Race: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Picks
Date: Sunday March 4th, 2012
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Time: 2:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper
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Based on the craziness that was Daytona, it is really hard to gauge just how good the drivers and teams really are! There was a big wreck on lap 2. Jimmie Johnson was taken out from the beginning along with a handful of other drivers. Jeff Gordon’s motor blew up. Juan Pablo Montoya nearly went up in flames along with a jet dryer that he hit during a caution. It was certainly a primetime night to remember for an epic Daytona 500. Matt Kenseth came away with the win, probably because he was one of the only major contenders left. Dale Jr. shocked us all with a strong 2nd place run and probably would’ve taken the win given one more lap. Greg Biffle rounded out an overall strong night with a 3rd place finish.
This weekend, we are headed to the blue walls of Phoenix International Raceway. This is a really great track that a lot of drivers love. Carl Edwards along with the rest of the Roush team really thrives here. We also see strong runs from Jeff Gordon and new teammate Kasey Kahne.
Phoenix is a 1 mile tri-oval. It has 11 degree banking in turns 1 and 2, with 3 degrees on the frontstretch and 9 degrees on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 1179 with the backstretch just slightly longer at 1551 feet. This track is fast and races a lot like a short track. With the tri-oval, it’s pretty unique. Like the tri-oval at Daytona, drivers have to be careful of where they decide to pass. That is part of the reason that this track races like a short track at times. Guys can get bunched up in the turns and bump each other; however, we still see the speed of the bigger tracks that guys can get here because of the length of the backstretch. It’s like we have the best of both worlds with Phoenix.
When we take a look at the history of the winners here, we see a lot of Roush success here as I previously mentioned. One name that cannot be ignored, though, is Jimmie Johnson. The problem here is that we have no idea how well his car can perform nor his team and himself! Taken out in a wreck on just lap 2 of the Daytona 500, we had no chance to see what kind of changes he has made during the off-season. All of that being said, there are a few drivers that we can confidently say had strong runs. Greg Biffle is one of the guys that I would bet on for Sunday. Along with Biffle, I’d put a little money on Jr., even though he tends to leave us feeling unpredictable about his runs. He had a strong week of runs throughout all events during Speed Weeks. Jimmie Johnson will be strong simply because he excels at this particular track. What it all boils down to, however, are those winners, mid-picks, and dark horses. Here are my Subway Fresh Fit 500 picks:
My pick to win the Subway Fresh Fit 500: Greg Biffle
Middle of the road pick: Jeff Burton
Darkhorse prediction: A.J. Allmendinger
Allmendinger has had a pole here in the past, and he’s now with Penske racing. He’s been given the best, so we’ll have to wait and see what he’s got for ’em. Jeff Burton is the mid-pick because he’s another one of those drivers that you just never know about. He started out the season strong over the last few years and just fell off towards the end, so this year, we will have to see if he has what it takes to stay up front. Finally, after Biffle’s performance at Daytona, I really think that he could pull out the win here. He’s got what seems to be a lot of motivation for the season as well as a strong team coming into 2012.
Here are your current top 10 in the points after Daytona:
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Greg Biffle
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Jeff Burton
6. Paul Menard
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Carl Edwards
9. Joey Logano
10. Mark Martin
These standings are subject to change a lot over the next month. We really have no idea as of right now just how true the points really are. After all, Daytona really is just a ‘who can stay out of trouble’ kind of track to win at. Moving on to Phoenix will start to give us a better idea of what teams are going to remain consistently good throughout the season, but be prepared for it to take quite a few weeks for the points to stabilize. There are several teams with huge changes. With those changes come stronger competitors. I think that the field will be filled with more drivers fighting for the top 10 than not this season. The cutoff is going to shut out a lot of good guys this year in my opinion.
Another great place to bet on NASCAR races is BetOnline where they offer head to head driver matchups as well!