After a dominating performance at Texas this past weekend, Brad Keselowski still needs to win the race at Phoenix this week to move into the championship round of the Chase. That’s because Jimmie Johnson passed Brad towards the end of the race and took the win away from the driver who led 312 of the 334 laps run in that race. Brad remains nineteen points out of contention in sixth place in the standings.
QUICKEN LOANS RACE FOR HEROES 500
The final race in the Eliminator round will be held this coming weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Phoenix is a one-mile flat oval track that was reconfigured in 2011. This year the track announced it will rename the track to the ‘Jeff Gordon’ Raceway for this weekends race in honor of the retiring driver. Jeff is the only Chase driver already qualified for the Championship round of the Chase so he can relax this weekend.
Kevin Harvick: I have to pick Kevin to win this weekend and move on to the final round of the Chase. The reason is simple. Kevin has won the last four races at Phoenix and five of the last six. Ever since this track was reconfigured it seems like no one has an answer for Kevin here and I don’t see that changing this weekend. If Kevin can stay out of trouble on the track and on pit-road and doesn’t have any mechanical issues, he will be able to defend his title at Homestead.
Brad Keselowski: As I stated earlier, Brad almost has to win this race to move on. He could get in on points if quite a few of the other Chase drivers have major problems during the race, but that isn’t likely. Brad has yet to win at this track, but he has finished in the top six in six of his last seven starts here. Look for him to push it to the edge of his limits late in the race to try and pull out his first win here.
Kurt Busch: Kurt is another driver who needs to win to move on. Kurt currently sits in seventh position, twenty-eight points out of the top four in the standings. The only thing Kurt has going for him this weekend is that he has won a race here during his career. However, that win came way back in 2005. Kevin could help Kurt out a little bit with his setup and some advice on how he gets around the track, but I’m not sure Kevin wants to give to much away as he needs to qualify for the final round himself.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie finally won another race this season and is always a threat to win multiple races in a row. He has always been good at Phoenix also with four career wins and fourteen to five finishes in his twenty-four starts at this track. Even though this team was eliminated from the Chase already, they still want to win races and get ready for next season. Jimmie won’t just give a race away to help anyone else out.
Joey Logano: Joey absolutely has no other choice than to win this week’s race if he wants to make the Chase. Even though he has finished in the top ten in his last four starts here, he is still looking for his first win. I’m not going to count him out, but I think he has a huge mountain to climb because there are so many other drivers that are in the Chase that have shown they are more consistent at this track and those drivers need the best finishes they can get too.
Carl Edwards: Carl is seven points out of the last championship round qualifying position right now. He needs to make up that many points on on fourth place Martin Truex Jr. if he wants to move on. That is if someone below him in the standings doesn’t win this race. Carl has two wins at this track and will be shooting for his third and hoping to fall no further than a fifth place finish at the least which will give him a chance.
Kyle Busch: Kyle won his only race at this track back in 2005 also. He currently sits second in the standings which gives him a very small cushion heading into this weekend. However, I don’t think any of these drivers will feel comfortable with the position they are in the standings until the checkered flag waves. Any small problem anywhere during this race can knock any of these drivers out of a chance to win a championship.
Martin Truex Jr.: This week is going to be really nerve wracking for Martin. He has started nineteen races at this track and his results haven’t been that great. He only has one top five and seven top ten finishes in those nineteen starts. While he doesn’t need to win this race to move on, he can’t afford to finish outside of the top fifteen. This team needs to do what they have been doing all year. Take what the track gives them early in the race and try to stay out of trouble and see what you need to do towards the end to move to the next round.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff will be the only Chase driver relaxed this weekend at Phoenix. His finishing position doesn’t really matter as he is already qualified for the Chase. He has won two races at this track during his career and has finished in the top ten here an astounding twenty-three times in thirty-three starts. Jeff has shown his consistency at this track throughout his career and he might pick up another win here this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale also has two wins at this track, but he hasn’t won here since 2004. This team has shown that they can race on any type of track this season and has also shown that even if they get behind for some reason during a race they won’t quit and they can fight their way back into contention. This team should be happy with the progress they have made this year and try to improve on that next season. A win this weekend would be a huge step for this team.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Kurt Busch
- Carl Edwards
- Jamie McMurray
- Kyle Larson
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Erik Jones
- Danica Patrick
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jeff Gordon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
Dark Horse: Kyle Larson
Stay Away From: Martin Truex Jr.