2015 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500
The 2015 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held on November 15, 2015, at ISM Raceway (Phoenix International Raceway) in Avondale, Arizona. Contested over 219 laps – shortened from 312 due to rain – on the one mile (1.6 km) oval, it was the 35th race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, ninth race of the Chase and final race of the Eliminator Round. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the race, his third of the season. Kevin Harvick finished second. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five.
|Race 35 of 36 in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series|
|Date||November 15, 2015|
|Location||Jeff Gordon Raceway in Avondale, Arizona|
Permanent racing facility|
1 mi (1.6 km)
|Distance||219 laps, 219 mi (350.4 km)|
|Scheduled Distance||312 laps, 312 mi (499.2 km)|
|Weather||Cloudy with a temperature of 65 °F (18 °C); wind out of the east at 8 mph (13 km/h)|
|Average speed||106.512 mph (171.414 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|No. 88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte|
2.2 Million viewers
|Radio in the United States|
|Booth Announcers||Jeff Striegle, Alex Hayden and Rusty Wallace|
|Turn Announcers||Dan Hubbard (1 & 2) and Kyle Rickey (3 & 4)|
Johnson won the pole for the race and led 44 laps on his way to a fifth–place finish. Harvick led a race high of 143 laps on his way to a runner-up finish. There were eight lead changes among seven different drivers, as well as two cautions for 29 laps.
This was the 26th career victory for Earnhardt, third of the season, third at Phoenix International Raceway and 10th at the track for Hendrick Motorsports. It moved him to seventh in the points standings. The win clinched Chevrolet its 39th overall – 13th consecutive – manufacturer's championship. It would ultimately prove to be Earnhardt's final career victory before his retirement in 2017.
The Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 was carried by NBC Sports on the cable/satellite NBCSN network for the American television audience. The radio broadcast for the race was carried by the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Phoenix International Raceway (Jeff Gordon Raceway) – also known as PIR – is a one-mile, low-banked tri-oval race track located in Avondale, Arizona. It is named after the nearby metropolitan area of Phoenix. The motorsport track opened in 1964 and currently hosts two NASCAR race weekends annually. PIR has also hosted the IndyCar Series, CART, USAC and the Rolex Sports Car Series. The raceway is currently owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation.
The raceway was originally constructed with a 2.5 mi (4.0 km) road course that ran both inside and outside of the main tri-oval. In 1991 the track was reconfigured with the current 1.51 mi (2.43 km) interior layout. PIR has an estimated grandstand seating capacity of around 67,000. Lights were installed around the track in 2004 following the addition of a second annual NASCAR race weekend.
Phoenix International Raceway is home to two annual NASCAR race weekends, one of 13 facilities on the NASCAR schedule to host more than one race weekend a year. The track is both the first and last stop in the western United States, as well as the fourth and penultimate track on the schedule.
Jeff Gordon entered with a two–point over Kyle Busch. Kevin Harvick entered third three–points back. Martin Truex, Jr. entered fourth six–points back. Carl Edwards entered fifth 13–points back. Brad Keselowski entered sixth 19–points back. Kurt Busch entered seventh 34–points back. Joey Logano entered eighth 69–points back.
Jeff Gordon RacewayEdit
On June 11, 2015, Phoenix International Raceway announced that it would be renamed Jeff Gordon Raceway for the Sprint Cup Series race. Track President Bryan Sperber said that they "were thinking of it like an athlete getting the keys to the city. It (the idea) took off from there. Starting with the quirky layout of our track, it seems like Phoenix always does things a little different. We're the next-to-last race so a lot of good ideas will already have been implemented at other venues. We thought, 'We better step up our game' and do something really cool, that the fans can be a part of, that what we do for Jeff is remembered."
The following Chase-clinching scenarios were in play for the weekend's race.
- Jeff Gordon: Clinched by virtue of his Martinsville victory.
- Kyle Busch: Would have clinched with either a finish of third or better, fourth and at least one lap led or fifth and most laps led. (Finished fourth with one lap led)
- Kevin Harvick: Would have clinched with a finish of second or better, third and at least one lap led or fourth and most laps led. (Finished second with most  laps led)
- Martin Truex, Jr., Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch: All four could only guarantee advancement with a win, but could also qualify on points depending on how the rest of the Chase drivers do. (Truex Jr. finished 14th, Edwards 12th, Keselowski ninth and Kurt Busch seventh)
- Joey Logano: Could only advance via a win (point deficit too big for advancement on points). Finished third.
The entry list for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 was released on Monday, November 9 at 1:23 p.m. Eastern time. Forty-three cars were entered for the race. Ryan Ellis made his Sprint Cup Series debut in the No. 33 Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet. Ryan Preece drove the No. 98 Premium Motorsports Ford. Erik Jones drove the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota while Matt Kenseth served the second of his two–race suspension.
|1||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.383||141.827|
|2||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||25.391||141.783|
|3||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.429||141.571|
|Official first practice results|
Jimmie Johnson won the pole with a new track record time of 25.147 and a speed of 143.158 mph (230.390 km/h). He said that his team "didn’t have the summer that we wanted, but these guys have been working so hard on the No. 48 team and at Hendrick Motorsports. So, I’m very happy to see the progress and the direction things are going. It’s been a little bit, everywhere. If we keep doing that, we’re going to close this season out just like we want to and be ready for 2016.” Kurt Busch, who qualified second, said he felt that he "let the team down a little on that lap because our car is better than that. But starting upfront here is a big advantage and we’ll work on the car a little tomorrow to fine tune and be ready to go out and race on Sunday and hope for a win.” Joey Logano, who qualified 14th, said that he "just missed it a little bit. I wish we were in the next round and going for a pole, but the fact of the matter is we’re gonna start 14th and we’re gonna work on our car tomorrow and get it ready to win a race on Sunday.”
|1||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.688||25.306||25.147|
|2||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.445||25.178||25.196|
|3||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.661||25.309||25.249|
|4||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||25.610||25.310||25.263|
|5||78||Martin Truex, Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Chevrolet||25.765||25.386||25.300|
|6||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||25.448||25.305||25.301|
|7||20||Erik Jones (i)||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||25.655||25.344||25.313|
|8||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.552||25.319||25.340|
|9||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.561||25.397||25.341|
|10||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||25.489||25.404||25.382|
|11||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.399||25.319||25.458|
|12||1||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||25.804||25.385||25.458|
|13||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||25.440||25.412||—|
|14||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||25.489||25.419||—|
|15||27||Paul Menard||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||25.747||25.461||—|
|16||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||25.604||25.470||—|
|17||43||Aric Almirola||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||25.629||25.481||—|
|18||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||25.672||25.483||—|
|19||17||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||25.725||25.542||—|
|20||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||25.708||25.588||—|
|21||10||Danica Patrick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.580||25.645||—|
|22||31||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||25.736||25.663||—|
|23||47||A. J. Allmendinger||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||25.746||25.668||—|
|24||13||Casey Mears||Germain Racing||Chevrolet||25.736||25.763||—|
|25||51||Justin Allgaier||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.808||—||—|
|26||6||Trevor Bayne||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||25.814||—||—|
|27||15||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||25.850||—||—|
|28||9||Sam Hornish, Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||25.878||—||—|
|29||55||David Ragan||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||25.916||—||—|
|30||83||Matt DiBenedetto (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||25.918||—||—|
|31||14||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.948||—||—|
|32||40||Landon Cassill (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||26.047||—||—|
|33||26||J. J. Yeley (i)||BK Racing||Toyota||26.056||—||—|
|34||38||David Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||26.110||—||—|
|35||7||Alex Bowman||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevrolet||26.112||—||—|
|36||46||Michael Annett||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||26.125||—||—|
|37||23||Jeb Burton (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||26.278||—||—|
|38||35||Cole Whitt||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||26.312||—||—|
|39||32||Joey Gase (i)||Go FAS Racing||Ford||26.326||—||—|
|40||34||Brett Moffitt (R)||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||26.381||—||—|
|41||98||Ryan Preece||Premium Motorsports||Ford||26.571||—||—|
|42||33||Ryan Ellis (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||26.724||—||—|
|43||62||Timmy Hill (i)||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||27.375||—||—|
|Official qualifying results|
|1||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.783||139.627|
|2||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||25.851||139.260|
|3||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||25.871||139.152|
|Official second practice results|
|1||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||25.709||140.029|
|2||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.827||139.389|
|3||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||25.875||139.130|
|Official final practice results|
The race was scheduled to start at 12:45 p.m., but rain showers delayed the start of the race. After a delay of over six and a half hours, the cars began rolling off pit road just after 7:00 p.m. Under a clear night Arizona sky, Jimmie Johnson led the field to the green flag at 9:27 p.m. He wouldn't lead the first lap though. That honor went to Kurt Busch. He wouldn't be credited with leading those laps, however, after he was black-flagged for beating the control car (the leader) to the line on the initial start and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty. Following the race, Busch said he "had no reason to jump the start. I had no reason to get excited. We (thought we) had 312 laps to go race. But we’ve had a great season.” As a result, Johnson was credited with leading those seven laps. The first caution of the race flew on lap 41. This was a scheduled competition caution because of the rain. Kevin Harvick exited pit road with the lead after taking just right-side tires. Johnson was tagged for speeding on pit road. Danica Patrick was tagged for her crew being over the wall too soon. Both restarted the race from the tail-end of the field.
The race restarted on lap 48. The heavy betting favorite proceeded to drive away from the rest of the top-10 cars and put everyone up to 20th down a lap. Joey Logano kicked off a round of green flag stops on lap 119. Race leader Harvick pitted on lap 120 and handed the lead to Kyle Busch. He pitted the next lap and handed the lead to Brad Keselowski. He pitted on lap 124 and handed the lead to David Ragan. He pitted on lap 126 and the lead cycled back to Harvick. Trevor Bayne and Keselowski were both tagged for speeding on pit road and were forced to serve drive-through penalties.
Logano was the first on pit road at lap 194 to kick off the next round of stops. Harvick pitted the next lap and handed the lead to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He pitted the next lap and handed the lead to Jeff Gordon. The second caution of the race flew on lap 196 for a two-car wreck in turn 3. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. got loose, hit the back of Joey Gase and sent them both into the wall. Earnhardt opted not to pit – having just made his stop prior to the caution – and assumed the race lead.
After three attempts to restart the race were waived off because of a safety vehicle sitting on the track in turn 4, the field continued to be under caution due to rain. The race was red-flagged on lap 220. After a few minutes, NASCAR called the race and Earnhardt was declared the winner for the 26th and final time in his career, similar to the rain-shortened 2015 Quicken Loans 400 in June when Kurt Busch scored his second win of the season. His victory also clinched the manufacturer's championship for Chevrolet.
Earnhardt said that his team "had an idea that the rain was in the area, but all the circumstances that played out at the end of the race are just kind of luck I think. I want to give Greg (Ives, crew chief) a lot of credit and the guys. They gave us a good enough car to come here and qualify well. I think the reason why we won this race is because of the way we qualified to give ourselves a position to be up front all night."
After a second-place finish clinched his spot in the championship race, Harvick said that he didn't "want to be greedy and be disappointed with how it went today when you look at the big picture. I think it's definitely been a Chase that's been a little bit up and down for us, but the guys have battled through, and we've survived a lot of situations to be in contention for next week. You always want to win when you have a car like we did today, but I'll take it again next week." He also added that, while losing the race was bittersweet, his Budweiser Chevrolet "just really performed well today and we were able to lead a lot of laps and just really proud of the guys for the decisions that they made overnight to get that last little bit out of the car today and how it performed was really good. Just caution came out at the wrong time, and we didn't get to make up the ground on the racetrack under green, where Dale was pitted and the way that they came out of the pits just didn't time out well. But still proud of our group, and sometimes you win some of those things, sometimes you don't, but in the end the big picture is what it's all about.”
After a third-place finish wasn't enough to advance Logano to the championship race, he said that it's not easy "to play the race with rain in the area. You don’t know what’s gonna happen, but you just hope there’s another shot. You hope that there’s a restart and if two of them slip up and you’re able to put it three-wide on the bottom, or do something like that, but just didn’t ever have the opportunity there at the end. We had plenty of opportunities to try and get ourselves to the front, we just weren’t as fast at the 4 (Kevin Harvick). We were a solid second place car, but (Dale Earnhardt) Junior timed it out really well when they pitted to that caution and it worked out really well for them.” He also said that he "can't help the weather. I guess it wasn’t in the cards tonight, but I’m still super proud of what this Pennzoil team has done all year.”
Following a fourth-place finish that advanced Kyle Busch to the championship race, he said that he was gratified with "this team. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens and these guys, they worked hard and they persevered all through the beginning part of the season when I was gone working with David Ragan, Erik Jones and Matt Crafton and those guys that drove my race car. But once I was able to return, it felt pretty good to get back in the car and have my team guys motivated and ready to have me back, and we've really excelled since then.”
Following a sixth-place finish, Gordon said that drivers "want to win when you have a car like we did today, but I'll take it again next week. We're excited about the opportunity to go down there (Homestead). Certainly for me, my final race. I can't think of anything sweeter than just having that opportunity to go down there and battle for the championship and seeing what happens.”
After being black-flagged at the start of the race and rallying to a seventh-place finish, Kurt Busch said that he "had a great season, we won two races, sat on three poles. We did everything possible to put polish on a season like this and get out there with elbow grease and work hard it, and you know, when there’s some tarnish that’s sitting there, polish and polish and polish, that’s all I kept doing all year.”
After a 14th-place finish was enough to beat out Carl Edwards for the final championship race spot, Martin Truex, Jr. said that it was "obviously an exciting day for everybody at Furniture Row Racing and me. Just super proud of my team for the season we've been able to put together, and I feel like we've overcome a lot of obstacles. We have kind of overcome a lot of odds, and I'm just proud to be part of this group and looking forward to having the opportunity to do something that we've all dreamed about our whole lives next weekend."
|1||3||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||219||47|
|2||8||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||219||44|
|3||14||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||219||41|
|4||10||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||219||41|
|5||1||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||219||40|
|6||11||24||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||219||39|
|7||2||41||Kurt Busch||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||219||37|
|8||13||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||219||36|
|9||18||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||219||36|
|10||17||43||Aric Almirola||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||219||34|
|11||22||31||Ryan Newman||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||219||33|
|12||4||19||Carl Edwards||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||219||32|
|13||15||27||Paul Menard||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||219||31|
|14||5||78||Martin Truex, Jr.||Furniture Row Racing||Toyota||219||30|
|15||12||1||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||218||29|
|16||21||10||Danica Patrick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||218||28|
|17||25||51||Justin Allgaier||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||218||27|
|18||29||55||David Ragan||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||218||27|
|19||7||20||Erik Jones (i)||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||218||0|
|20||16||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||218||24|
|21||6||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||218||23|
|22||24||13||Casey Mears||Germain Racing||Chevrolet||218||22|
|23||27||15||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing||Toyota||218||21|
|24||23||47||A. J. Allmendinger||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||218||20|
|25||20||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||218||19|
|26||9||5||Kasey Kahne||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||217||18|
|27||31||14||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing||Chevrolet||217||17|
|28||30||83||Matt DiBenedetto (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||217||16|
|29||33||26||J. J. Yeley (i)||BK Racing||Toyota||216||0|
|30||34||38||David Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||216||14|
|31||28||9||Sam Hornish, Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Ford||215||13|
|32||36||46||Michael Annett||HScott Motorsports||Chevrolet||215||12|
|33||38||35||Cole Whitt||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||215||11|
|34||26||6||Trevor Bayne||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||215||10|
|35||32||40||Landon Cassill (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||215||0|
|36||40||34||Brett Moffitt (R)||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||215||8|
|37||41||98||Ryan Preece||Premium Motorsports||Ford||214||7|
|38||35||7||Alex Bowman||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevrolet||214||6|
|39||37||23||Jeb Burton (R)||BK Racing||Toyota||213||5|
|40||42||33||Ryan Ellis (i)||Hillman-Circle Sport LLC||Chevrolet||211||0|
|41||19||17||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||194||3|
|42||39||32||Joey Gase (i)||Go FAS Racing||Ford||161||0|
|43||43||62||Timmy Hill (i)||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||127||0|
|Official Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 results|
- 8 lead changes among 7 different drivers
- 2 cautions for 29 laps
- Time of race: 2 hours, 3 minutes, 22 seconds
- Average speed: 106.512 mph (171.414 km/h)
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took home $462,976 in winnings
- Coors Light Pole Award: Jimmie Johnson (25.147, 143.158 mph (230.390 km/h))
- 3M Lap Leader: Kevin Harvick (143 laps)
- American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- Duralast Brakes "Bake In The Race" Award: Jimmie Johnson
- Freescale "Wide Open": Kevin Harvick
- Ingersoll Rand Power Move: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (7 positions)
- MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: Hendrick Engines, #4
- Mobil 1 Driver of the Race: Kevin Harvick (144.7 driver rating)
- Moog Steering and Suspension Problem Solver of The Race: Aric Almirola (crew chief Trent Owens (-0.178 seconds))
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Leader Bonus: No winner: rolls over to $30,000 at next event
- Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap: Carl Edwards (Lap 5, 26.103, 137.915 mph (221.953 km/h))
- Sunoco Rookie of The Race: Matt DiBenedetto
NBC Sports was scheduled to covered the race on the television side but NBCSN covered the race due to rain. Rick Allen, two–time Phoenix winner Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte had the call in the booth for the race. Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast handled pit road on the television side.
|Booth announcers||Pit reporters|
|Lap-by-lap: Rick Allen
Color-commentator: Jeff Burton
Color-commentator: Steve Letarte
MRN had the radio call for the race, which was simulcast on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Jeff Striegle, Alex Hayden and 1998 race winner Rusty Wallace called the race from the booth when the field was racing down the frontstretch. Dan Hubbard called the race from atop the turn 1 suites when the field was racing through turns 1 and 2. Kyle Rickey called the race from a billboard outside turn 4 when the field was racing through turns 3 and 4. Winston Kelley, Pete Pistone and Steve Post handled pit road on the radio side.
|Booth announcers||Turn announcers||Pit reporters|
|Lead announcer: Jeff Striegle
Announcer: Alex Hayden
Announcer: Rusty Wallace
|Turns 1 & 2: Dan Hubbard
Turns 3 & 4: Kyle Rickey
Standings after the raceEdit
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2015 AAA Texas 500
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2015 Ford EcoBoost 400