It all started back in Speedweeks to open the season, Ford Performance rolled out a brand-new body to replace the aging Fusion ran previously in the Cup Series. Other manufacturers having done so in recent years had been met with short comings but not Ford Performance.
Paul Menard arguably the strongest in the Clash prior to an incident with Jimmie Johnson that put him out of the race along with three Ford Mustangs finishing top-3 in each of the Duels put Ford on a high note coming off one of their best seasons in years.
While Toyota may have taken to victory lane in the Daytona 500 and Chevrolet in The Clash a week prior Ford has been on a roll ever since.
Heading off to Atlanta the next week two of the Ford Performance Mustangs sat on the front row with Almirola and Stenhouse facing down a green flag start. By the end of the event and a pressing Martin Truex Jr. for the lead, Brad Keselowski was able to take Ford once again to victory lane and the first for the Mustang in 2019.
Las Vegas would be no different with Kevin Harvick scoring the pole for the weekend in the Pennzoil 400. As the race wore down another Penske Racing Mustang would win the day with Joey Logano taking his machine onto victory with team mate Brad Keselowski hot in tow for second in the event.
Four weeks now into the season, Ford, Penske and the Mustang show no signs of slowing down.
Joey Logano may be leading in points and coming off a win in Vegas last week, but after two consecutive fourth-place finishes, its Kevin Harvick who's the favorite to win in Phoenix, with Kyle Busch not that far behind.
Penske team mates Keselowski and Blaney both have started from the pole at ISM with Keselowski scoring nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts.
Meanwhile defending race winner Kevin Harvick is one race win shy of becoming the sixth driver in NASCAR history to win ten or more events at a single track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In doing so this weekend he would join the likes of Petty, Waltrip, Pearson and more.
Harvick meanwhile is still looking to break through on a win in the regular season, after crashing out of the Daytona 500 and rebounding to back to back fourth place finishes in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Kyle Busch comes into the weekend leading 359 laps at the track including 117 in his win back in November.
“You’ve got to have a good car, but you’ve got to have good brakes,’’ said Busch, who drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry. “You’ve got to have a good-turning car, and you’ve got to have a good car that can accelerate off of Turn 2 and go fast down the backstretch.”
“Phoenix is a pretty neat place, even though they made some changes with the repave. The track has worn in with racing and the sun, so it’s getting back to a fun place again. It was interesting to see how the place raced last fall with the change in where the start-finish line is and how that changed the racing.
“For some reason, I’ve always run well there. I don’t know if it’s that I’m comfortable being back close to home on the West Coast, or what. I always have a little more fan support out there, as well. As for the track itself, you’ve always had two distinctly different corners at Phoenix, which makes it fun and challenging all at the same time.”
Green flag for the TicketGuardian 500 is set for just after 3:30 P.M. ET on FOX. MRN and SiriusXM Radio have the call on the radio. Race distance is set for 312 laps(312 miles) with stages set for laps 75, 150 and 312.