2016 Phoenix International Raceway, Can-Am 500
It seems like the season just started and here we are with only two more races left. Carl Edwards came away with the win on Sunday night in a rain delayed race at Texas and he is now qualified for the championship race with Jimmie Johnson. That leaves two spots up for grabs between the other six drivers left in the Chase. Right now, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch are tied for those last two spots with Matt Kenseth only one point back and Denny Hamlin only two points back. Then we have Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch who both almost have to win this week’s race to make the championship.
This week the series heads back to the Phoenix International Raceway for the running of the Can-Am 500. Phoenix is a slightly longer than one-mile fairly flat tri-oval track out in the Arizona desert. This is also one of the only races that the mileage in the name refers to kilometers and not miles, so the race will be scheduled to run 500km.
Kevin Harvick: You absolutely must have Harvick on your team this weekend. Kevin has won six of the last nine races held at this track since it was reconfigured back in 2011. He finished second in two of the other three races and thirteenth in the other. He knows something about getting around this track that none of the other drivers have figured out yet. Odds are he wins again and makes the championship race at Homestead.
Kyle Busch: Kyle has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten here in seven of his last ten starts. There is going to be a tremendous amount of pressure on these drivers this week because they all know how good Kevin can be here. That means if Kevin wins there is only one spot left that will be awarded on points, so every position will count. No one can afford to have a penalty or a poor pit stop here this weekend.
Joey Logano: Joey is still looking for his first win at this track, but he is right there with Kyle Busch in his stats here lately. He has finished in the top ten in five of his last six starts here and knows who he needs to pass to gain those points. That is one thing about this race the drivers will know. How many spots they need to pick up and who they can’t afford to let pass them.
Matt Kenseth: Matt isn’t as consistent at Phoenix as most of his competition is, but he has his calm demeanor going for him. I don’t know how long he will remain calm in this race though because he knows what it means to win a championship. I think he will stay calm for the first half of the race but then look out. Matt has two top ten finishes here in his last three starts but only three in his last ten.
Denny Hamlin: Denny needs to pick up two points and pass two or three drivers in the standings. He ha one win here and ten top five finishes in his twenty-two career starts. Remember, he made this round in a tiebreaker with Austin Dillon when they were tied in points after the last race of the second round. Can he do it again? Odds are he will finish well once again and very well could move on to the championship race.
Carl Edwards: Carl can relax a little bit this week now because of his win last week at Texas. However, Carl usually runs fairly well here and finished second to Kevin in the March race here this year. He lead sixty-five laps in that race and started on the front row. The question is, will he run for the win or try to help one of his three teammates make the championship. If I was him I wouldn’t want to race any of my teammates for the championship.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie could relax this weekend also, but we all know Jimmie never does that. He wants to win every race he enters and will try to do just that once again this weekend. He doesn’t have any teammates who are still qualified for the Chase so he can go out and just do his job. I think he would love to get the win and knock Kevin out of the championship so he doesn’t have to worry about him at Homestead.
Kurt Busch: Kurt won his only race here back in 2005. He has finished in the top ten in his last four starts and has qualified in the top ten in his last six races here. He now sits thirty-four points out of the championship which means he has to win this race to move on to Homestead. This team will take every chance they can to win this race, but I don’t think they can do it.
Brad Keselowski: Brad is still looking for his first win at this track and now that he has already been knocked out of the Chase he has nothing to shoot for but he win this weekend. He has run consistently well here over the past none race coming away with seven top ten finishes in them. If he can help out his teammate, Joey Logano, he will but at the same time he will do everything he can to take his car to victory lane.
Chase Elliott: Chase has only one race at this track and he came away with an eighth place finish in that start. His rookie season is quickly coming to a close and he is still looking for his first win. Even if he doesn’t pick it up in the next two races, he is going to win a whole bunch of races in his career and multiple championships. His potential is better than any driver who has come into the series since Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Kevin Harvick.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Carl Edwards
- Ryan Newman
- Jamie McMurray
- Martin Truex Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Joey Logano
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
- Jimmie Johnson
Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray
Stay Away From: Tony Stewart
Big 18: Kevin Harvick