News & Media


Numbers: Starting up front key to recent Phoenix success

March 02, 2012, , NASCAR.com

For Starters

15 -- $15 million of the $100 million long-term development for PIR was for reconfiguring and repaving the track and building a new media center. Among the changes to the track, in place for the Nov. 2011 race, included widening the frontstretch from 52 to 62 feet; moving the dogleg out by 95 feet, as well as tightening the radius of the dogleg from 800 to 500 feet; and adding progressing banking in the corners and dogleg (10-11 degrees in Turns 1 and 2 and 8-9 degrees in Turns 3 and 4).


Sam Hornish Jr. is one of nine drivers who made their first series start at Phoenix; he finished 36th in Nov. 2006. In Nov. 2011, Hornish became the first driver to win his first series race at PIR.


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NATIONWIDE SERIES

Track Tidbits

2 -- Two drivers have been the dominant forces at Phoenix: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Busch is tied with Carl Edwards for the most wins (4), and leads all drivers in poles (4), laps led (793) and has the track qualifying record (134.298 mph, 26.806 seconds) in Feb. 2011. Harvick has the most starts (18), top-fives (14), top-10s (15) and lead-lap finishes (16).

61 -- Sam Hornish Jr. led 61 laps in the Nov. 2011 race at Phoenix, ending a 10-race streak of the winner leading the most laps. Only three drivers led in that race: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (73, finished fifth) and pole-sitter Aric Almirola (66, finished 25th with a crash DNF). The race winner has led more than 100 laps 14 times.

200 -- Kyle Busch led 200 laps in last February's race, becoming the ninth driver to lead every lap in a Nationwide Series race. In all, the feat has been accomplished 17 times in series history -- Sam Ard and Tommy Ellis are the only drivers to do it more than once -- but first since Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona in July 2003.

Recent Trends

7 -- Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing have combined to win seven of the past eight races (broken in Nov. 2011 by Penske Racing and Sam Hornish Jr.); win the pole in seven of the past eight races (broken in Nov. 2011 by JR Motorsports and Aric Almirola); and lead 83 percent of the laps in the past eight races. Kyle Busch (six starts for Gibbs) and Carl Edwards (eight starts for Roush) each accounted for three wins and two poles during that span, and combined to lead 934 of 1,606 laps. Busch is driving for his own team in this race; Edwards is not entered.

7 -- Seven of the 20 races at Phoenix have ended with a green-white-checkered finish, the most of all tracks. The last green-flag stretch has been less than 20 laps in nine of the past 12 races and the average green stretch has been 24 laps or less in 15 races.

11 -- The past 11 Phoenix races were won from a top-five starting position, including eight from the front row. Sixteen races have been won from the first two rows, including four from the pole: Carl Edwards (Nov. 2005); Matt Kenseth (Nov. 2006); Kyle Busch (April 2008, Feb. 2011).


Five of the past six Phoenix winners broke winless streaks of 66 races or more, including the past four: Ryan Newman (77 races) in April 2010; Carl Edwards (70) in Nov. 2010; Jeff Gordon (66) in Feb. 2011; Kasey Kahne (81) in Nov. 2011. Mark Martin ended a 97-race drought with his victory in April 2009.


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SPRINT CUP SERIES

Track Tidbits

3 -- The final green-flag stretch has been more than 70 laps in three of the past five Phoenix races.

4 -- Four drivers posted top-10 finishes in both Phoenix races in 2011: A.J. Allmendinger (9th, 6th); Kasey Kahne (6th, 1st); Ryan Newman (5th in both races); Tony Stewart (7th, 3rd). Kahne is the only drive who started and finished in the top 10 in both races.

4 -- Phoenix has been won from the pole four times, all in the past 10 races and three in the past seven. However, the pole winners in 2011 (Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth) finished 28th and 34th, respectively. Still, nine of the past 11 races were won from a top-10 start; all but the past two spring races (Ryan Newman started 14th in 2010 and Jeff Gordon started 20th in 2011). Newman is the only winner in 31 races who has led fewer than 10 laps; he led four.

Recent Trends

7 -- Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won seven of the past 10 races at Phoenix: Jimmie Johnson (4), Jeff Gordon (2) and Mark Martin (1). Hendrick Motorsports has 199 career wins in the Cup Series.

14 -- Jimmie Johnson finished 14th in the Nov. 2011 race at Phoenix, the first on the new configuration. He never finished outside the top seven in the prior 12 races. In addition, Jeff Gordon finished 32nd on the new layout; he had finished 11th or better in the previous four races.

193,500 -- Not including the post-Daytona 500 penalty, Chad Knaus has been fined $193,500 from seven previous incidents and suspended for a total of 10 races. Knaus is facing a $100,000 fine and a six-race suspension for his latest violation (pending appeal), his first since 2007.

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