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After a controversy-filled, eight-race slugfest in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it’s finally time for a duel in the desert for the NASCAR gang.

Entering Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, only four-time series champ 

Jeff Gordon has clinched a spot into the four-man battle royale main event next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

To the delight of the large fan corps cheering for a Hollywood-style finish to the career of their hero, Gordon earned his 93rd career victory three weeks ago Martinsville Speedway. That triumph sealed the championship berth for the 44-year-old NASCAR ambassador.

Now, an all-star cast of drivers must generate clutch efforts on the flat 1-mile and D-shaped oval at Phoenix Sunday.

Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who has been greeted by boos in recent weeks, faces the most pressure Sunday after his crashes at Martinsville and Texas Motor Speedway last week. The situation is clear for Logano – he must win to advance into the Final Four.

The always-aggressive Brad Keselowski, another Team Penske driver, also appeared to be a title finalist after dominating the most of the Texas showdown. But six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson spoiled those plans by passing Keselowski with just four laps remaining.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. currently cling to the Chase bubble inside the top four. Meanwhile, 
Carl Edwards, Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Logano face make-or-break situations Sunday.

Harvick has won the past four races at Phoenix and five of the past six.  
The various scenarios are complex for each of the eight drivers alive in the Chase, but the bottom line is clear. Sunday is go-time.

"Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches,” Logano said. “This team is strong. We didn't take any wind out of our sails. I feel great about our chances at Phoenix.”