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Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Preview
By Micah Roberts
For the next few weeks we're going to all be learning about what the changes to the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars mean at differing tracks, most notably how the new electronic fuel injection reacts. The teams that have done the most extensive testing since it was allowed last season would appear to have an edge. Those teams, not surprisingly, are the ones with the most money, such as Hendrick Motorsports.
Last week's restictor-plate race at Daytona didn't offer the best data with the new EFI system because cars are propelled more by the draft than by themselves. This week at Phoenix it will be every driver for themselves with their crew chief at the computer dissecting every piece of data that comes through their computer in nearly the same fashion they do in Formula-one.
Instead of a crew chief asking their driver "what's wrong" with a driver speculating, the crew chief will now be able to know and pinpoint issues quicker. These next few races will be important for every team to figure out how they're going maximize all that data to their advantage.
Some of the expected bonuses of EFI are less blown engines and a more accurate figure on fuel mileage. Some of the drama of wondering whether a car can make the final few laps will be taken out of the equation, but will also intensify at the same time as teams are sure to push the limits more so than in the past. Is the computer smarter here, or weighing a gas can after each pit stop to see exactly how much fuel got into the car?
Even without speculating that Hendrick may have the advantage here like they did in 2007 when the 'Car of Tomorrow' was introduced, they are collectively pretty stout at Phoenix as is.
Jimmie Johnson has a track best career average of 5.4 in 17 starts that include four wins. He's never finished worse than 15th and has only finished worse than seventh 3 times. Johnson has had a lot of time reflect on not winning his sixth straight title last season and when looking back on 2011, Phoenix is the type of track he knows he can improve upon from last year.
Jeff Gordon is a two-time winner at Phoenix. Unlike most of the other tracks where he did most of his damage during his glory years in the 90's, he captured his only two wins on the track in 2007 and in this race last season.
Kasey Kahne gets to jump into the No. 5 Hendrick car that Mark Martin drove to a Phoenix victory in 2009, a car Kyle Busch also won at Phoenix with in 2005. Kahne looks to be one of the surprises of the 2012 season and this will be our first real opportunity to see what he can do with the Hendrick horsepower under the hood. In the fall race last season, Kahne did the amazing by taking a lame duck Red Bull Racing team to the winners circle. It was Kahne's only win of 2012.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has gone 130 races without a win, but Phoenix could be a place we see the streak end. He's a two-time winner on the track (2003-04) and be the major beneficiary of having the Hendrick edge in his corner.
The top Ford of the race figures to be Carl Edwards who has had the best car in the last three Phoenix races, but has claimed only one victory. The last time NASCAR made some changes, Roush Racing took a long time to catch up. It's debatable whether it will happen again, but it does take some of the shine off of what Edwards has done recently at Phoenix. It's likely odds on Edwards will too low to back as most sports books will use those last three races as a reference when posting their numbers.
Top 5 Finish Position:
1) #48 Jimmie Johnson (7/1)
2) #24 Jeff Gordon (8/1)
3) #99 Carl Edwards (7/1)
4) #5 Kasey Kahne (14/1)
5) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25/1)
Gaughan to a GREAT Car
While Danica Patrick won't make a Sprint Cup appearance again until May, Las Vegans will make up for the void with their own favorite son, Brendan Gaughan, who will run race No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 beginning this week in Phoenix. Kurt and Kyle Busch are loved in Las Vegas as well, but Brendan has a special relationship with the locals because of his family ties (Father Michael and Grandfather Jackie) that have been so good to Las Vegans over the last six decades.
When Brendan got his first shot at Cup racing, he didn't really have a chance to succeed as an afterthought third-string program run by Roger Penske during lean years. His current run will see him in Richard Childress cars with chassis' leftovers from the departure of Clint Bowyer as well as a cars used by Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick.
His return to the Cup series during the Las Vegas race in two weeks will be one of the bigger underlying stories of the weekend. Here's to hoping, and wishing, Gaughan the best of performances the next few weeks in the spotlight of Cup racing.
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Odds & Ends - Phoenix
Phoenix International Raceway Data
Race: 2 of 36 (3-4-12)
Track Size: 1 mile
Banking/1 and 2: 10 - 11 degrees
Banking/3 and 4: 8 - 9 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
Backstretch: 1,551 feet
Driver Rating at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson 118.6
Carl Edwards 101.3
Tony Stewart 100.9
Kurt Busch 100.4
Jeff Gordon 99.8
Mark Martin 97.8
Denny Hamlin 96.3
Kyle Busch 95.5
Kevin Harvick 94.8
Greg Biffle 93.1
Ryan Newman 90.1
Martin Truex Jr. 88.9
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (14 total) at Phoenix.
2011 pole winner: Carl Edwards (137.279 mph, 26.244 seconds)
2011 race winner: Jeff Gordon (102.961 mph, 2-27-11)
Track qualifying record: Carl Edwards (137.279 mph, 26.244 seconds, 2-26-11)
Track race record: Tony Stewart (118.132 mph, 11-7-99)
Driver Ratings for Winners
Driver/Year (Driver Rating Series) Driver Rating Rank
Jeff Gordon/2011 (98.3) 5th
Ryan Newman/2010 (78.5) 19th
Mark Martin/2009 (98.1) 8th
Jimmie Johnson/2008 (104.3) 4th
Jeff Gordon/2007 (115.2) 1st
Kevin Harvick/2006 (91.2) 8th
* Pre-Race Subway Fresh Fit 500 Driver Ratings of the year the driver won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 (the past 6 spring races).
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Driver Highlights - Phoenix
Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Commer Graphics Ford)
Four top fives, five top 10s
Average finish of 14.8
Average Running Position of 14.7, 13th-best
Driver Rating of 93.1, 10th-best
273 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
554 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.841 mph, 10th-fastest
2,629 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), 12th-most
291 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), ninth-most
Jeff Burton (No. 31 WHEATIES Chevrolet)
Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish of 12.0
Driver Rating of 85.6, 13th-best
Series-high 704 Green Flag Passes
2,653 Laps in the Top 15 (59.8%), 11th-most
357 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet)
One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish of 13.4
Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best
Driver Rating of 100.4, fourth-best
257 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.912 mph, fifth-fastest
3,211 Laps in the Top 15 (77.9%), fifth-most
271 Quality Passes, 13th-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Brown Toyota)
One win, two top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 14.6
Average Running Position of 11.9, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 95.5, eighth-best
164 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
578 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.883 mph, eighth-fastest
3,601 Laps in the Top 15 (81.2%), second-most
Series-high 400 Quality Passes
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)
One win, six top fives, 10 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 12.3
Average Running Position of 12.8, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 101.3, second-best
284 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 124.059 mph, second-fastest
3,139 Laps in the Top 15 (70.8%), eighth-most
308 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
Two wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 10.9
Average Running Position of 10.7, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 99.8, fifth-best
173 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.809 mph, 11th-fastest
3,494 Laps in the Top 15 (78.8%), third-most
277 Quality Passes, 11th-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
Five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 11.6
Average Running Position of 12.2, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 96.3, seventh-best
192 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.944 mph, fourth-fastest
2,955 Laps in the Top 15 (71.7%), ninth-most
307 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 RHEEM Chevrolet)
Two wins, four top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 14.1
Average Running Position of 12.1, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 94.8, ninth-best
565 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.886 mph, seventh-fastest
3,157 Laps in the Top 15 (71.2%), seventh-most
292 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
Four wins, 11 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 5.4
Series-best Average Running Position of 6.3
Series-best Driver Rating of 118.2
Series-high 435 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 124.357 mph
Series-high 3,994 Laps in the Top 15 (90.1%)
358 Quality Passes, third-most
Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron's Toyota)
Two wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 9.0
Average Running Position of 12.2, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 97.8, sixth-best
244 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.911 mph, sixth-fastest
2,753 Laps in the Top 15 (66.8%), 10th-most
Ryan Newman (No. 39 WIX Chevrolet)
One win, seven top fives, seven top 10s; four poles
Average finish of 18.6
Average Running Position of 14.3, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 90.1, 11th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.721 mph, 12th-fastest
3,194 Laps in the Top 15 (72.0%), sixth-most
391 Quality Passes, second-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
One win, eight top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish of 11.3
Average Running Position of 9.8, third-best
Driver Rating of 100.9, third-best
206 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
584 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 124.048 mph, third-fastest
3,434 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), fourth-most
356 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56 NAPA Filters Toyota)
One top five, four top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 15.8
Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 88.9, 12th-best
122 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 123.866 mph, ninth-fastest
2,599 Laps in the Top 15 (68.2%), 13th-most
272 Quality Passes, 12th-most
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Driver Notes & Quotes for Phoenix Subway Fresh Fit 500
CARL EDWARDS ON PHOENIX: “I love going to Phoenix. The weather looks like it’s going to be great, and I’m really excited to see how the track has aged over the winter. I thought the surface was very racy last time we were there and I think everyone is excited to see if it gets even better for the race this weekend. This is a huge race for us being the Subway Fresh Fit 500 and we’re racing the Subway Ford so a win would be huge. A year ago we felt like we had the fastest car and got it torn up early in the race, so it would be wonderful to go back there again and be able to win this thing.”
EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 crew will unload RK-801 at Phoenix. This is a brand new car and the first of six races where Subway will be the primary sponsor.
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON HIS APPROACH TO PHOENIX AND THE NEW CONFIGURATION: “We have a rule about putting the previous week’s race behind us by a certain time the next day. It doesn’t do any good to rehash what went wrong all week long. That’s certainly the case for us this week. We have a short turnaround, so that obviously helps. But I’m really focused on getting on track and putting up a better finish in the Kobalt Tools Chevy this weekend. It’s obviously a good place for us, so I’m looking forward to getting on track in a few days.”
“I don’t think much will be different. We’ve obviously already raced once on the surface and all the test sessions, so that always helps get more rubber down on the track surface. We started to get a second groove going during the race weekend in November and I think that will be even better this time around. Phoenix is a great track and I think the new configuration is fun to drive. I think, like with any new track surface, you will see the racing evolve and we will have that again this weekend. It’s going to be a good race.”
JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Johnson will pilot chassis No. 689. This car finished 14th at Phoenix last fall and 18th at New Hampshire in September. Chassis No. 590 will serve as the backup.
DALE EARNHARDT JR ON PHOENIX: “When we were at Phoenix last year, the track was too smooth. Hopefully it has aged some over the winter, but we’ll go to Phoenix with a good attitude. We feel like we can go to Phoenix and run well, so we’ll see how it goes.”
In 19 Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Earnhardt has earned two wins, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He also has led 460 laps at the short track. He earned his two wins there back-to-back, going to Victory Lane in November 2003 and November 2004 when Phoenix hosted one Cup event a season.
EARNHARDT JR CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-709. This is a brand new, untested chassis.
CLINT BOWYER ON PHOENIX: “Phoenix has always been kind of unique to itself. I think it always will be. I think the repaving and reconfiguring made it all that much better. Short track racing is always a lot of fun. I wish we had five more tracks just like Phoenix.”
BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY team will race chassis No. 712 at Phoenix. The backup is No. 718 – both are new.
MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON RETURNING TO PHOENIX: “This track is one of my favorites. Last race, we raced in the top 10 all day until we got put down a lap when the caution came out when we were in the pits. I am anxious to get back out there with our new chassis. I think we have a car that can win this race. Chad has a good idea of what our NAPA Toyota needs for me to run well. Our focus is on Turns 3 and 4, but we also need a strong throttle off of Turn 2 so I can carry the momentum into the final corners.”
MARK MARTIN CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary- 714, Backup- 715 – Both are new cars. Martin will race the No. 55 in 24 races plus the All Star race in 2012. Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 in six races. MWR will fill the remaining races with a driver to be named later.
GREG BIFFLE ON PHOENIX: “I think we showed in Daytona that we have a team capable of competing for wins and I can’t tell you how excited I am about the team we’ve assembled for the 2012 season. I am ready to get on the track in Phoenix and I think the fans are going to love our 3Mwraps.com paint scheme. After Phoenix I get to spend a little time at the sand dunes on my way to Vegas, which is always fun.”
BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-778 - Last ran New Hampshire – finished third; Backup: RK-759 - Last ran Phoenix as the No. 6 – finished 33rd.
MARCOS AMBROSE ON PHOENIX: “I love short track racing and I really enjoy going to Phoenix. I feel like my Stanley team and I made big improvements on our short-track program last year and we are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. I had an awesome car in Phoenix last fall and I know my crew has worked really hard to give me another fast car this weekend. It’s been a short week at home with the postponement of the Daytona 500, but I’m really looking forward to heading out west and getting my No. 9 Stanley Ford unloaded and on the track.”
AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 805 for this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. This Stanley Ford is brand new and has never been run before.
TONY STEWART ON HOW LONG HE'S BEEN RACING AT PHOENIX: “I started racing there in ’93 when I ran a USAC Silver Crown car. And since then, I’ve run USAC Midgets, Indy cars, Supermodifieds, Nationwide Series cars and, of course, Sprint Cup. So, I’ve logged a bunch of laps there. To think that it all kind of started at Phoenix, I guess you could say it’s the place where my career came full-circle.”
“When we ran the USAC cars out there, it was pretty cool because I had never gone that fast before. It’s just one of those tracks where, to run a Midget and a Silver Crown car there, it definitely got your attention. It was pretty fast.”
STEWART CHASSIS CHOICE: This car made its debut in April 2011 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where it experienced some teething problems, qualifying 28th and Finishing 34th with a broken rear-end gear. Prior to Martinsville, Chassis No. 14-637 was tested March 14 at the half-mile Little Rock Speedway in Rockingham,
The July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon marked the car’s second career start, where it qualified second and led twice for 48 laps around the 1.058-mile oval before finishing .773 of a second behind its sister car, piloted by Ryan Newman. It saw track time again during a Goodyear Tire Test at Phoenix International Raceway Aug. 29-30 before returning to New Hampshire in September for its third career start and first of the Chase. The car carried Stewart to his second straight Chase win, leading only the final two laps after previous leader Clint Bowyer ran out of fuel just before taking the white flag in the 300-lap race.
Chassis No. 14-637 returned to action and another flat, 1-mile oval for the 2011 season’s penultimate race at Phoenix. It again performed well by leading five times for a race-high 160 laps to deliver its third straight top three finish. The car returns to Phoenix with fresh sheet metal to make its first start of 2012 and its fifth overall with Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k.
RYAN NEWMAN ON WHY HE'S SO GOOD AT PHOENIX: “We go to Phoenix with a good setup, and that shows by our finishes there. And luckily the changes to the track didn’t change that for us last fall. It’s hard to say why we’ve done so well there, but it’s one of my favorite tracks, and that definitely is a factor. I guess I would kind of lump Phoenix into the success that we’ve had on short tracks. The combination of Tony Gibson (crew chief), the No. 39 team and me have really been able to hit on something at the tracks a mile and under – like Martinsville and Bristol. And Phoenix is flat like New Hampshire, which is another track where we’ve had success. In my opinion, the driver has a little more of an impact on the end result at short tracks than some of the bigger racetracks, and I like that. The more the drivers are involved, the more I think you get to race and, from that standpoint, I think it’s more fun. Tony Gibson has some great setups with our short-track program. I enjoy them, he enjoys them, and we just go out there and have some fun."
"We’ve had a good car each time we’ve been to Phoenix. Gibson is a great fan of Phoenix and short-track racing, and he’s got a great understanding of the racecar there and what I like, and that makes a big difference, obviously, for me. We’ve been able to get four top-five finishes in our last four trips to Phoenix. So I’m really looking forward to getting back there this weekend after a really long Speedweeks.”
NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Two starts, two top-10 finishes. That was the story for Chassis No. 39-691 last season as it competed in the fall races at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway. At Richmond, Newman started 18th and fought his way into the top-10 near lap 100 and virtually stayed there for the remainder of the 400-lap event. Newman finished eighth.
After a test session on the newly paved Phoenix track in October, Newman and Co., returned there in late November for the penultimate race of the 2011 season. Despite a poor starting position on a tricky, newly paved track surface, Newman's savvy driving skills came into play as he managed to aggressively gain track
position without any incidents on the mile oval. Newman moved into the top-10 shortly after lap 100 and never looked back, finishing a solid fifth. This weekend at Phoenix will be Chassis No. 39-691’s first appearance in 2012.
JOEY LOGANO ON PHOENIX: “Phoenix is a unique track and it will be interesting to go back now a second time since they reconfigured the track and repaved it. The place was always racey before, but like any track when you put new pavement on it, it takes a little time for it to come back around and get back to the way it was. The one thing that stands out about Phoenix though is the fact that you think it’s just a one-mile track, but it is so much different. The way you enter the corners, how it is relatively flat and the kink in the backstretch just make it a unique place. It’s actually a lot of fun to race."
LOGANO CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #336 will ride with Logano and the Home Depot team at Phoenix this weekend. The car was used at Phoenix last season. Chassis #339 will serve at the team’s backup for Phoenix.
DENNY HAMLIN ON PHOENIX: “What I liked the most about it in the winter was the weather. It’s 75 (degrees) there every day. For me, it was just kind of like a vacation spot, but I just stayed out there an extended period of time. They have some great golf courses, great shopping and dining. It’s just really got everything because it’s a relatively new town and city. For me, of all the places I would want to go on vacation, I would pick there. I just spent my off season there because of that.”
KYLE BUSCH ON PHOENIX: "You’ve got to have a good car, but you’ve got to have good brakes. You’ve got to have a good-turning car, and you’ve got to have a good car that can accelerate off of turn two and go fast down the backstretch. There’s a lot involved at Phoenix, but being only the second race on the new surface, it could make it interesting.”
KYLE BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: No. 326 will make its fourth-ever start in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. This chassis made its debut in the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last September at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. After qualifying a solid ninth and running within the top-10 all race long, Busch ran out of gas with just two laps remaining, forcing him to come to pit road for a splash of gas, which led to a disappointing 22nd-place finish.
Up next, Busch qualified third and finished 11th in the Hollywood Casino 400 last October at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Most recently, the No. 18 team brought No. 326 to Phoenix last November. After qualifying 34th, Busch was forced to start at the rear of the field after the team changed an engine during the first practice session of the weekend. Despite the setback, Busch picked his way to the front and led 23 laps before more engine issues forced him to the sidelines after only completing 188 laps, relegating him to a disappointing 38th-place finish.
BRAD KESELOWSKI ON THE NEW PHOENIX CONFIGURATION: “I like the new Phoenix. They did an outstanding job in making a good racetrack better. It’s obviously going to take a few years before the track is in optimal condition, but with it being in the desert that process can sometimes be accelerated. I’m anxious to see how much it has aged over the winter. We saw last year that guys, myself included, were making passes through the dog leg. I don’t think anyone expected that going into the race. And the run you get off of Turn 4, down the frontstretch, has stayed the same. Those are the best places to pass.”
KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-810 during Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.
KURT BUSCH ON PHOENIX: “It’s a place where I grew up watching Cup races. When I was a kid, they didn’t have Las Vegas Motor Speedway, yet. So we traveled down to Phoenix to watch the big show. The years I went, guys like Terry Labonte, Davey Allison and Dale (Earnhardt) Sr., were down there winning. It was so cool. One year, we got pit passes to walk down pit road on Sunday morning at the start of the race. I was in awe that this was the big time. It’s amazing how it has all turned out. So Phoenix, to me, was the track I grew up watching races on. Then, when I got there as a racer to race in the Southwest tour, that was basically our Daytona 500. So, when you were racing on the West Coast, Phoenix was our Daytona. That’s how big Phoenix was for us.”
“That track fits my driving style with the flat, one-mile track layout and how tight the corners are. It’s a place where you have to slide the car just right to maintain a good pace around there. The track is a little unique with the old asphalt and the new asphalt. The other thing that separates Phoenix is how you have to balance the differences with turns one and two verses the differences in turns three and four. I have just always been able to understand that track and what the car needs to do to be fast.”
KURT BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k will be the second Phoenix race for this chassis which was built in June 2011. Landon Cassill finished 29th at Phoenix in Chassis No. 662 last fall. The car was also used in events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and September 2011, scoring 26th- and 30th-place finishes, respectively. Kurt Busch tested this chassis in January at Nashville Superspeedway during a two-day test session in preparation for the upcoming season.
JAMIE MCMURRAY ON PHOENIX: “I am obviously disappointed with the start that we had to the season with our result (31st) at Daytona, however this is a new week. I am looking forward to going back to Phoenix to race the new configuration that we ran there in the fall. We had a really good car in November, qualified in the top-10 and raced hard all day, but we got a pit road speeding penalty that we couldn’t overcome to get the finish that we felt we deserved. We will look forward to try and bounce back from Daytona in our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.”
McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1206. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No.1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats team will be bringing a brand new chassis, Chassis #1206, to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON PHOENIX: “The last time we raced there I think it was an interesting race with the new configuration. I think it is going to bring much better racing. Last time was good, but I think this time is going to be better. We have more knowledge heading into this race and it’s going to be an exciting race. It’s really the first race you really get to judge where we are as a team and how hard we need to work to catch up, or where we stand.”
MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1203. Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will be bringing a brand new chassis, Chassis #1203, to Phoenix International Raceway this weekend.
JEFF BURTON ON PHOENIX: “I think when we go to Phoenix International Raceway, no one really has an idea what to expect. The track changes so much from day-to-day. We were really fast there and ran well, but didn’t qualify that great. I think we were second-fastest in practice and the track slowed down a half-second from what we ran in practice. We ended up qualifying 14th, ran in the front all day and had a legitimate shot to win the race. We adapted pretty quick and were fast at the test sessions out there before the race also.”
KEVIN HARVICK ON PHOENIX: “The new surface was definitely racy. They did a great job prepping for the race. With the shorter tracks, the grip is greater but it’s a different environment than what you experience on the mile-and-a-half tracks. It was a great race. They spent a lot time laying the track out, taking their strength and weaknesses and thinking about the fans as to what they can see from their seats. It all played out really well and I hope to have another good race this weekend.”
HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 365 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This former No. 33 racer competed in three races in NASCAR’s senior division last season, placing finishes of 17th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, 22nd at Richmond International Raceway in September and 10th at Phoenix International Raceway in November.
PAUL MENARD ON PHOENIX: “I’ve described it (racing at the newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway) to people as feeling like a video game because it was like everything was perfect. The way the transitions were and the way it looked. There wasn’t a speck of dust on the place and no skid marks anywhere when we unloaded for the test. It was almost surreal at how neat the track was. Turns one and two still have the same character, as do turns three and four. The biggest difference is the dogleg in the back. It’s a huge elevation change. There’s a lot sharper and little bit longer corner and then another elevation change on exit. The back half of the race track is the biggest difference. We drive turns one, two, there and four the same as before.”
MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Fresh Fit 500. This Chevrolet Impala was utilized by the No. 27 team three times in 2011, most recently at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2011 where Menard started 11th and finished ninth. This chassis was also raced last season at Darlington Raceway in May, where the Eau Claire, Wis., native finished 22nd and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March where he finished 12th.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN ON THE OPPORTUNITY TO CUP RACE AGAIN AND RACING AT PHOENIX: “The opportunity to run four races for Richard Childress in the Sprint Cup Series is truly amazing. RCR has top-notch equipment and teamed me with a winning crew chief in Gil Martin. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am ecstatic that my second chance in the Sprint Cup Series is in the No. 33 Chevrolet with RCR.”
“After talking with some of my RCR teammates, they told me that the track hasn’t changed all that much, they just made the track a little “racier” off of turn 2. The Chevrolet Impala I’m driving had a win last year so I’m really looking forward to going to Phoenix in equipment the caliber I have never had a chance to drive in my career.”
The Fresh Fit 500 will mark Gaughan’s 38th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his first since the 2010 Daytona 500. The Las Vegas native raced full-time in NASCAR’s top series during the 2004 season, posting one top-five and four top -10 finishes. Phoenix marks the first of four Sprint Cup Series starts with RCR for 2012, Gaughan will also race the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speeedway and Auto Club Speedway events during the month of March.
GAUGHAN CHASSIS CHOICE: Brendan Gaughan will pilot Chassis No. 351 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala is a proven contender in Sprint Cup Series competition, as Gaughan’s RCR teammate Kevin Harvick made a trip to Victory Lane with it in May 2011 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Harvick also drove this former No. 29 racer to a seventh-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September, a 10th-place finish at Dover International Speedway in October and a 19th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in November.
KASEY KAHNE ON PHOENIX: “Getting that win (at Phoenix International Raceway) was a huge boost for our team last year. I think the track was probably the best I can remember a brand-new race surface being in the first race. It started slippery and got better as the rubber built up. We made the adjustments we needed to put ourselves up front at the end. I’m excited to get back there with the Farmers Insurance guys this week.”
JEFF GORDON ON PHOENIX: “No, I like the old one (PIR track configuration) better. But that’s sometimes what happens with a re-pave or a new design. And the way that they did it, it changes the tire. It changes the track and how you have to drive it. And so we have to adapt to that. And one of the things we worked heavily on during the off-season was preparing for that race to make sure that when we go back there we don’t have the issues that we had the last time we were there. We had break issues. I wasn’t comfortable with how the car was handling. We started to get better as the race went on, so I’m more confident this time than I was the first time we were there (since the repaving). And I feel like we have good data from our teammates. Not only (did) Tony (Stewart) ran well, but Kasey (Kahne) and (crew chief) Kenny Francis did very well there obviously winning the race. So I feel pretty good about going back there.”
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Picks
By Greg Engle
The very last thing the NASCAR Sprint Cup series needs to worry about this week is rain. After waiting and wading through the wet stuff at Daytona, the series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500.
This “Duel in the Desert” won’t have the high speeds or drama of last Monday’s Daytona 500, but a win here pays just as many points towards the season championship, making a victory equally as important.
Based on their history here and the performance last week at Daytona, there are two standouts for Sunday's race. These two favorites have something to prove and could be hard to beat in the desert heat.
Carl Edwards started on the pole in Phoenix last season and was looking to repeat his victory from 2010. He led twice for 21 laps, but an early-race incident with Kyle Busch ended his day in the garage. When the series returned to Phoenix in November, drivers found a new track, with new pavement and a new configuration. Edwards finished second in that race and is ready to seal the deal with a win Sunday.
“The weather looks like it’s going to be great,” Edwards said. “I’m really excited to see how the track has aged over the winter. I thought the surface was very racy last time we were there and I think everyone is excited to see if it gets even better for the race this weekend. This is a huge race for us being the Subway Fresh Fit 500 and we’re racing the Subway Ford, so a win would be huge. A year ago we felt like we had the fastest car and got it torn up early in the race, so it would be wonderful to go back there again and be able to win this thing.”
A driver who seems to have renewed energy is Jeff Burton. Burton looked strong during Speedweeks and during the Daytona 500. He finished fourth on the new configuration at Phoenix in the fall and has two career wins here.
"It's been a really good track for me,” Burton said. “Knock on wood, every time I go there we run well and have been in position to win the race. We even won it several times. It's just been a good track. When we go there, I'm very comfortable and feel like we know what it takes to win."
Feeling lucky? Give A.J. Allmendinger a chance. The Dinger was impressive in his first outing with the powerful Penske team and was sixth at Phoenix in the fall with equipment from Richard Petty Motorsports - a team a notch or two below Penske. The dude knows how to get around Phoenix and could lead the way Sunday.
Tony Stewart vs. Kurt Busch: Both Stewart and Busch usually don’t bloom until later in the season. Stewart had a so-so Speedweeks looking strong at times, but finished 16th in the Daytona 500. Busch, with a new underfunded team, showed his talent behind the wheel but was caught up in an accident and posted a poor finish. Last February at Phoenix, Busch finished eighth, while Stewart finished just ahead in seventh. However, in the fall with the new track, Stewart was fourth while Busch was 22nd. Look for a repeat of that race: Stewart will finish ahead of Busch.
Jeff Gordon vs. Jimmie Johnson: Both Gordon and Johnson had forgettable races in the season opener. Johnson was swept up in a crash on the second lap, while Gordon’s engine erupted in flames. Both drivers were forced to watch the Daytona 500 from the garage. Johnson has the highest driver rating among the Top 12 drivers here and has four wins, his last coming in 2009. Gordon is the defending winner of this event, but both Johnson and Gordon struggled here in the fall race. Both could surprise and win it all, but the odds are against it. This should be a good matchup with Johnson coming out ahead.
Matt Kenseth won the 2002 race from the No. 28 starting position - the furthest back an active race winner has started. The race has been won from the pole four times: Jeff Gordon (spring 2007), Jimmie Johnson (fall 2008), Mark Martin (spring 2009) and Carl Edwards (fall 2010).
Carl Edwards +800
Jeff Burton +3000
A.J. Allmendinger +3,000
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
Driver Handicaps: Phoenix
By: Jeff Wackerlin
This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 312-lap event.
Who's HOT at Phoenix
• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers in wins (4), laps led (876) and average finish (5.4).
• Kasey Kahne won the first race on the track's new configuration for his second consecutive top 10.
• Defending event winner Jeff Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 18 of his 26 starts.
• Carl Edwards has one win, a second-place finish and has combined to lead 141 laps in his last three starts.
• Tony Stewart led the most laps (160) in the first race on the track's new configuration en route to his second consecutive top 10.
• Mark Martin has posted five finishes of eighth or better, including one win, in his last eight starts.
• Denny Hamlin is fifth among all drivers in average finish (11.6) at Phoenix.
• Ryan Newman has finished in the top five in his last four starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
Keep an Eye On at Phoenix
• AJ Allmendinger, who will make his track debut with Penske Racing, has finished in the top 10 in his last two starts at Phoenix.
• Kurt Busch, who will make his track debut with Phoenix Racing, has posted five top 10s and led 300 laps in the last six races at PIR.
• Kevin Harvick, who swept both races in 2006, has a 10.5 average finish in his last four starts at PIR.
• 2012 Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth won the pole and led 49 laps at PIR last fall. The last time he won the '500' he went on to win the second race of the season.
• Greg Biffle, who looks to continue his strong start in 2012, participated in a brake test at Orlando Speedway last week to try and overcome the issues they experienced at PIR last year.
• Jeff Burton is coming off his eighth top 10 in 15 starts with Richard Childress Racing at PIR.
• Kyle Busch finished second in this event last year for his eighth top 10 in 14 starts at Phoenix.
• Clint Bowyer, who will make track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing, finished 10th last fall for this third top 10 in his last five starts.
Note: Five of the last six races at Phoenix have seen drivers break long winless streaks. The most recent was Kasey Kahne, who snapped an 81-race winless drought. Martin Truex Jr. (168) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (130) are two notable drivers heading into Phoenix that have yet to reach Victory Lane in quite some time.
MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Carl Edwards
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Craig Moore: AJ Allmendinger
John Singler: Jimmie Johnson
Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Phoenix unless noted)
Matt Kenseth: Won the pole and led 49 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Finished 34th in that event after a crash took him out of contention; Last of eight top 10s came in the 2010 fall race in seventh.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: Scored third top 10 in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports last year in this event; Fifth among all drivers in laps led (460); Won the 2003 and 2004 races with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Greg Biffle: Last of five top 10s in 16 starts came in the 2010 fall race in 10th; Had brake issues last year at Phoenix so the team did a brake test at Orlando Speedway last week; 10th-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 778) that he last finished third with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin: Finished 11th and 12th, respectively, last year; Scored four straight finishes of sixth or better from 2008 to 2009; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (11.6); Seventh-best driver rating in the last 14 races.
Jeff Burton: Finished fourth last fall for seventh top five in 25 starts; Eight top 10s in 15 starts with Richard Childress Racing; Won the 2000 and 2001 races with Roush Racing; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 382) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Paul Menard: Coming off first top 10 (ninth) in 10 starts; 13.0 average finish in two starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he raced at Phoenix last fall.
Kevin Harvick: Finished fourth in this event last year for eighth top 10 in 18 starts; Swept both races in 2006; Finished 19th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Ninth-best driver rating in the past 14 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis 365) that Clint Bowyer drove to a 10th-place finish last fall at Phoenix.
Carl Edwards: Finished second and led 27 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Finish was 10th top 10 in 15 starts; Has combined to lead 141 laps in last three races; Second-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 801) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Joey Logano: 16.5 average finish in six starts; Best finish (third) came in the 2010 fall race; Has yet to lead a lap; Will return in the same car that the team utilized at Phoenix last season (finished 33rd and 11th).
Mark Martin: Making track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing; Scored second win in 30 starts in this event in 2009; Four of his 19 top 10s have come in his last six starts; Second among all drivers in average finish (9.0); Sixth-best driver rating in the last 14 races.
Clint Bowyer: Making track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing; Scored five top 10s in 13 starts with Richard Childress Racing; Finished 10th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 712) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Martin Truex Jr: 16.5 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Last of four top 10s came from the pole in the 2009 fall race with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Finished 20th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration.
Marcos Ambrose: Coming off first top 10 (eighth) in seven starts; 14.3 average finish.
Bobby Labonte: 21.0 average finish in two starts with JTG-Daugherty Racing; Last of nine top 10s came in the 2007 spring race.
Dave Blaney: 35.3 average finish in three starts with Tommy Baldwin Racing; Last of two top 10s came in 2002.
Tony Stewart: Finished third and led the most laps (160) last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Fourth among all drivers in average finish (11.3); Third-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 637) that he won with at New Hampshire and ran at Phoenix last fall.
Kyle Busch: 13.3 average finish in eight starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Won the 2005 fall race with Hendrick Motorsports; Eighth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 326) that he finished 36th with last fall at Phoenix after the engine expired.
Ryan Newman: Has finished fifth or better in the last four races; Won this event in 2010; will return in the same car (chassis No. 691) that he finished fifth with at Phoenix last fall.
Kasey Kahne: Won the first race on the new track configuration last fall; Win was second straight top 10; Five top 10s in 15 starts; Making track debut with Hendrick Motorsports.
Jamie McMurray: Last of two top 10s came in the 2010 fall race in 10th; Best finish (third) came in the 2008 fall race with Roush Racing; Will debut a new chassis (No. 1206) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Brad Keselowski: Best finish (15th) in five starts came in this event last year; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 25.6) in the Sunway Fresh Fit 500.
AJ Allmendinger: Coming off best finish (sixth), and second consecutive top 10, in seven starts; Making track debut with Penske Racing.
Juan Pablo Montoya: 17.0 average finish in 10 starts; Best finish came in this event in 2010 when he led 104 laps en route to a fifth-place finish; Finished 15th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1203) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Kurt Busch: Finished 22nd and led 57 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Third among all drivers in laps led (748); Fourth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Making track debut with Phoenix Racing; Will race the same car (chassis No. 662) that Landon Cassill finished 29th with last fall at Phoenix.
Jeff Gordon: Defending race winner; Win was second, and 18th top 10, in 26 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (10.9); Fifth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Finished 32nd last fall in the first race on the new track configuration.
Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers in average finish (5.4) and laps led (876); Best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 14th win last fall at Phoenix.
Re: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Betting News and Notes
NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings
Practice Notes - Phoenix
Rating Driver Odds Practice ` Practice 2 Qualified* Phoenix*
1 Kasey Kahne 12/1 5th 4th 10th 1st
Notes: 2011 fall winner, sixth in spring; had best 10 consecutive lap average in final practice.
2 Greg Biffle 18/1 3rd 13th 7th 13th
Notes: Two-time runner-up; using same third-place New Hampshire chassis from fall of 2011.
3 Jimmie Johnson 7/1 24th 7th 4th 14th
Notes: Four-time winner with a track record 5.4 average finish in 17 starts, seventh or better 14 times.
4 Tony Stewart 7/1 1st 23rd 2nd 3rd
Notes: 1999 winner and three-time runner-up; using winning New Hampshire chassis from 2011 Chase.
5 Jeff Gordon 8/1 17th 5th 30th 32nd
Notes: Two-time winner, the last coming in this race last season; 10.9 average finish in 26 starts.
6 Mark Martin 40/1 2nd 15th 1st 16th
Notes: Two-time winner, the last coming in 2009; second best average finish of 9.0 in 30 starts.
7 Carl Edwards 7/1 16th 27th 24th 2nd
Notes: 2010 fall winner and arguably the fastest car of the last three events; debuts new car.
8 Kyle Busch 7/1 7th 25th 12th 36th
Notes: 2005 winner while driving No. 5 Hendrick car, runner-up last spring; using 2011 Phoenix chassis.
9 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 25/1 3rd 11th 29th 24th
Notes: Two-time winner, the last coming in 2004. Using new chassis; fast in race trim during practice.
10 Ryan Newman 20/1 4th 9th 6th 5th
Notes: 2010 winner with four straight top5 finishes; using back-up car after wrecking in first practice.
* Results from the November 13, 2011 race at Phoenix, the last race run on the track and first under new configuration.
Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.
Kasey Kahne won me over in the first Phoenix practice session with the top average speeds and the fifth fastest single lap. When he came out in the final practice with the best 10 consecutive lap average, I was all in. Those are the type of valuable categories that all the great cars of the past have had in recent wins at Phoenix, such as Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson.
I still like all the rest of the Hendrick cars to do well, even Johnson despite all the dark clouds hanging over their garage. Playing all of them in match-ups should present some value as long as they aren’t matched up against each other. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see all four cars finish within the top-8.
Tony Stewart was great in qualifying trim and led the single fastest lap in the first session, but I’m looking to down-grade him a bit and shy away completely. When the race trim came on, Stewart wasn’t that good, although he was third behind Kahne in best 10 consecutive lap average.
The top long shots of the race are Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, and Ryan Newman. Even though Newman went to a back-up car, it still ran just as good in the final practice. These type of tracks have been Newman’s best since joining Stewart-Haas.
Match-up of the Week:
Kasey Kahne -105 vs. Denny Hamlin: Needless to say, I like Kahne a lot in this race. I will play him in almost any match-up that doesn't involve another Hendrick car. I don't like Stewart as much, but I would stay away from that sneaky good driver as well. But everyone else at a reasonable price that I don't have to lay over -135, it's all Kahne.