Fast Five: Phoenix International Raceway

After winning the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Feburary 27, 2011, Jeff Gordon helped tear up the track. This will be the first race on the reconfigured raceway.
Image Courtesy: Phoenix International Raceway
  Two to go. I can see the checkered flag from here. Can you believe the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is almost over? Next week we will be crowning a new champion that doesn't have the initials J.J or drive for Hendrick Motorsports. This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the 1 mile, low banked track of Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. After the Sprint Cup Series raced here in February, the track went through some renovations and reconfiguration. This took the width of the front stretch to 62 feet, changed the pit stalls from asphalt to concrete, moed the back stretch outward by 95 feet and changed the banking in the first and second turn to 10-11 degrees, and the third and fourth turns to 8-9 degrees. The cool thing about the race this weekend at PIR is that the grandstand is sold out. Fans wishing to see the Kobalt Tools 500 from the track will have to take to the hills. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will run the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday, November 13th, 2011. Here is a look at five significant facts and records that could have an impact on the results of the race finish. Star-divide Best Average Finish and Most Wins: Five time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson, has the best average finish and most wins at Texas Motor Speedway. His best average is 4.8, while has won four races at the track. Most Top-Fives and Most Top-Tens:  Mark Martin may have been in the news lately for replacing David Reutimann in the #00 for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012 but he owns Phoenix International Raceway when it comes to top-fives and top-tens. Mark Martin has 12 top-fives and 19 top-tens. Mark Martin is currently 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings and really excited to head out west to Phoenix. In his weekly pre-race report, Martin says that "It's going to be an interesting weekend because the track is new to everyone. Throw out the old notes and setups." Martin also said that he is really wanting to win one of the last two races for his Hendrick Motorsports team. Fastest Qualifying Speed: 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, Carl Edwards, holds the record for the fastest qualifying speed at the raceway at a speed of 137.279mph. This record was set earlier this year. With the new surface, expect a new record. Last Win at Texas Motor Speedway: The last win at Phoenix International Raceway goes to Jeff Gordon. The win snapped a 66 race absences from Gatorade Victory Lane. Gordon passed Kyle Busch with eight laps to go, denying Busch the NASCAR weekend sweep. Most Laps Led: Jimmie Johnson is the driver that has led the most laps at Phoenix International Raceway with 876 laps. The stats point to Hendrick Motorsports to end up in Victory Lane this weekend? Jimmie Johnson's last victory was on October 9th at Kansas Speedway. Qualifying for the Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix International Raceway is Saturday at 12:30pm EST on SPEED, while the race is Sunday afternoon starting with the NASCAR Countdown on ESPN at 2pm EST. Who do you think will end up in Gatorade Victory Lane after the race? As for me, my pick is Brad Keselowski. Can't wait to see who you pick.

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