The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the second race of the 2011 season, the Subway Fresh Fit 500(k). Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.When:
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 3:15 p.m./et.Weather:
Showers with a high around 50; wind out of the WSW at 13 mph. There is a 40 percent change of precipitation on Sunday.The Track:
Phoenix International Raceway
PIR is a relatively flat (11 and nine degree banking in the corners) one mile oval. Hendrick Motorsports driver's Mark Martin
, Jimmie Johnson
and Jeff Gordon
have won six of the last eight races at PIR. Carl Edwards
won the fall race in 2010, Kevin Harvick
dominated both races in 2006 and the Busch Brothers won both races at the track in 2005. All six are options this weekend.Key to Race:
Which Hendrick Driver will win?
Hendrick Motorsports has dominated PIR the past few years. We anticipate all drivers from its stable will be fast. Roush-Fenway will also bring some quality cars to the race to challenge Hendrick's dominance at Phoenix. Qualifying Procedures:
45 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the final 2010 owners points will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 are determined during qualifying on Saturday, February 26 at 3:40 pm/et. Fantasy Cheat Sheet:Top 5
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
: Johnson has 13 top 10 finishes in 16 career starts at PIR. With wins in four of the past seven races at the track, he is the obvious pick to win.
No. 99 Carl Edwards
: Edwards won the last race at PIR and has finished in the top 11 in 10 of the past 12 Phoenix races. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 39 Ryan Newman
: Newman was awesome at PIR last year. He won the spring race at PIR and finished second in the fall. He should bring the same car to Sunday's race and will be fast again.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick
: Harvick has led 316 laps in the past 10 races at PIR including wins in both the 2006 races. He is good bet to crack the top five.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon
: Gordon won the April 2007 race and has 18 top 10 finishes in 24 career starts at PIR. We look for him to be very strong again this weekend.6 to 10
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
: Hamlin has been very successful at PIR during his career. We like him to make the top 10 and with luck crack the top five.
No. 18 Kyle Busch
: Rowdy brought one of the top cars to both races at PIR last year. If he can avoid trouble he could crack the top five.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth
: Kenseth has finished inside the top six in five of the last 10 races
at PIR. He will be in the lead-pack all day.
No. 20 Joey Logano
: Logano cracked the top 10 in both races at PIR last year. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle
: Biffle has led 349 laps in the past 12 races at PIR. He should have the No. 16 ride inside the top 10 this weekend.11 to 20
No. 22 Kurt Busch
: Busch usually brings a very fast sled to PIR. He will be in the mix to win.
No. 5 Mark Martin
: Martin has finished inside the top 20 in his last 27 starts at PIR. He won the spring race in 2009 and will be very fast again this weekend.
No. 31 Jeff Burton
: Burton has been awesome at PIR during his career. He has two wins and has cracked the top 15 in 18 of 20 starts. He is a great choice.
No. 14 Tony Stewart
: Smoke has finished inside the top 15 in seven of the past 11 races at PIR. He should have a good ride once again.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya
: Montoya has cracked the top 20 in six of the past seven races at PIR. He should finish just outside the top 10 this weekend.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer
: Bowyer has averaged a 15th place finish at Phoenix the past six years. He should take the checkers right around this average.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.
: Truex Jr. has finished in the top 22 in nine of his 10 career starts at PIR. Another strong finish is expected.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
: Junior has had mixed results his past few visits to the desert. He isn't worth gambling on this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard
: Menard has cracked top 30 in all eight of his career starts at PIR. We like him to continue the streak in his new RCR ride.
No. 00 David Reutimann
: Rudy cracked the top 10 in both races at PIR in 2009, but struggled last year. He is a nice sleeper option this week.21 to 30
No. 2 Brad Keselowski
: Keselowski finished 16th at PIR last spring, but was taken out in an early accident in the fall. He should finish just outside the top 20 this weekend.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose
: Ambrose has cracked the top 22 in all five of his career starts at PIR. He is a great value option.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger took the pole and led 16 laps at PIR last April. He could be a factor again this weekend.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray
: PIR has been a tough place for Jamie Mac's to get around during most of his career. This isn't the weekend to take a chance on him.
No. 4 Kasey Kahne
: Kahne has averaged just a 23rd place finish the past eight races at PIR. He is a risky pick.
No. 83 Brian Vickers
: Vickers hasn't cracked the top 15 at PIR since 2006. This isn't a great weekend to use him.
No. 6 David Ragan
: Ragan has averaged just a 25th place finish during his career at PIR. He isn't much of an option.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
: Labonte has five top 10 finishes in the past 13 races at Phoenix, but that was racing for better funded teams. He won't have enough horses this weekend to be much of sleeper pick.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne
: Bayne proved he can follow a drafting partner around the speedway during the Daytona 500, but we will see if he can actually drive this weekend. Wait another week or two before adding him.
No. 13 Casey Mears
: Mears has averaged a 25th place finish the past six years at Phoenix. He shouldn't have a problem cracking the top 30 on Sunday. Field Fillers
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 78 Regan Smith
No. 7 Robby Gordon
No. 71 Andy Lally
No. 09 Bill Elliott
No. 34 Travis Kvapil
No. 37 Tony Raines
No. 78 Joe Nemechek
No. 46 J.J. Yeley
No. 32 Mike Skinner
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 60 Landon Cassill
No. 64 Mike Bliss
No. 66 Michael McDowell
No. 92 Brian KeselowskiBrownie's PicksTop Four:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Ryan Newman
4. Kevin Harvick Sleepers:
1. Ryan Newman
2. Joey LoganoBust of the Week:Kasey Kahne