Driver Handicaps: Phoenix

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson has posted a stellar 2.5 average finish in the last 10 races at PIR. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages | Loop Data eBook | Driver Ratings | Past Winners

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 312-lap event.

Who's HOT at Phoenix
• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers in wins (4), laps led (876) and average finish (4.8).
• Spring winner Jeff Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 18 of his 25 starts.
• Denny Hamlin has posted a 9.2 average finish in his last 10 starts. 
• Kurt Busch has posted five top 10s and led 243 laps in the last six races.
• Kevin Harvick, who swept both races in 2006, has a 5.0 average finish in his last two starts.
• Ryan Newman has finished in the top five in his last three starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Defending race winner Carl Edwards has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts.
• Mark Martin has posted five finishes of eighth or better, including one win, in his last seven starts.

Keep an Eye On at Phoenix 
• Tony Stewart, who finished seventh in the spring at Phoenix, led testing on the new PIR configuration last month.
• Kasey Kahne has finished sixth or better in five of the last six races this season.
• Jeff Burton has finished in the top 10 in seven of his 14 starts with Richard Childress Racing at Phoenix.
• Matt Kenseth has posted an average finish of 8.3 in his last three starts at Phoenix.
• AJ Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard each ranked in the top 10 in testing speeds at Phoenix.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 10th in the spring at Phoenix, is coming off consecutive top 10s on the season for the first time since June.
• Kyle Busch has posted a 9.4 average finish in the nine races with the COT at Phoenix.

Phoenix Qualifying Facts 

*Active Pole Leaders
Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Ryan Newman - 4
1. Jeff Gordon - 9.9
Pole - Four times
2. Jeff Gordon - 3
2. Carl Edwards - 11.0
Top Five - 11 times
Carl Edwards - 3
3. Martin Truex Jr. - 11.5
Top 10 - 15 times
3. Seven drivers with one
4. Denny Hamlin - 11.9
Top 15 - 24 times
5. Ryan Newman - 11.9
Worst - 29th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Kobalt Tools 500.

*Best Average Finish at Phoenix  

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Ryan Newman
3.5
Four Races
Jimmie Johnson
3.0
Six Races
Jimmie Johnson
2.8
Eight Races
Jimmie Johnson
2.4
10 Races
Jimmie Johnson
2.5

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Phoenix Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2011) 

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson - 5.4
2. Kurt Busch
2. Mark Martin
2. Jeff Gordon - 9.7
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Denny Hamlin
3. Kurt Busch - 9.9
4. Kevin Harvick
4. Tony Stewart
4. Tony Stewart - 10.4
5. Carl Edwards
5. Carl Edwards
5. Kyle Busch - 10.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 3918
1. Kyle Busch - 387
1. Jimmie Johnson - 121.8
2. Kyle Busch - 3518
2. Ryan Newman - 359
2. Jeff Gordon - 103.3
3. Jeff Gordon - 3421
3. Jimmie Johnson - 339
3. Kurt Busch - 100.3
4. Tony Stewart - 3122
4. Tony Stewart - 336
4. Carl Edwards - 99.6
5. Ryan Newman - 2986
5. Jeff Burton - 309
5. Mark Martin - 99.4

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Phoenix view the Kobalt Tools 500 pre-race ebook.

Season Loop Data Leaders  

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Kyle Busch
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Kyle Busch - 10.0
2. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch 
2. Jimmie Johnson - 11.6
3. Carl Edwards
3. Carl Edwards
3. Matt Kenseth - 12.0
4. Kurt Busch 
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Kurt Busch - 12.4
5. Jeff Gordon
5. Tony Stewart
5. Carl Edwards - 12.6
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Kyle Busch - 7905
1. Kyle Busch - 2137
1. Kyle Busch - 106.1
2. Jimmie Johnson - 7449
2. Kurt Busch - 2076
2. Jimmie Johnson - 100.4
3. Carl Edwards - 7369
3. Clint Bowyer - 2059
3. Carl Edwards - 99.1
4. Matt Kenseth - 7120
4. Paul Menard - 1936
4. Matt Kenseth - 98.8
5. Kevin Harvick - 7059
5. Matt Kenseth - 1859
5. Jeff Gordon - 97.1

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Tony Stewart
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Craig Moore: AJ Allmendinger
Steve Blevins: Greg Biffle
John Singler: Jeff Burton
Ricky Hamber: Jimmie Johnson

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Phoenix unless noted)

1. Carl Edwards: Defending race winner after leading 93 laps from the pole; Won third pole in the spring and led 21 laps up until an incident with Kyle Busch on lap 60; Has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven starts; 13.0 average finish in 14 starts; Fourth-best driver rating in last 13 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 782) that he finished eighth with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

2. Tony Stewart: Coming off first top 10 (seventh) in last four starts; 11.7 average finish in 19 starts; Won in his first track start in 1999 with Joe Gibbs Racing; Led testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.762 mph.

3. Kevin Harvick: Coming off eighth top 10 (fourth) in 17 starts; Fourth in average finish (12.0) and second in laps led (307) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Third in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.258 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 353) that he last finished 10th with at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October.

4. Matt Kenseth: Seventh-place finish in this event last year is eighth top 10 in 18 starts; Winner of the 2002 race; 10th in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 135.461 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 751) that he last finished sixth with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

5. Brad Keselowski: Coming off best finish (15th) in four starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 801) in the Kobalt Tools 500.

6. Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers with a 2.5 average finish and 791 laps led in the last 10 races; Second in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 137.736 mph; Best driver rating in past 13 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 18th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Coming off third top 10 in seven starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 16.4 average finish with HMS; Won the 2003 and 2004 race with Dale Earnhardt, Inc; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 694) that he finished 17th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and tested at Phoenix.

8. Jeff Gordon: Coming off second win in 25 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (11.7) and third in laps led (269) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Second-best driver rating in the past 13 races.

9. Kurt Busch: Coming off sixth top 10 in 11 starts with Penske Racing; Won the 2005 spring race with Roush Racing; Has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six starts; Fifth in laps led (243) among all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races; Third-best driver rating in last 13 races; Will race the same car (chassis No. 748) that his teammate Brad Keselowski last drove to a 20th-place finish at Dover International Speedway.

10. Denny Hamlin: 11.6 average finish in 12 starts: Last of six top 10s (third) came in this event in 2009; Second in average finish (9.2) that have competed in the last 10 races.

11. Kyle Busch: Coming off eighth top 10 (second) in 13 starts; Won this event in 2005 with Hendrick Motorsports; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (12.3) that have competed in the last 10 races.

12. Ryan Newman: Has finished in the top five in last three starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race; 19.3 average finish in 18 starts.

13. Clint Bowyer: Last of four top 10s in 12 starts came in the 2010 spring race in seventh; 16.4 average finish in 12 starts; Has yet to lead a lap in last 10 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 365) that he last finished 22nd with at Richmond International Raceway in September.

14. Kasey Kahne: 18.0 average finish in two starts with Team Red Bull; Coming off fourth top 10 (sixth) in 14 starts; 20.4 average finish.

15. Greg Biffle: Fourth-place finish in this event last year was fifth top 10 in 15 starts; 14.9 average finish.

16. AJ Allmendinger: Coming off first top 10 in six starts; Won the pole for the 2010 spring race; Fifth in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 136.835 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 736) that he tested at Phoenix.

17. Marcos Ambrose: 15.3 average finish in six starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 653) that he tested at Phoenix last month.

18. David Ragan: Only top 10 (eighth) came in this event in 2008; 26.1 average finish in nine starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 759) that he last finished seventh with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.

19. Juan Pablo Montoya: Last of two top 10s in nine starts came in the 2010 spring race in fifth; 17.2 average finish; Seventh in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 136.090 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1109) that he last finished 15th with at Richmond International Raceway.

20. Paul Menard: Has yet to finish in the top 15 in nine starts; Ninth in testing on the new configuration with a lap of 135.506 mph; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he last finished 22nd with at Darlington Raceway.

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