After a race at Texas that had it all - close racing, hot tempers, wild crashes and, in particular, an awesome
finish - the NEXTEL Cup Series moves on to the Valley of the Sun and the eight race of the season, staged at Phoenix International Raceway.
The 2006 event was largely dominated by Roush Racing, with Greg Biffle and Mark Martin making things look easy by leading 262 of the 312 laps that made up the race. Unfortunately things aren't always as easy as they look, something Martin and Biffle had to learn the hard way after Martin got involved in a 7-car crash and Biffle lost the lead to Kevin Harvick with 10 laps to go (and then ran out of gas with just two to go). Harvick, who claimed his first victory of the season, made it a weekend sweep as he had also won the Busch Series race the day before. Tony Stewart made an impressive run up through the field for the second straight race to finish second, after a problem with a tire just before the start of the race forced him to start dead last. Matt Kenseth come home in third after a rather unspectacular day which saw him lead just one single lap.
Seven cautions, including a red flag for the second straight race due to a six-car crash, slowed the race, while there were 20 lead changes among 11 different drivers. Matt Kenseth left Phoenix as the points leader, taking over the top spot from Jimmie Johnson. Kasey Kahne moved up a spot to third at the expense of Mark Martin while Tony Stewart remained in fifth.
1 mile oval, 11 degrees of banking in turns 1-2, 9 degrees of banking in turns 3-4 and 0 degrees of banking on the straightaways. Roughly 76,000 grandstand seats.
NEXTEL Cup Qualifying Record:
135.854 mph, by Ryan Newman on November 5th, 2004.
NEXTEL Cup Race Record:
118.132 mph (2 hours, 38 minutes, 28 seconds) set by Tony Stewart on November 7th, 1999.
Phoenix is one of only three tracks Jeff Gordon has yet to win a race at. He also has yet to win a race at Texas and Homestead.
This will be the 22nd race at Phoenix since 1988. Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick are the winningest drivers, with two victories a piece. Interestingly all four drivers collected their two victories back to back.
The furthest down anyone has won from is the 29th starting spot. Ricky Rudd did that in 1995. No one has managed to win a race at Phoenix from the pole.
There are 50 cars going for 43 spots. NASCAR.com has the entry list
NASCAR.com has Kevin Lepage listed in the #37, while Jayski has John Andretti in the same car. Should be cleared up within the next few days.
Brandon Ash will be looking at qualifying for his first race of the season, as will Kevin Lepage if he indeed is the one set to drive the #37.
It will be the first race driving the Car of Tomorrow for Mark Martin.
This is the third race of the 2007 season where this years' owners points determines who is locked into the top 35 in qualifying. There were no changes in the points standings around the 35th spot after the race at Texas.
David Reutimann, Brandon Ash, Ward Burton, Scott Riggs, Paul Menard, Ken Schrader, Dave Blaney, Jeremy Mayfield, Kevin Lepage/John Andretti, Mike Bliss, Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger will all have to qualify on speed to get into the race. Dale Jarrett has a Champions' Provisional available and get into the race regardless of how he does in qualifying.
This is the third race using the Car of Tomorrow
For more information and images of the CoT I recommend you visit Jayski's site
about the CoT.
Pre-race show on FOX starts at 8:00pm ET, April 21st (please note that this is a Saturday
race). Green flag is scheduled for 8:30pm ET.
In Scandinavia the TV broadcast gets underway at 2:00 CET on Viasat Sport 3 during the night between Saturday and Sunday.
My pick for the win: