Race: Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil
Date: Sunday November 9, 2008
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Time: 3 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
Phoenix is notoriously a fun race to watch. It’s a one mile tri-oval with different banking in the turns and on the straights. There tends to be a lot of action here as well, especially being the next-to-last race in the Chase. You better believe that with the Chase being such a tight draw that these guys are going to be wild. It’s going to be a free-for-all in terms of taking risks and beating each other out. This late in the year, we start to see guys throw out the Hail Mary calls in an effort to fool the other drivers and to increase or tighten the points race (whichever the case may be).
Phoenix tends to be a good track for those who are good on the other intermediates like Texas that we saw this past weekend. Phoenix boasts varying degrees of banking though, with eleven degrees in turns 1 and 2, nine degrees in turns 3 and 4, three degrees on the frontstretch, and nine degrees on the backstretch. It’s a pretty fast track, and we should see a lot of good side by side racing along with some potential fuel mileage and tire gambles.
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The historical winners at this track point to basically two people. Kevin Harvick actually does very well here. He’s consistently running for the win and has taken the checkers twice before. I would say that he is going to be a contender this weekend. He just needs to manage to get his car back to where it was in the earlier half of the season.
Jimmie Johnson is the other guy to watch here. He’s had his two career wins here consecutively from last fall and this spring. I mean counting out Johnson is like saying that Tom Brady doesn’t have a shot to pull off a win against a team like Oakland (no offense to all you Raiders fans out there!). It’s inevitable that Johnson will pull something out of his hat. He always does. But then again, he proved this past weekend that he’s not invincible. Edwards essentially needs 50 points a race for the last two and he’ll be in Jimmie’s shoes.
That’s not to say that the Roush guys don’t have a chance. I mean, Kenseth has a win or two here. Edwards is usually in contention. It’s one of those tracks that he runs well on. Teammate Greg Biffle, who’s third in points, also has a chance as closing the gap a little bit too, although his chances aren’t as practical as Edwards’ in terms of taking the title.
Here’s a refresher of your current top 12 in points:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jeff Burton
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Tony Stewart
10. Kyle Busch
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12. Denny Hamlin
I dare to say that Edwards has some catching up to do. There’s no doubt that it can be done. But the question really is who is better than Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus? That’s quite a pair to live up to. Let’s see if these guys do something a little different this weekend. I wouldn’t put it past anyone to make some changes or run their cars a little different in race trim and qualifying trim. It ain’t over til it’s over boys.