The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the 35th race of the 2012 season, the AdvoCare 500. 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 11, 2012; 3:15 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 65; wind out of the NNW at 5 mph. There is a ZERO percent change of precipitation on Sunday.
The Track: Phoenix International Raceway
PIRis a relatively flat (11 and nine degree banking in the corners) one mile oval. Hendrick Motorsports driver's Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and now Kasey Kahne have most of the last 10 races atPIR. Any member of Hendrick’s impressive stable of drivers are an option to win this weekend.
Key to Race: Which Hendrick Driver will win?
Hendrick Motorsports has dominatedPIRthe past few years. We anticipate all drivers from the Big H Stable will be fast. Roush-Fenway will also bring some quality cars to the race to challenge Hendrick's dominance atPhoenix.
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has 15 top 10 finishes in 19 career starts atPIR. With wins in four of the past 10 races at the track, he is the obvious pick take the checkers again.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has been one of the top drivers the past seven years at Phoenix. We look for him to have a big impact on Sunday’s race.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been very successful atPIRduring his career, including a win this spring. We like him to make the top 10 and with luck crack the top five.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has four top 20 finishes in five career starts at PIR. He should finish just inside the top five this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne, won at Phoenix last November. He should have plenty of speed to make a run for a win this visit to the desert.
6 to 10
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has led over 400 laps in the past 13 races atPIRincluding wins in both the 2006 races. He is good bet to crack the top 10.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon won last year’s spring race and has 19 top 10 finishes in 27 career starts atPIR. We look for him to be very strong again this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards won the 2010 fall race at PIR and has finished in the top 11 in 11 of the past 15 Phoenix races. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Smoke has finished inside the top 15 in nine of the past 14 races atPIR. He had the best car on the track last November and we like his chances this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has led 349 laps in the past 15 races atPIR. He should have the No. 16 ride inside the top 15 this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has averaged a 16th place finish at Phoenix the past seven years and has been driving awesome the past month of this year. He should take the checkers even better than his average.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top six in five of the last 13 races
atPIR. He will be in the lead-pack all day.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman was awesome in four of the past five Phoenix races. He should bring a similar setup to Sunday’s race and will be fast again.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano cracked the top 11in four of his last five starts at PIR. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has been very good atPIRduring his career. He has two wins and has cracked the top 15 in 19 of 23 starts. He is a decent choice.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has finished inside the top 20 in his last 30 starts atPIR. He won the spring race in 2009 and will be worth using again this weekend.
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. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch usually brings a very fast sled toPIR. He has driven a little better since switching to the No. 78 car and is an okay pick this weekend.
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish Jr. has averaged a 23rd place finish at PIR. He is worth using again this weekend as a fourth driver in most leagues.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has cracked the top 20 in nine of the past 10 races atPIR andshould finish just outside the top 15 this weekend.
21 to 30
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has finished in the top 22 in 12 of his 13 career starts atPIR. Another strong finish is expected.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola finished 12th during the spring race at Phoenix. He is a fine choice again on Sunday.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has cracked top 30 in all but one of his 11 of his career starts atPIR. We like him to continue the streak.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has cracked the top 22 in all but one of his eight career starts atPIR. He is a great value option.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has five top 10 finishes in the past 16 races at Phoenix, but that was racing for better funded teams. He won’t have enough horses this weekend to be anything but a sleeper pick.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: PIRhas 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. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has averaged just a 27th place finish during his career at PIR. He isn’t much of an option.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 26th place finish the past seven years at Phoenix. He shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 30 on Sunday.
No. 51 Regan Smith: Smith has had a few top 25 finishes at PIR. He is barely worth using even in the deepest leagues.
No. 44 David Reutimann: Rudy finished sixth last November at PIR, but we don’t think he will be nearly as quick this weekend.
No. 10 Danica Patrick
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 32 T.J. Bell
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 37 J.J. Yeley
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 91 Reed Sorenson
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 26 Josh Wise
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Brad Keselowski
1. Clint Bowyer
2. Kurt Busch
Bust of the Week:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.