NASCAR drivers get a second chance at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — NASCAR moves to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend with several leading drivers hoping to rebound from poor finishes in the season-opening Daytona 500.

While Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrated his second Daytona 500 victory, rivals Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. were among those hobbling out of Daytona International Speedway with forgettable results.

Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, finished 35th after a fuel-pressure problem sent his No. 14 Chevrolet to the garage for repairs. Kahne was 31st after his No. 5 Chevy was involved in two crashes.

Bowyer's No. 15 Toyota suffered engine failure, leaving him with a 42nd-place finish, while Truex finished last in 43rd when his No. 78 Chevrolet blew an engine on Lap 31.

And highly touted rookie Kyle Larson finished 38th after a long day at Daytona that included scraping the wall early in the race because of a blown tire and later being collected in a crash.

"I can't wait to get to Phoenix and try and do better," he said after climbing from his No. 42 Chevrolet.

All those calamities came on the high-banked, 2.5-mile Daytona track. But the field races Sunday on the relatively flat, one-mile Phoenix International track that features a slight dogleg on the back straightaway.

Carl Edwards won the Phoenix race a year ago in his No. 99 Ford prepared by Roush Fenway Racing, and Edwards and his two teammates, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle, arrived in the desert with momentum.

Stenhouse and Biffle finished seventh and eighth at Daytona, respectively, after battling with Earnhardt in the closing stages of the race.

Edwards finished 17th after being involved in a last-lap crash, but he had led several laps until Earnhardt re-took the lead for good with 18 laps remaining.

"I'm excited about Phoenix," Edwards said in notes released by his team. "We are coming off a very strong run at Daytona and I feel really good about it."

NASCAR also will implement a new qualifying format for the Cup series at Phoenix on Friday. (It wasn't used at the season opener at Daytona because that race has its own qualifying procedures.)

The old method of having one car qualify at a time will be replaced with a knockout-style format.

The entire field will hold a 30-minute qualifying session, and the fastest 12 cars will advance to a second, 10-minute round that will decide their starting spots.

james.peltz@latimes.com

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes