The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the 35th race of the 2010 season, the Kobalt Tools 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, November 14, 2010; 3:15 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a high around 72; wind out of the NNE at 6 mph. There is a 10 percent change of precipitation on Sunday.
The Track: Phoenix International Raceway
PIR is a relatively flat (11 and nine degree banking in the corners) one mile oval. Hendrick Motorsports driver's Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have won six of the last seven races at PIR. Kevin Harvick dominated both races in 2006 and the Busch Brothers won both races at the track in 2005. All five are options this weekend.
Key to Race: Which Hendrick Driver will win?
Hendrick Motorsports has dominated PIR the past few years. We anticipate all drivers from its stable will be fast. Roush-Fenway will also bring some quality cars to the race to challenge Hendrick's dominance at Phoenix.
46 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the 2010 owners points will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 are determined during qualifying on Friday, November 12 at 5:40 pm/et.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has 12 top 10 finishes in 15 career starts at PIR. He won four of the past six races at the track and with an improved pit crew he is the obvious pick to win.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has been very successful at PIR during his career. We like him to make the top 10 and with some luck could crack the top five.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has led 316 laps in the past nine races at PIR including wins in both the 2006 races. He is good bet to crack the top 10.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon won the April 2007 race and has 18 top 10 finishes in 23 career starts at PIR. We look for him to be very strong again this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has finished in the top 11 in nine of the past 11 Phoenix races. He is a great pick this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 5 Mark Martin: Martin has finished in the top 20 in his last 26 starts at PIR. He won the spring race in 2009 and will be very fast again this weekend.
No. 2 Kurt Busch: Busch usually brings a very fast sled at PIR. He will be in the mix to win.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has led 349 laps in the past 11 races at PIR. He should have the No. 16 ride inside the top 10 this weekend.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Smoke has finished inside the top 15 in seven of the past 10 races at PIR. He should have a good ride once again.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy brought one of the top cars to the spring race at PIR. If he can use his middle finger to hold the steering wheel instead of waive at the NASCAR official he could crack the top five.
11 to 20
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has been awesome at PIR during his career. He has two wins and 18 of 19 top 15 finishes. He is a great choice for a strong finish.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished in the top six in four of the last nine races
at PIR. He will battle the lead-pack all day.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has cracked the top 20 in five of the past six races at PIR. He should finish near the top 10 this weekend.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has averaged a 15th place finish at Phoenix the past four years. He should take the checkers right around this average.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano finished 10th this spring at PIR. He will bring a good car to Sunday's race.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. has finished in the top 22 in eight of his nine career starts at PIR. Another strong finish is expected.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman won the spring race at PIR and has three additional top five finishes at the track.
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. 00 David Reutimann: Rudy cracked the top 10 in both races at PIR last season. He is a nice sleeper option this week.
No. 47 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has cracked the top 20 in all four of his career starts at PIR. He is a great sleeper option.
21 to 30
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger took the pole and led 16 laps at PIR in April. He could be a factor again this weekend.
No. 98 Paul Menard: Menard has cracked top 30 in all seven of his career starts at PIR. We like him as a decent budget pick.
No. 12 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished 16th at PIR this spring. He should finish just outside the top 20 this weekend.
No. 77 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish Jr. ran great races at PIR the past few trips. He should be decent again this weekend.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: PIR has been one of Jamie Mac's worst tracks. This isn't the weekend to take a chance on him.
No. 83 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has averaged just a 23rd place finish the past eight races at PIR. He is a risky pick.
No. 83 Aric Almirola: Almirola has been iffy at best at PIR. He will need a lots of luck to crack the top 20.
No. 6 David Ragan: Ragan has averaged a 25th place finish during his career at PIR. He isn't much of an option.
No. 19 Elliott Sadler: Sadler won't help your team, but he won't destroy it. There are far better and worse fantasy options.
No. 82 Scott Speed: Speed qualified second at PIR this spring. He should bring another fast ride, at least for qualifying.
31 to 35
No. 78 Regan Smith: Regan drove a solid race last weekend at Texas. He is a good driver to take a chance on in deep leagues.
No. 37 David Gilliland: Since missing the Daytona 500, Gilliland has averaged a 29th place finish. He is someone to keep an eye on for those of you in the deepest of NASCAR fantasy leagues.
No. 38 Travis Kvapil: Kvapil usually qualifies awful, but he always somehow manages to get his car inside the top 35 when the checkers fly. He should be able to accomplish his magic again on Sunday.
No. 09 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has five top 10 finishes in the past 12 races at Phoenix, but that was racing for better funded teams. He won't have enough horses this weekend to be much of sleeper pick.
No. 7 Robby Gordon: Gordon isn't an option this weekend.
No. 13 Casey Mears
No. 71 Brendan Gaughan
No. 34 Tony Raines
No. 26 Bill Elliott
No. 81 Terry Labonte
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 46 Michael McDowell
No. 55 Mike Bliss
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 66 Jason Leffler
No. 64 Landon Cassill
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Jeff Gordon
1. Marcos Ambrose
2. Martin Truex Jr.
Bust of the Week: