Driver Handicaps: Phoenix

Phoenix

Sunday's race will mark the sixth on Phoenix's new track configuration and the second with the Gen-6 car there. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages Loop Data (pdf)Driver Ratings Past Winners 

To assist in making your fantasy racing picks, MRN.com's Jeff Wackerlin breaks down all the stats and information to help steer you toward Sunday's "The Profit" on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Who's HOT at Phoenix
• Defending race winner Carl Edwards has led the most laps (158) in the two races with the Gen-6
car.
• Kevin Harvick, who will make his first Phoenix start with Stewart-Haas Racing, has posted the
best average finish (7.2) in the five races on the current track configuration, including wins
in the last two fall events.
• Denny Hamlin has finished in the top three in three of his last four starts, including a win
in the 2012 spring race.
• Jimmie Johnson, who has four wins on the old track configuration, has the best average finish (2.5) in the two races with the Gen-6 car.
• Brad Keselowski has posted a 6.5 average finish in the last four races.
• Kyle Busch leads all drivers in laps led (289) over the last five races.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Phoenix
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in the top five in both Phoenix races with the Gen-6 car last season.
• Greg Biffle (10.6) and Kasey Kahne (12.0) each rank in the top 10 in average finish among drivers that have competed in all five races on Phoenix's new track configuration. 
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has posted a 14.0 average finish in two starts at Phoenix and now is back with crew chief Mike Kelley who led him to five consecutive top-10s at PIR in the Nationwide Series.
• Ryan Newman, who will be making his first Phoenix start with Richard Childress Racing, has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts there.
• Jeff Gordon has posted a 5.0 average finish in the last four March races at Phoenix, including a win in the last race on the old configuration in 2011.
• Matt Kenseth finished seventh in this event last season - his first Phoenix start with Joe Gibbs Racing.
• Tony Stewart has posted a 13.0 average finish in four of the five races on Phoenix's new configuration. Stewart's new crew chief, Chad Johnston, helped lead Martin Truex Jr. - who will make his first Phoenix start with Furniture Row Racing - to two top-10s in four starts there with Michael Waltrip Racing.
• Kurt Busch, who will make his first Phoenix start with Stewart-Haas Racing, has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three starts.

Tire Notes: Teams will be running the same combination of left- and right-side tires they ran at Phoenix last November.  Kevin Harvick won that race, driving for Richard Childress Racing, after leading a race-high 70 laps.

Be sure to check back with MRN.com for practice speeds on Friday and Saturday.

Phoenix Qualifying Facts (Note: This will be the first 'knockout' qualifying session)

Johnson, Kenseth, Gordon and Kyle Busch were the only drivers that placed in the top 10 in the 1st practice session in both races at Phoenix last season.  Busch posted the best average position (2.5) in the two practices with Johnson (3.5), Kenseth (4.0), Hamlin (6.5) and Gordon (9.0) rounding out the top five.

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
Ryan Newman - 4
Jeff Gordon - 10.7
Pole - 4 times
Carl Edwards - 3
Kasey Kahne - 11.3
Top Five - 11 times
Jeff Gordon - 3
Martin Truex Jr. - 11.4
Top 10 - 17 times
Jimmie Johnson -2 Denny Hamlin - 11.9
Top 15 - 28 times
Kyle Busch - 2 Jimmie Johnson - 12.0
Worst - 29th, one time

* - Must be entered in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

*Best Average Finish at Phoenix

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Jimmie Johnson
2.5
Four Races
Kevin Harvick
4.2
Six Races
Kevin Harvick
6.7
Eight Races
Kevin Harvick
7.4
10 Races
Jimmie Johnson
7.1

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

Phoenix 'New' Track Performers (5 Races on PIR's new configuration)

Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
Kevin Harvick - 2
Kevin Harvick - 3
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin - 1
Denny Hamlin - 3
Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson
Kasey Kahne - 1
Jimmie Johnson - 3
Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman
Carl Edwards - 1
Kasey Kahne - 3
Brad Keselowski - 3
Laps Led
Average Finish
Poles
Kyle Busch - 289
Kevin Harvick - 7.2
Kyle Busch - 1
Carl Edwards - 185
Brad Keselowski - 8.8
Jimmie Johnson - 1
Kevin Harvick - 173
Denny Hamlin - 9.2
Matt Kenseth - 1
Tony Stewart - 169
Carl Edwards - 10.4
Denny Hamlin - 125
Greg Biffle - 10.6

Phoenix Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2013, 18 Races)*

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson - 6.9
2. Kurt Busch
2. Tony Stewart
2. Tony Stewart - 10.2
3. Kevin Harvick
3. Denny Hamlin
3. Jeff Gordon - 10.5
4. Tony Stewart
4. Carl Edwards
4. Kurt Busch - 10.6
5. Carl Edwards
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
5. Kevin Harvick - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jimmie Johnson - 5009
1. Kyle Busch - 527
1. Jimmie Johnson - 116.7
2. Jeff Gordon - 4563
2. Jimmie Johnson - 498
2. Kevin Harvick - 101.3
3. Kyle Busch - 4505
3. Ryan Newman - 487
3. Carl Edwards - 100.0
4. Kevin Harvick - 4334 
4. Tony Stewart - 440
4. Jeff Gordon - 99.4
5. Tony Stewart - 4146
5. Kevin Harvick - 418
5. Tony Stewart - 99.2

*Must be entered in the "The Profit" on CNBC 500.
*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during 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 "The Profit" on CNBC 500 Pre-Race Loop Data Book (pdf)

MRN.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Denny Hamlin
Pete Pistone: Denny Hamlin
Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne
John Singler: Carl Edwards

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

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Second-best average finish (4.5) and 49 laps led in the two races with the Gen-6 car; 13.6 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration; Last of two wins came 10 years ago ... Coming off his first Daytona 500 win in 10 years.

Denny Hamlin: 15.5 average finish and 18 laps led in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Third-best average finish (9.2) in the five races on the current track configuration; Winner of this event in 2012.

Brad Keselowski: Fourth-best average finish (7.5) and 43 laps led in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Second-best average finish (8.8) in the five races on the current track configuration; Has finished sixth or better in three of the last four races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 853) in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

Jeff Gordon: 18.6 average finish and 49 laps led in the five races on the current track configuration; Last of two wins came in the last race on the old track configuration, which was this event in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 816) that he last led 49 laps en route to a 14th-place finish at Phoenix last fall.

Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers with a 2.5 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Sixth-best average finish (11.0) in the five races on the current track configuration; Four-time winner on the old track configuration; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 806) he raced last fall at Phoenix.

Matt Kenseth: 15.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car - first track starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Finished seventh in this event last year; 18.2 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 14.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Coming off best finish in two starts in 12th; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 877) - that was tested at Nashville - in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

Greg Biffle: 15.0 average finish and 40 laps led in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Led 39 laps and finished 17th in this event last year; Fifth-best average finish (10.6) in the five races on the current track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 876) this weekend.

Austin Dillon: Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 430) in his first Cup Series track start that Kevin Harvick drove to Victory Lane at Phoenix last fall; Finished sixth or better in his last four Nationwide starts at Phoenix.

Casey Mears: 20.5 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Best finish in the five races on the current track configuration came in this event last year, 14th place.

Joey Logano: Led 33 laps and finished ninth last fall in second track start with Penske Racing; 16.6 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 866) in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

Kevin Harvick: Third-best average finish (7.0) and 70 laps led in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Leads all drivers in wins (2) and average finish (7.2) in the five races on the current track configuration; Coming off second win in the last three races; Will make track debut with Stewart-Haas Racing in a new car (chassis No. 482).

Jamie McMurray: 20.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Last of two top 10s (10th) in 21 starts came on the old track configuration in the 2010 fall race.

Bobby Labonte: Will not race this weekend; As of now, Daytona was part of a limited schedule for Labonte and team owner James Finch; the No. 52 Chevrolet will not be on the track at Phoenix.

Reed Sorenson: 27.9 average finish in nine starts; Best finish came in the spring event in 2009 driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Carl Edwards: Defending race winner; 11.0 average finish and leads all drivers in laps led (158) in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Fourth-best average finish (10.4) in the five races on the current track configuration; Also won on the old configuration in the 2010 fall race; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 874) in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

Marcos Ambrose: 22.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; 20.4 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration; Only top 10 (eighth) in 11 starts came in the 2011 fall race.

Kyle Busch: 15.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; 15.0 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration; Has finished seventh or better on three of the last four races; Won the 2005 fall race driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

Terry Labonte: Will not race this weekend; Travis Kvapil will be driving the No. 32 Ford.

Kurt Busch: Coming off second top 10 in the last three races; 16.0 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; 15.4 average finish in the five races on the current track configuration; Will make his track debut with Stewart-Haas Racing driving the same car (chassis No. 826) that Ryan Newman drove to a 10th-place finish last November at Phoenix.

Notables Outside the Top 20

Ryan Newman: Winner of this event in 2010; Has finished in the top 10 in six of his last eight starts; Will make first track start with Richard Childress Racing in a new car (chassis No. 441).

Kasey Kahne: Won the 2011 fall race with Red Bull Racing; 14.8 average finish in four starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 10.5 average finish in the two races with the Gen-6 car; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 815) that he led 41 laps and finished second with last fall at Phoenix.

Tony Stewart: Finished eighth in this event last year for his fourth top 10 in nine track starts with Stewart-Haas racing; Missed the fall race due to injury; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 840) in "The Profit" on CNBC 500.

Clint Bowyer: Finished sixth in this event last year for first top 10 in four track starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 798) in Sunday's race.

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Untitled Document Phoenix Driver Stats

Untitled Document
Driver Races Avg Start Avg Finish Driver Rating
Jimmie Johnson 21 12.0 6.3 116.7
Kevin Harvick 22 18.0 12.3 101.3
Carl Edwards 19 12.5 12.3 100.0
Jeff Gordon 30 10.7 11.5 99.4
Tony Stewart 23 13.0 12.0 99.2
Denny Hamlin 17 11.9 10.9 98.2
Kurt Busch 22 13.4 13.5 98.0
Kyle Busch 18 12.6 13.5 97.4
Greg Biffle 20 14.6 13.9 91.6
Ryan Newman 23 12.6 18.7 87.1
Matt Kenseth 23 19.9 17.4 86.1
Brad Keselowski 9 18.2 17.1 85.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 23 17.5 17.0 84.0
Martin Truex Jr. 16 11.4 17.8 83.9
A J Allmendinger 9 12.4 15.7 82.1
Clint Bowyer 17 18.1 17.1 81.2
Kasey Kahne 19 11.3 18.2 80.0
Joey Logano 10 16.4 17.1 79.7
Marcos Ambrose 11 17.3 17.6 76.5
Jamie McMurray 21 17.4 21.7 73.3
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 19.5 14.0 72.9
Aric Almirola 6 16.5 19.2 71.9
Brian Vickers 14 14.6 22.9 70.1
Paul Menard 14 18.1 21.9 65.1
Casey Mears 19 23.5 26.2 61.1
Reed Sorenson 9 27.3 27.9 56.1
David Ragan 14 25.6 28.5 53.1
Cole Whitt 2 24.0 32.5 48.8
David Gilliland 15 33.0 29.3 48.4
Justin Allgaier 1 25.0 31.0 47.9
Dave Blaney 22 25.9 28.6 46.8
Travis Kvapil 14 35.4 28.9 46.7
Danica Patrick 3 36.3 29.7 45.1
Joe Nemechek 27 25.4 29.3 42.2
Landon Cassill 7 32.0 34.4 39.5
Michael McDowell 8 31.5 39.0 35.2
Josh Wise 4 33.8 36.5 33.9
Michael Annett 0 - - -
Alex Bowman 0 - - -
Austin Dillon 0 - - -
Parker Kligerman 0 - - -
Blake Koch 0 - - -
Kyle Larson 0 - - -
Brian Scott 0 - - -
Morgan Shepherd 9 22.3 16.8 -
Ryan Truex 0 - - -
Phoenix Green Flag Passes

Number of passes a driver had under green conditions in the last 18 races at Phoenix.

Rank Driver Green Flag Passes
1 Bobby Labonte 893
2 Jamie McMurray 816
3 Kyle Busch 794
3 Casey Mears 794
5 Greg Biffle 793
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 791
7 Matt Kenseth 789
8 Ryan Newman 768
9 Clint Bowyer 744
10 Kevin Harvick 743
11 Jimmie Johnson 722
12 Tony Stewart 716
13 Jeff Gordon 713
14 Denny Hamlin 681
15 Kurt Busch 672
16 Paul Menard 654
17 Carl Edwards 647
18 Kasey Kahne 641
19 Marcos Ambrose 628
20 Martin Truex Jr. 623
21 David Gilliland 561
22 Dave Blaney 558
23 David Ragan 549
24 Travis Kvapil 496
25 Joey Logano 481
26 A J Allmendinger 465
27 Brad Keselowski 454
28 Brian Vickers 378
29 Reed Sorenson 344
30 Aric Almirola 340
31 Michael Waltrip 330
32 Joe Nemechek 308
33 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 145
34 Michael McDowell 124
35 Landon Cassill 109
36 Danica Patrick 98
37 Cole Whitt 62
38 Justin Allgaier 41
39 Josh Wise 39
40 Trevor Bayne 16
41 Terry Labonte 3
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