Subway Fresh Fit 500 Preview and Picks

Race: Subway Fresh Fit 500
Date: Saturday April 12, 2008
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Time: 8 pm ET
Channel: FOX

So here we are at Phoenix this week, one of the little big short tracks on the circuit. It’s a one mile tri-oval that’s relatively flat with varying banks along the turns and the stretches. In turns one and two, we see eleven degree banking. Turns three and four boast nine degree banking as does the backstretch. The front stretch only yields three degree banking. This track is similar to Martinsville in that it is pretty flat and pretty fast. It’s one of those tracks that drivers do either really well at or really poorly at. Additionally, it’s one of those tracks that is hard to predict a winner for.

Looking at the history of this track, we see a great deal of variety among the pole sitters and the winners. Especially this year, we have seen such a scope of winners on every track. There has been little to no consistency among individual drivers with the exception of the Roush drivers and Jeff Burton. It’s starting to look like Jimmie Johnson is getting into his groove, at least better than he started off the year. Jeff Gordon, who saw only his second ever last place finish last week at Texas, is hoping to redeem himself here at Phoenix. He has only one win here, but with three poles and the configuration somewhat like that of Martinsville, he always runs well here. We also have to look out for the Roush guys again this weekend. Between Kenseth and Biffle, we can never count them out. They’ve consistently performed inside the top ten for most races this season. Their teammate, Carl Edwards, seems to be on fire though. With three wins already, Edwards is going to be hard to stop. Coming off a win last weekend, he is going to give everyone a run for their money. He has a pole here and also qualified third for the race tomorrow night.

Other guys that we need to watch are the RCR guys of Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick. Burton is our points leader. He also performs very well here as does his teammate. Burton has two wins here. Although his qualifying run only puts him in the 39th spot, he proved last weekend that a bad qualifying spot can still put you in the top five or ten when it matters most. Kevin Harvick also has two wins.

Some other guys that we can’t ever count out are Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has two wins, and Tony Stewart with his teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Hamlin grabbed the pole for tonight’s Nationwide race and has the sixth fastest practice time so far. Tony Stewart is always great on these types of tracks. Busch is just one heck of a driver. He will drive any track like he owns it. It’s also close to his hometown and he has plenty of miles around this tri-oval.

The top ten practice speeds are:

1. Ryan Newman
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Mark Martin
4. Kyle Busch
5. Casey Mears
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Carl Edwards
8. Jeff Gordon
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Tony Stewart

Although Newman has the fastest practice speeds and the pole for tomorrow night, he can’t ever seem to maintain consistency through the end of the race. If the race was 75 laps, I’d tell you to put money on him. But being that it’s a bit longer, I’d say rocket man Newman is a one lap wonder this week. He just won’t make it to the checkers in that lead spot.

The top ten qualifiers for tomorrow night’s race are:

1. Ryan Newman
2. Elliot Sadler
3. Carl Edwards
4. Mark Martin
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Kyle Busch
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Scott Riggs

So here they are. If I HAD to pick someone for this weekend’s race, I’d have to put my money on Jeff Burton or Carl Edwards. I pick Edwards for the win and Burton for a top five if not a close second. Edwards is on a roll and has proven his worth on this track. Burton’s performance from Martinsville and coming back from a 35th starting spot last weekend has proven that he has what it takes to grab the win. All in all, any one of the drivers from Roush, Gibbs, or even Hendrick has a shot. That’s the hard part. Denny Hamlin is sure to be a competitor as well. I say Edwards and Burton, but there are plenty others who have just about the same shot this weekend. Good luck to you all, and we’ll see how things go tomorrow night!