Cut To The Chase: Phoenix

RacingOne breaks down each of the 2006 "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" competitor's performances at Phoenix International Raceway with comprehensive statistics and notes by driver.

1. Jimmie Johnson
Points: 6157
Best Chase Track by Average: Charlotte
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 14 (Including Martinsville 2006)
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: First

Jimmie Johnson currently has the best average finish (8.7) among all active drivers at Phoenix International Raceway. His best finish at PIR came in 2003 after he started third and finished second. That race also marked the last time Johnson has led laps at the 1-mile track, after leading 84 circuits. Johnson lowered his starting average at PIR to 12.8 after he posted his best qualifying effort of second last fall. This weekend Johnson will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 48278) that recorded his fourth top 10 at PIR by finishing seventh in April.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
6
0
0
12.8
8.7
85
100.0
0
Homestead
5
0
0
25.4
15.6
34
89.3
1
Totals
11
0
0
19.1
12.2
119
94.7
1


2. Matt Kenseth
Points Behind: -17
Best Chase Track by Average: New Hampshire
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 4
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Ninth

Matt Kenseth has captured one win (2002) and four top-10 finishes in eight races at Phoenix International Raceway. His average finish (20.8) is the worst among the "Chase" contenders that have started three or more races at PIR. Kenseth matched his worst finish of 42nd in the 2005 spring race, his third DNF at the track. Kenseth, who has led 60 laps at Phoenix, will drive the same car (chassis No. 353) on Sunday that finished third in its debut at PIR in the spring.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
8
0
1
21.0
20.8
60
82.2
3
Homestead
6
0
0
26.0
25.5
0
82.1
2
Totals
14
0
1
23.5
23.2
60
82.2
5


3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Points Behind: -78
Best Chase Track by Average: Texas
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 10
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Eighth

Prior to his last two finishes at Phoenix International Raceway of 40th and 23rd, respectively, Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored four consecutive top fives. In that span he won back-to-back races in 2003 and 2004 and led a combined 310 laps. With only eight starts, Junior is one of two active drivers to post multiple victories at the one-mile speedway. This weekend Earnhardt Jr. will return in the same car (chassis No. 41) that finished fourth and 22nd, respectively, at Martinsville in 2006.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
8
0
2
15.1
17.2
310
90.9
2
Homestead
6
0
0
20.8
19.2
46
99.7
0
Totals
14
0
2
18.0
18.2
356
95.3
2


4. Denny Hamlin
Points Behind: -80
Best Chase Track by Average: Texas
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 0
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Tenth

Denny Hamlin holds the best starting average (3.5) and the worst finishing average (23.5) among the "Chase" contenders at Phoenix International Raceway. Last year in this event, Hamlin won his first career Bud Pole and went on to led 23 laps before a missed lug nut on a late pit stop relegated him to a 13th-place finish - his best at Phoenix. This weekend Hamlin will pilot a brand new car (chassis No. 133) at PIR.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
2
1
0
3.5
23.5
23
96.3
0
Homestead
1
0
0
42.0
33.0
1
98.5
0
Totals
3
1
0
22.8
28.3
24
97.4
0


5. Kevin Harvick
Points: -105
Best Chase Track by Average: Homestead
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 3 (Including New Hampshire 2006)
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Seventh

Kevin Harvick swept the weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in the spring to pick up his first NASCAR Busch and Cup victories at the track. The Cup win was his second top 10 in seven starts. Harvick, who also has two Truck victories at PIR, will be back in the same car (chassis No. 120) that won at New Hampshire from the pole. The car will take on a different look this weekend as it will carry a Reese's Milk Chocolate Layered Cookies paint scheme.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
7
0
1
16.1
16.4
10
99.2
0
Homestead
5
0
0
15.6
9.4
59
100.0
0
Totals
12
0
1
15.9
12.9
69
99.6
0


6. Jeff Gordon
Points Behind: -184
Best Chase Track by Average: Kansas
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 28
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Second

Phoenix International Raceway is one of three tracks where Jeff Gordon hasn't visited Victory Lane. Gordon's worst finish, and only outside the top 10, in the last 10 races was a 12th-place finish in the 2005 spring race. Last year in this event, Gordon equaled his best finish at the track for the third time by finishing third. Gordon has combined to lead 126 laps in three of the last four races at PIR. After getting married this week to Ingrid Vandebosch, Gordon will look to capture the same magic he did after announcing his engagement, with a victory this weekend, just like he did in June at Infineon.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
15
1
0
10.3
8.9
191
97.4
1
Homestead
7
0
0
15.4
9.6
46
99.8
0
Totals
22
1
0
12.9
9.3
237
98.6
1


7. Jeff Burton
Points Behind: -184
Best Chase Track by Average: Phoenix
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 11 (Including Dover 2006)
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Fourth

Jeff Burton has competed in 14 events at Phoenix International Raceway, capturing two victories (2000 and 2001), five top fives and seven top 10s. His third-place run in the 2005 spring race was his best effort since his last victory. Although Burton has yet to lead a lap at Phoenix with Richard Childress Racing, his ninth-place finish in the spring was his second top 10 with the team at the track. This weekend Burton will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 175) that finished seventh at New Hampshire in July.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
14
0
2
23.5
11.6
215
99.6
0
Homestead
7
0
0
24.3
13.7
5
97.7
0
Totals
21
0
2
23.9
12.7
220
98.7
0


8. Kyle Busch
Points Behind: -233
Best Chase Track by Average: Dover
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 2
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Sixth

Kyle Busch won this event last year at Phoenix Int'l Raceway after leading 63 laps from the 15th starting position. It was his second consecutive top 10 at PIR after finishing eighth in 2005. In April, Busch won the pole but had his bid for two straight Phoenix Cup wins end on lap 100, when he was caught up in one of two crashes that happened on the same lap. He went on to finish 36th.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
3
1
1
14.3
15.0
78
94.3
0
Homestead
1
0
0
4.0
41.0
0
43.1
1
Totals
4
1
1
9.2
28.0
78
68.7
1


9. Mark Martin
Points Behind: -253
Best Chase Track by Average: Phoenix
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 17
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Third

Mark Martin is the only "Chase" competitor that has competed in every event at Phoenix International Raceway. His eight top fives, 13 top 10s and 582 laps led ranks No. 1 among all active drivers. Along with his only victory in 1993, Martin has collected six finishes of second or better giving him a solid finishing average of 9.4. In the spring Martin led 111 laps and appeared to be on his way to a strong finish before running out of gas on the last lap. This weekend Martin will be back in the same car (chassis RK-221) that finished 11th in the April race.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
20
0
1
11.4
9.4
582
97.5
1
Homestead
7
0
0
18.0
11.6
30
98.7
1
Totals
27
0
1
14.7
10.5
612
98.1
2


10. Kasey Kahne
Points Behind: -290
Best Chase Track by Average: Atlanta
Total Wins on Chase Tracks: 4 (Including Charlotte 2006)
Average Phoenix Finish Rank Among Chase Drivers: Fifth

Kasey Kahne is the only "Chase" contender that has yet to lead a lap at Phoenix International Raceway. In April, Kahne recorded his first top five at PIR by finishing fifth from his best starting position of fourth. The finish also lowered his average to 13.8, which ranks fifth among the 10 "Chase" drivers. This weekend he will drive a brand new car (chassis No. 121) that was tested at Richmond and Milwaukee.

Track
Starts
Poles
Wins
Avg. Start
Avg. Finish
Laps Led
% Completed
DNFs
Phoenix
4
0
0
15.5
13.8
0
99.9
0
Homestead
2
0
0
3.5
27.0
0
85.3
1
Totals
6
0
0
9.5
20.4
0
92.6
1

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