chance to build even more positive momentum with a Sprint Cup title on the line.
"Man, it's amazing," Bowman said of the win, per NASCAR.com. "We weren’t really that strong in qualifying trim in practice (earlier on Friday). I don't really know where that came from, but I just can't thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough."
"To do this in Phoenix, so close to home, means so much to me," he added, per NASCAR.com. "We have had such fast race cars. We haven't had an ounce of luck, but to get a pole here means a lot."
Bowman also received praise from Dale Jr.—whose car he drove to victory on Friday evening.
"This is his hometown, kind of, so it's awesome that all his friends are around to see him do this," Earnhardt said, per NASCAR.com. "This is great for his career. This is exactly what we were hoping to happen for him. Hopefully, he can put it together on Sunday."