The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the second race of the 2013 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, March 3, 2013; 3:14 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 82; wind out of the SE at 9 mph. There is a 10 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 Kasey Kahne have won most of the last 11 races atPIR. Any member of Hendrick’s impressive stable of drivers is 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 and don’t forget about Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch who brought great cars to the track last November.
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has 15 top 10 finishes in 20 career starts atPIR including four wins in the last 11 races at the track. Mr. Daytona 500 is the obvious choice to take the checkers this weekend.
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 and second place finish last year. A top five finish is expected.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has led over 415 laps in the past 14 races atPIRincluding a win last November. He is a strong option.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne won the November 2012 race at Phoenix. He should have plenty of speed to win this visit to the desert.
6 to 10
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has five top 20 finishes in six career starts at PIR. He should finish just inside the top five this weekend.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon won the 2011 spring race and has 19 top 10 finishes in 28 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 finished in the top 11 in 12 of the past 16 Phoenix races. If he can shake off the bad luck that followed him at Daytona he will be a good pick.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Smoke has finished inside the top 15 in nine of the past 15 races atPIR. He should accomplish a top 15 finish again this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has led 349 laps in the past 16 races atPIR. He should have the No. 16 ride inside the top 15.
11 to 20
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman was awesome in five of the past six Phoenix races. He should bring a similar setup to Sunday’s race and will be fast again.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished inside the top six in five of the last 14 races
at PIR, but over the last eight years he has averaged just an 18th place finish. He will miss the top 10.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has averaged an 18th place finish at Phoenix the past eight years. He should take the checkers right around his average.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano cracked the top 11in four of his last six starts at PIR. He is a good 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 20 of 23 starts. This is the weekend to use the No. 31.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has finished inside the top 20 in his last 31 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. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has cracked the top 20 in 10 of the past 11 races at PIR.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola cracked the top 16 in both races at Phoenix last year. He is a fine choice.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse Jr. was great at Phoenix in the Nationwide Series. He should bring the No. 17 a top 20.
21 to 30
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch usually brings a very fast sled toPIR. The No. 78 car needs to post a strong result this weekend.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has finished in the top 22 in 12 of his 14 career starts atPIR. Another top 25 finish is expected.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has cracked top 30 in all but one of his 12 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 nine career starts atPIR. He is a great value option.
No. 33 Austin Dillon: Dillon will earn the yellow stripe on his bumper this season. He is an okay option, but don’t count on him for too many top 10 finishes.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has five top 10 finishes in the past 17 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. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick impressed many of her doubters with her solid weekend at Daytona. We still don’t trust her enough to bump her into the top 25.
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. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 25th place finish the past seven years at Phoenix. He shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 30 on Sunday.
No. 83 David Reutimann: Rudy finished sixth in the November of 2011 race at PIR, but we don’t think he will be nearly as quick this weekend.
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 36 J.J. Yeley
No. 51 A.J. Allmendinger
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 7 Dave Blaney
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 35 Josh Wise
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 44 Scott Riggs
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Tony Stewart
B. Greg Biffle
B. Kyle Busch
C. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.