Driver Handicaps: Phoenix
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 8, 2012 | 2:00 P.M. EST
Denny Hamlin won the spring event at Phoenix, with Kevin Harvick behind in second. (Photo: Getty Images)
MotorRacingNetwork.com’s Pete Pistone takes a look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix Int'l Raceway:
Who's HOT at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson: A four-time Phoenix winner, Johnson looks to add to his Sprint Cup Series advantage with another good finish to improve his 5.3 average at PIR.
Kasey Kahne: Won last year's first Sprint Cup Series race on the new Phoenix reconfiguration and was strong again in the spring at the track.
Jeff Gordon: Has three career Phoenix wins to his credit and, although doesn't have the finishes to show for the effort, has been running well again in the late going of the Chase schedule.
Denny Hamlin: Flat-track specialist has had an up-and-down career at Phoenix with a 10.8 average finish over his last 15 starts at the track, but his dominating New Hampshire win earlier in the Chase should bode well for Hamlin at the similar layout in Arizona.
Kevin Harvick: At one time owned Phoenix and has a pair of Sprint Cup wins on his resume. Harvick turned a lot of laps around Phoenix in a variety of machines prior to last year's reconfiguration.
Brad Keselowski: The number two man in the Chase comes to another track where his past record is not that impressive. In six career PIR starts, the Penske Racing driver has a 22.2 average finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Has won at Phoenix twice but that was an eternity ago in the DEI days. Has struggled more often than not in recent years and has an 18.1 average finish coming into the weekend.
Martin Truex Jr.: As his fade during the Chase continues, Truex Jr. will have a challenge on his hand to turn the tide at Phoenix this weekend. Hasn't fared particularly well in 13 career starts with one top-five finish.
Paul Menard: Had a rough outing in Texas and now must take on Phoenix where, in 11 career starts, he has a 23.7 average finish.
Aric Almirola: Trying to end the year on an positive note for the Richard Petty Motorsports team, but has to improve on a 21.7 average Phoenix Int'l Raceway finish.
Keep an Eye On at Phoenix
Ryan Newman: A former Phoenix winner, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver has competed at Phoenix in several varieties of cars including open wheel as well as stock cars.
Regan Smith: Returns to the Phoenix Racing team this week and the No. 51 Chevrolet and will finish out the season before moving full-time to JR Motorsports' Nationwide Series program in 2013.
Mark Martin: Looking for a third Phoenix win Sunday as he winds down a very successful first season at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Kyle Busch: Finished third at Texas last week behind Johnson and Keselowski and continues to be the most impressive of the non-Chasers. Does have a Phoenix win to his credit.
Clint Bowyer: Still clinging to his outside championship hopes, Bowyer's best Phoenix finish is second in 14 career starts.