Driver Handicaps: Phoenix

Kasey Kahne

Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won seven of the last 10 races at Phoenix. Can Kasey Kahne, who won last fall with Team Red Bull, become the next? (Photo: Getty Images)

 Driver Averages | Loop Data eBookDriver RatingsPast Winners

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 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 (5.4).
• Kasey Kahne won the first race on the track's new configuration for his second consecutive top 10.
• Defending event winner Jeff Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 18 of his 26 starts. 
• Carl Edwards has one win, a second-place finish and has combined to lead 141 laps in his last three starts.
• Tony Stewart led the most laps (160) in the first race on the track's new configuration en route to his second consecutive top 10.
• Mark Martin has posted five finishes of eighth or better, including one win, in his last eight starts.
• Denny Hamlin is fifth among all drivers in average finish (11.6) at Phoenix.
• Ryan Newman has finished in the top five in his last four starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.

Keep an Eye On at Phoenix 
• AJ Allmendinger, who will make his track debut with Penske Racing, has finished in the top 10 in his last two starts at Phoenix.
• Kurt Busch, who will make his track debut with Phoenix Racing, has posted five top 10s and led 300 laps in the last six races at PIR.
• Kevin Harvick, who swept both races in 2006, has a 10.5 average finish in his last four starts at PIR.
• 2012 Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth won the pole and led 49 laps at PIR last fall. The last time he won the '500' he went on to win the second race of the season.
• Greg Biffle, who looks to continue his strong start in 2012, participated in a brake test at Orlando Speedway last week to try and overcome the issues they experienced at PIR last year.
• Jeff Burton is coming off his eighth top 10 in 15 starts with Richard Childress Racing at PIR.
• Kyle Busch finished second in this event last year for his eighth top 10 in 14 starts at Phoenix.
• Clint Bowyer, who will make track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing, finished 10th last fall for this third top 10 in his last five starts.

Note: Five of the last six races at Phoenix have seen drivers break long winless streaks. The most recent was Kasey Kahne, who snapped an 81-race winless drought. Martin Truex Jr. (168) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (130) are two notable drivers heading into Phoenix that have yet to reach Victory Lane in quite some time.

Phoenix Qualifying Facts 

*Active Pole Leaders
Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Ryan Newman - 4
1. Jeff Gordon - 10.4
Pole - Four times
2. Jeff Gordon - 3
2. AJ Allmendinger - 10.6
Top Five - 11 times
Carl Edwards - 3
3. Carl Edwards - 10.9
Top 10 - 16 times
3. Eight drivers with one
4. Martin Truex Jr. - 10.9
Top 15 - 25 times
5. Mark Martin - 12.4
Worst - 29th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

*Best Average Finish at Phoenix  

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Kasey Kahne
3.5
Four Races
Ryan Newman
3.2
Six Races
Jimmie Johnson
5.0
Eight Races
Jimmie Johnson
4.0
10 Races
Jimmie Johnson
3.7

* - 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 - 6.3
2. Kurt Busch
2. Tony Stewart
2. Kurt Busch - 9.8
3. Carl Edwards
3. Mark Martin
3. Tony Stewart - 9.8
4. Kevin Harvick
4. Carl Edwards
4. Jeff Gordon - 10.7
5. Tony Stewart
5. Denny Hamlin
5. Kyle Busch - 11.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 3994
1. Kyle Busch - 400
1. Jimmie Johnson - 118.2
2. Kyle Busch - 3601
2. Ryan Newman - 391
2. Carl Edwards - 101.3
3. Jeff Gordon - 3494
3. Jimmie Johnson - 358
3. Tony Stewart - 100.9
4. Tony Stewart - 3434
4. Jeff Burton - 357
4. Kurt Busch - 100.4
5. Kyle Busch - 3211
5. Tony Stewart - 356
5. Jeff Gordon - 99.8

*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 Subway Fresh Fit 500 pre-race ebook.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Carl Edwards
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Craig Moore: AJ Allmendinger
John Singler: Jimmie Johnson

Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Phoenix unless noted)

Matt Kenseth: Won the pole and led 49 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Finished 34th in that event after a crash took him out of contention; Last of eight top 10s came in the 2010 fall race in seventh.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Scored third top 10 in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports last year in this event; Fifth among all drivers in laps led (460); Won the 2003 and 2004 races with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

Greg Biffle: Last of five top 10s in 16 starts came in the 2010 fall race in 10th; Had brake issues last year at Phoenix so the team did a brake test at Orlando Speedway last week; 10th-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 778) that he last finished third with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin: Finished 11th and 12th, respectively, last year; Scored four straight finishes of sixth or better from 2008 to 2009; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (11.6); Seventh-best driver rating in the last 14 races.

Jeff Burton: Finished fourth last fall for seventh top five in 25 starts; Eight top 10s in 15 starts with Richard Childress Racing; Won the 2000 and 2001 races with Roush Racing; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 382) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Paul Menard: Coming off first top 10 (ninth) in 10 starts; 13.0 average finish in two starts with Richard Childress Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 328) that he raced at Phoenix last fall.

Kevin Harvick: Finished fourth in this event last year for eighth top 10 in 18 starts; Swept both races in 2006; Finished 19th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Ninth-best driver rating in the past 14 races; Will pilot the same car (chassis 365) that Clint Bowyer drove to a 10th-place finish last fall at Phoenix.

Carl Edwards: Finished second and led 27 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Finish was 10th top 10 in 15 starts; Has combined to lead 141 laps in last three races; Second-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 801) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Joey Logano: 16.5 average finish in six starts; Best finish (third) came in the 2010 fall race; Has yet to lead a lap; Will return in the same car that the team utilized at Phoenix last season (finished 33rd and 11th).

Mark Martin: Making track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing; Scored second win in 30 starts in this event in 2009; Four of his 19 top 10s have come in his last six starts; Second among all drivers in average finish (9.0); Sixth-best driver rating in the last 14 races.

Clint Bowyer: Making track debut with Michael Waltrip Racing; Scored five top 10s in 13 starts with Richard Childress Racing; Finished 10th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 712) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Martin Truex Jr: 16.5 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Last of four top 10s came from the pole in the 2009 fall race with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Finished 20th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration.

Marcos Ambrose: Coming off first top 10 (eighth) in seven starts; 14.3 average finish.

Bobby Labonte: 21.0 average finish in two starts with JTG-Daugherty Racing; Last of nine top 10s came in the 2007 spring race.

Dave Blaney: 35.3 average finish in three starts with Tommy Baldwin Racing; Last of two top 10s came in 2002.

Tony Stewart: Finished third and led the most laps (160) last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Fourth among all drivers in average finish (11.3); Third-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 637) that he won with at New Hampshire and ran at Phoenix last fall.

Kyle Busch: 13.3 average finish in eight starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Won the 2005 fall race with Hendrick Motorsports; Eighth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 326) that he finished 36th with last fall at Phoenix after the engine expired.

Ryan Newman: Has finished fifth or better in the last four races; Won this event in 2010; will return in the same car (chassis No. 691) that he finished fifth with at Phoenix last fall.

Kasey Kahne: Won the first race on the new track configuration last fall; Win was second straight top 10; Five top 10s in 15 starts; Making track debut with Hendrick Motorsports.

Jamie McMurray: Last of two top 10s came in the 2010 fall race in 10th; Best finish (third) came in the 2008 fall race with Roush Racing; Will debut a new chassis (No. 1206) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Brad Keselowski: Best finish (15th) in five starts came in this event last year; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 25.6) in the Sunway Fresh Fit 500.

AJ Allmendinger: Coming off best finish (sixth), and second consecutive top 10, in seven starts; Making track debut with Penske Racing.

Juan Pablo Montoya: 17.0 average finish in 10 starts; Best finish came in this event in 2010 when he led 104 laps en route to a fifth-place finish; Finished 15th last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1203) in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Kurt Busch: Finished 22nd and led 57 laps last fall in the first race on the new track configuration; Third among all drivers in laps led (748); Fourth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Making track debut with Phoenix Racing; Will race the same car (chassis No. 662) that Landon Cassill finished 29th with last fall at Phoenix.

Jeff Gordon: Defending race winner; Win was second, and 18th top 10, in 26 starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (10.9); Fifth-best driver rating in the last 14 races; Finished 32nd last fall in the first race on the new track configuration.

Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers in average finish (5.4) and laps led (876); Best driver rating in the last 14 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 14th win last fall at Phoenix.

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