Race: 35 of 36
Track Size: 1 mile
Banking/1 and 2: 10 – 11 degrees
Banking/3 and 4: 8 – 9 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
Backstretch: 1,551 feet
So, with Phoenix having been recently repaved and reconfigured, I’m throwing out the stats from 2011 and starting with NOTHING – just like the teams. (except for those that tested a couple of months ago).
The track underwent its first repave this year. The construction began in March and concluded in September of 2011. The following changes were made during the construction period:
· Widened the frontstretch from 52 to 62 feet
· Reconfigured pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls
· Pushed the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet
· Tightened the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet
· Implemented variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4.
Tony kept his promise to Carl. Edwards took Stewart’s words, and used them as inspiration. Not to mention, Stewart and Edwards need to watch that number “3.” Literally….
After winnng at Texas Motor Speedway, only three points separate two drivers, points leader Carl Edwards and second-place Tony Stewart. Two races remain before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
They’ve both scored the exact same number of points in the Chase: 313.
Some notables for Stewart…
Texas was Stewart’s fourth win of this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only one other driver has ever won four races in the Chase: Jimmie Johnson, in 2004, 2007, 2009 (Johnson won the title in 2007 and 2009). No driver has won five races in the Chase. Stewart has a solid chance of becoming the first – he turned the fastest lap at last month’s test at the newly repaved Phoenix. Stewart is one of the few drivers who participated in both the two-day test in October and the Goodyear Tire Test in August. Carl Edwards also ran both tests.
If Stewart wins the championship this year, this will be his third championship title and will tie NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson.
So what about Johnson? He’s currently 6th in points, 55 points out from the leader. Yes, he’s had the most wins at Phoenix – four – but that was on the old surface. That’s when old notes get thrown out, and the team starts from cratch. Anything can happen.
So this is really going to be a tough one. After last month’s two-day test session at the newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway, drivers offered a number of reviews of the surface and new configuration. The consensus: It’s vastly different from the “old” layout. And there wasn’t much of a comparison to other tracks. In other words, who knows.
The Associated Press as reported that Z-Line Designs asked this week that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Homestead.
Other options being considered is Aric Almirola replacing Busch in the final two Sprint Cup Series races of the season, as primary sponsor M&M’s decides how it wants to proceed with Busch. Although NASCAR has cleared Busch to race this weekend at Phoenix, JGR officials have been silent on his status in Sunday’s Cup race.
Read the AP article.
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Two races are left – Phoenix and Homestead-Miami.
Jack Roush leads all owners with nine NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at the track, including this race last year. Carl Edwards, the 2007 series driver champion, has won the last three November races at Phoenix.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leads the driver standings by 17 points over Elliott Sadler, who’s the only competitor who can catch Stenhouse. After Texas, the last of the drivers who were mathematically eligible for the championship were eliminated. Stenhouse’s 14 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes lead the series. He also has two wins, which is best among driver championship contenders.
Joey Logano will be in the No. 18 at Phoenix for Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Busch has manned the No. 18 for the majority of the season; however the Phoenix event wasn’t on his original 22-race schedule.
REMINDER: If Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Carl Edwards accomplish both championships, it will be the first time ever in NASCAR history the same owner captured two different championships in the same series.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE
Blake Koch finally pulled even with Timmy Hill following Texas. After closing to within one point of leader Hill following the fall race at Charlotte last month,this may very well be the closest race for a post-season award for the series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year.*
*The award is based on accumulating points and also via vote by a Rookie of the Year panel that weighs on and off track elements.