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Post Daytona 500 Driver Reports

February 24, 2013, NASCAR.com

Post Daytona 500 Driver Reports
This week's race: Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

1. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with 47 points.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Johnson stayed within striking distance all afternoon before passing last year’s champion Brad Keselowski in the final laps and held on for the win. Johnson led 17 laps and beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the start/finish line.
This week: In 19 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Johnson has four wins, 12 top fives, 15 top 10s and one pole. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Johnson ranks first out of 63 drivers with an average place of 7.1.
Last year: Johnson led at four different points, for a total of 55 laps, before being undone by a loose wheel. “Undone” is relative, of course. He finished fourth.
What he said: “There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500. I’m a very lucky man to have won it twice. I’m very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport.”

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet 

Where he stands: Earnhardt Jr. is second in the standings with 42 points. He is five points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of third-place Mark Martin.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Earnhardt -- who blew out an engine early in the week -- recovered to place second behind teammate Jimmie Johnson. Junior was outside of the top five with two laps to go before bolting toward the front.
This week: In 21 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Earnhardt has two wins, four top fives and eight top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Earnhardt ranks 20th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 17.7.
Last year: Starting 29th, Earnhardt found speed and steadily bettered his track position. He finished 14th, and was one of 17 drivers to finish on the lead lap. 
What he said: “The engine was great. The car was real fast. You had to be real patient and if you tried to pull out you would go to the back of the field.”

3. Mark Martin (No. 55)

Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota

Where he stands: Martin is third in the standings with 41 points. He is six points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and zero points ahead of fourth-place Brad Keselowski.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Martin was one of several Toyotas to run well. His car stayed intact throughout the race, enabling the 54-year-old to finish strong.
This week: In 32 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Martin has two wins, 12 top fives, 21 top 10s and two poles. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Martin ranks eighth out of 63 drivers with an average place of 11.8.
Last year: One of Martin’s two career poles at Phoenix came last season. Although the No. 55 driver lost the lead on the first lap and was in 15th place after 270 laps, he recovered to crack the top 10 with a ninth-place showing.
What he said: “I was in a position where I needed to pass a bunch of cars in order to get in contention to win. So we did that.”

4. Brad Keselowski (No. 2)

Penske Racing, Ford

Where he stands: Keselowski is fourth in the standings with 41 points. He is six points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of fifth-place Ryan Newman.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Keselowski was involved in an early accident, but got his car taped up in time to remain a threat. With his No. 2 Ford holding up beyond expectations, Keselowski led late before giving way to Jimmie Johnson.
This week: In seven career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Keselowski has one top five and two top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Keselowski ranks 21st out of 63 drivers with an average place of 18.5.
Last year: Keselowski’s best finish at Phoenix came last year despite starting 28th in the field. Thirty laps into the race, Keselowski had driven up to eighth place, and he stayed in the top 10 the rest of the day to finish fifth.
What he said: “We wrecked about three times today and still had a shot at the win and I took it, we just came up short.”

5. Ryan Newman (No. 39)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Newman is fifth in the standings with 40 points. He is seven points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and two points ahead of sixth-place Greg Biffle. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Newman led three laps and, after Stewart-Haas Chevrolets ran strong all during Speedweeks, finished fifth after starting 34th.
This week: In 21 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Newman has one win, eight top fives, eight top 10s and four poles. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Newman ranks 10th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 14.5.
Last year: Newman was all over the place, sinking to 26th place one-third of the way into the race after starting sixth. He rallied to get back into the top 10 late before ultimately finishing 21st.
What he said: “My best position all day was the last lap in fifth. I can’t say we are entirely satisfied with that, but after our day we’ll take that.”

6. Greg Biffle (No. 16)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford

Where he stands: Biffle is sixth in the standings with 38 points. He is nine points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of seventh-place Danica Patrick.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Biffle had one of the most consistent performances of the afternoon. Starting fifth, the No. 16 Ford stayed near the top all afternoon, running second for a long spell before finishing sixth.
This week: In 18 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Biffle has five top fives and seven top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Biffle ranks 11th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 14.9.
Last year: Biffle challenged for the lead for the last quarter of the race, but couldn’t unseat Kevin Harvick or eventual race winner Denny Hamlin. The No. 16 driver finished third.
What he said: “Our car was a good drafting car and the only thing I could do is stay in line.” 

7. Danica Patrick (No. 10)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet

Where she stands: Patrick is seventh in the standings with 37 points. She is 10 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and two points ahead of eighth-place Michael McDowell.
Last week: Before the season-opening Daytona 500, Patrick made history by being on the pole. She made history later in the race, too, by becoming the first woman to lead a non-caution lap when she took the lead near the halfway point and led for five laps. Patrick stayed in the top 10 for practically the entire race and was third entering the final lap before finishing eighth.
This week: In one career start at Phoenix International Raceway, Patrick finished 17th. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Patrick ranks 34th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 26.4.
Last year: Patrick did not run at Phoenix last year.
What she said: “It was calm most of the time, but it was fun when it got a little exciting.”

8. Michael McDowell (No. 98)

Phil Parsons Racing, Ford

Where he stands: McDowell is eighth in the standings with 35 points. He is 12 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of ninth-place J.J. Yeley. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, McDowell emerged from a field packed with big-name contenders to place in the top 10. McDowell’s ninth-place finish is his best by far at Daytona International Speedway. His next-best finish in the 500: 30th.
This week: In seven career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, McDowell’s best finish is 34th. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, McDowell ranks 61st out of 63 drivers with an average place of 39.1.
Last year: McDowell finished 43rd in 2012, running only eight laps before parking with a brakes issue.
What he said: “For us, an under-funded team to come here to Daytona and get a top 10 finish is pretty cool.”

9. J.J. Yeley (No. 10)

Tommy Baldwin Racing, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Yeley is ninth in the standings with 34 points. He is 13 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and zero points ahead of 10th-place Clint Bowyer. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Yeley started 41st and led zero laps, yet finished 10th, capping a strong day for Tommy Baldwin Racing.
This week: In nine career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Yeley’s best finish is 14th place. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Yeley ranks 37th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 27.7.
Last year: Yeley improved on his starting position of 35th, finishing 26th and three laps off the lead.
What he said: "After a long, hard-fought day at Daytona, we were able to log a top-ten finish for our first outing with our new team."

10. Clint Bowyer (No. 15)

Michael Waltrip Racing, Toyota

Where he stands: Bowyer is 10th in the standings with 34 points. He is 13 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and two points ahead of 11th-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Bowyer led one lap and was in the lead pack for the final few laps. His No. 15 Toyota placed 11th.
This week: In 15 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Bowyer has two top fives and five top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Bowyer ranks 18th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 17.1.
Last year: The new pave job and track configuration at Phoenix troubled Bowyer, who qualified 16th. To be fair, the Kansas native encountered some bad luck, too, hitting the wall on Lap 15 and Lap 25 due to cut tires. After plummeting down to 40th through 30 laps, Bowyer crept back up to 30th place by the end of the race.
What he said: "It definitely could have been worse.  You only have one shot at this race every year.  Another year gone by. Not a fast race car."

11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17)

Roush Fenway Racing, Ford

Where he stands: Stenhouse is 11th in the standings with 32 points. He is 15 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 12th-place Aric Almirola. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Stenhouse drove well and had a but of fortuitous luck. Stenhouse’s No. 17 Ford was dinged in a wreck that sent multiple drivers -- namely Carl Edwards -- to the garage. Stenhouse didn’t have major damage and stayed on the lead lap, ultimately finishing 12th.
This week: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has no starts at Phoenix International Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Last year: Stenhouse did not run at Phoenix last year.
What he said: “I think we had a lot better piece than that and a lot better team than what we showed today, but we’ll keep working on it.”

12. Aric Almirola (No. 43)

Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford

Where he stands: Almirola is 12th in the standings with 31 points. He is 16 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and zero points ahead of 13th-place Denny Hamlin. 
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Almirola capped a strong day for Richard Petty Motorsports, captaining his No. 43 Ford to a 13th-place finish with consistent driving.
This week: In four career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Almirola’s best finish is 12th. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Almirola ranks 22nd out of 63 drivers with an average place of 19.7.
Last year: Almirola’s best Phoenix showing came last season. Down to 30th place 60 laps in, Almirola and his team rallied to churn up the leaderboard. He got into the top 10, capping out in eighth place in Lap 180, and finished 12th.
What he said: “I made a lot of ground up there at the end.  Our car was really good.”

13. Denny Hamlin (No. 11)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota

Where he stands: Hamlin is 13th in the standings with 31 points. He is 16 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and two points ahead of 14th-place Bobby Labonte. He is zero points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Hamlin had a bittersweet showing. The sweet came in the fact that the No. 11 driver started 35th due to wrecking in the Daytona Duels and fought back to finish 14th. The bitter is that Hamlin had worked his way up to the lead, running 33 laps -- second most in the race -- out front. He was the top finisher for Joe Gibbs Racing after Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch headed to the garage with mechanical issues and didn’t finish.
This week: In 15 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Hamlin has one win, seven top fives, eight top 10s and one pole. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Hamlin ranks sixth out of 63 drivers with an average place of 11.1.
Last year: Hamlin’s top showing at Phoenix came during this race in 2012. Hamlin worked his way into the top three within 30 laps and stayed there most of the afternoon. He led 61 laps on three different occasions, including the final 59.
What he said: "It’s good to see that the pack racing is back and there’s no more two-car tandem."

14. Bobby Labonte (No. 47)

JTG Daugherty Racing, Toyota

Where he stands: Labonte is 14th in the standings with 29 points. He is 18 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 15th-place David Reutimann. He is two points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Labonte -- one of the oldest competitors in the field at age 48 -- showed he could still deliver a lesson or two on the track. Labonte has done well at Daytona in the past, as evidenced by his 10 career top-10 finishes, and stayed steady in the field to finish 15th in his No. 47 Toyota.
This week: In 28 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Labonte three top fives, nine top 10s and one pole. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Labonte ranks 25th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 21.5.
Last year: It was another consistent showing for Labonte, who started 17th and finished 16th as one of the final drivers on the lead lap.

15. David Reutimann (No. 83)

BK Racing, Toyota

Where he stands: Reutimann is 15th in the standings with 28 points. He is 19 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 16th-place Dave Blaney. He is three points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, veteran Reutimann finished in the middle of a pack of veteran drivers who stayed toward the rear, avoided the wrecks and were in position for a top-15 finish by staying out of trouble. Reutimann finished in 16th place.
This week: In 11 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Reutimann has three top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Reutimann ranks 28th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 21.8.
Last year: Reutimann climbed into the top 10 by Lap 195, but engine problems ended his day early. He finished 36th, running 248 of 312 laps.

16. Dave Blaney (No. 7)

Tommy Baldwin Racing, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Blaney is 16th in the standings with 27 points. He is 20 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 17th-place Marcos Ambrose. He is four points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Blaney -- in his hard-to-miss pink, Florida Lottery-sponsored fire suit -- finished in 17th place.
This week: In 20 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Blaney has two top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Blaney ranks 43rd out of 63 drivers with an average place of 30.2.
Last year: Blaney started 23rd and finished 23rd, his best showing in the Phoenix since 2008.

17. Marcos Ambrose (No. 9)

Richard Petty Motorsports, Ford

Where he stands: Ambrose is 17th in the standings with 26 points. He is 21 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and zero points ahead of 18th-place Joey Logano. He is five points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Ambrose finished 18th after starting 24th. It was a disappointing ending for Ambrose, although hardly his fault. The No. 9 Ford was solid all day and was in third place with 18 laps to go. Ambrose avoided a wreck on the final lap, but in doing so had to jump off his line, giving up a lot of ground in the process.
This week: In nine career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Ambrose has one top 10. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Ambrose ranks 16th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 16.5.
Last year: Ambrose was on his way to his best-ever finish at Phoenix before being beset with engine issues. Ambrose was third through 285 laps before blowing up and exiting after Lap 295.

18. Joey Logano (No. 22)

Penske Racing, Ford

Where he stands: Logano is 18th in the standings with 26 points. He is 21 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 19th-place Jeff Gordon. He is five points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Logano finished 19th. It took an incredible effort to finish the race at all, though. During a Lap 27 wreck that sidelined some of the favorites, Logano drove well off the track to avoid a sliding Kasey Kahne, then angled his way back on in such a way that he barely avoided the infield grass -- although he did spray up a puff of dirt -- and an out-of-control Juan Pablo Montoya, who was also collected in the wreck.
This week: In eight career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Logano one top five and three top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Logano ranks 19th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 17.3.
Last year: Logano’s success at Phoenix continued last year with a 10th-place finish. It was Logano’s second 10th-place effort in the past three Subway Fresh Fit 500s.

19. Jeff Gordon (No. 24)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Gordon is 19th in the standings with 25 points. He is 22 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 20th-place Paul Menard. He is six points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Gordon took the lead from Danica Patrick and didn’t give it up for more than 30 laps. Things turned bad quickly, though, for the four-time champion, who finished 20th. It was the fourth consecutive year he’s finished 20th or worse in the 500.
This week: In 28 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Gordon has two wins, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s and three poles. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Gordon ranks fourth out of 63 drivers with an average place of 10.6.
Last year: Gordon started 30th, moved up to eighth and fell back down to 27th  … and that was just in the first 60 laps. Ultimately, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver found enough speed to place eighth.
What he said: “We lost track position and it didn’t seem like we were ever going to get it back.”

20. Paul Menard (No. 27)

Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet

Where he stands: Menard is 20th in the standings with 24 points. He is 23 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and one point ahead of 21st-place Michael Waltrip. He is seven points out of 12th place.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Menard finished in 21st place after starting 16th.
This week: In 12 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Menard has two top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Menard ranks 29th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 23.2.
Last year: Menard finished 31st, nine laps down, in his worst showing at Phoenix.
 
In the Rearview Mirror

Kyle Busch (No. 18)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
Where he stands: Busch is 31st in the standings with 10 points.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Busch started fourth but couldn’t finish. He tumbled down the leaderboard after a particularly bad pit stop, then drove his way back into the thick of things. His day ended 49 laps early with a busted engine.
This week: In 16 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch has one win, three top fives and 10 top 10s and two poles. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Busch ranks fifth out of 63 drivers with an average place of 10.9.

Matt Kenseth (No. 20)

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
Where he stands: Kenseth is 33rd in the standings with nine points.
Last week: In the season-opening Daytona 500, Kenseth may have had the best car. The 2012 winner of the Great American Race was cruising and appeared to be in great position to defend his title. Then his engine blew up, sending Kenseth to the garage for good. He completed 149 laps, 86 of which he led.
This week: In 21 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Kenseth has one win, five top fives, eight top 10s and one pole. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Kenseth ranks 17th out of 63 drivers with an average place of 16.5.
 

Kasey Kahne (No. 5)

Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet
Where he stands: Kahne is 34th in the standings with eight points.
Last week: Kahne was involved in a multicar crash on Lap 27 of the Daytona 500. He did not return to the race.
This week: In 17 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Kahne has one win, three top fives and six top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Kahne ranks 23rd out of 63 drivers with an average place of 19.9.
 

Tony Stewart (No. 14)

Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Where he stands: Stewart is 37th in the standings with three points.
Last week: Stewart, seeking his first Daytona 500 win in his 15th attempt, was involved in a multicar crash on Lap 27 of the Daytona 500. He did not return to the race.
This week: In 22 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Stewart has one win, eight top fives and 11 top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Stewart ranks second out of 63 drivers with an average place of 10.2.
 

Kevin Harvick (No. 29)

Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet
Where he stands: Harvick is 38th in the standings with two points.
Last week: Harvick was involved in a multicar crash on Lap 27 of the Daytona 500. He did not return to the race. Earlier in Speedweeks, he won The Sprint Unlimited and the first of two Daytona Duels.
This week: In 20 career starts at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick has three wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s. For point-paying races in the past eight years at Phoenix, Harvickranks seventh out of 63 drivers with an average place of 11.3.

READ MORE:

READ: Danica earns
500 respect

Read: Keselowski
drives through damage

Watch: Johnson
hits Victory Lane

READ: Daytona 500
takes shape

 

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