Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Phoenix Fall Race Edition

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson came home second in this race last year, and has four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix. He also finished second here in 2003.

Jeff Gordon – Gordon won this spring’s Phoenix race from the pole to finally score his first Cup victory here. He’s run very well at the track, collecting 14 top-10 finishes in 17 Cup starts for an average finish of eighth. He also won a Busch Series race here in 1999.

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer finished fifth here in the spring race last year, but his other three Phoenix starts have yielded finishes outside the top 20. This track is where Bowyer made his Nextel Cup debut back in 2005, finishing 22nd.

Kyle Busch – Busch won here in 2005, ironically enough on the same weekend his brother was busted for a suspected DUI. After a disastrous 2006 in the Arizona desert, Busch rebounded with a seventh-place finish here in the spring.

Carl Edwards – Edwards has finished 11th or better five races in a row here, but he’s never been able to lead a lap in Cup competition. Edwards did win a Busch race at Phoenix in 2005 and has top-10 finishes in all seven of his Busch and Truck Series starts at the track.

Tony Stewart – Stewart won here in 1999 – his Phoenix Cup debut – and finished second here this spring. Along the way, he’s posted top-10 finishes in seven of his 11 career Cup starts, averaging a 10th-place finish at the track.

See also
Fantasy Picks 'N' Pans: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix Edition

Jeff Burton – Burton won back-to-back races in the desert in 2000 and 2001 – back when I thought Phoenix was still part of Mexico and the Cup Series visited just once a year. He’s averaging a 12th-place finish at the track for his career; but he hasn’t led a lap here since that ’01 win.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick swept both Cup races at Phoenix in 2006. Last year, he dominated the fall event, leading 252 of 312 laps; he’s also won two CTS events and a Busch Series race here.

Kurt Busch – Busch won the spring Phoenix race in 2005, but wasn’t around to defend his title that fall after a little falling out with the Phoenix Sheriff’s department. He has top-10 finishes in five of his nine Cup starts at the track overall.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth won here in 2002, and has five top-10 finishes in 10 Phoenix Cup starts. Those good runs have been offset by three DNFs, however.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin has finished third in his last two Cup races at Phoenix, and won his first career pole in the series here in the fall of 2005.

Martin Truex Jr. – This hasn’t been one of Truex’s better tracks. After three Phoenix Cup starts, he’s averaging an 18th-place finish with no laps led on the 1-mile oval.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Junior won back-to-back races at Phoenix in 2003-04, but hasn’t led a lap here since. After 10 career Cup starts in the desert, he’s averaging just a 17th-place finish with two DNFs.

Ryan Newman – Newman has run both second and third here, but those were his only two top 10s in 10 career Phoenix Cup starts. He’s averaging a miserable 22nd-place finish overall at the track.

Casey Mears – Never running better than 20th at Phoenix, Mears isn’t setting the world on fire here; he’s got just a 31st-place average finish after seven career starts at the track. That’s not going to get your mug on a trading card anytime soon…

Greg Biffle – Biffle finished second here in 2005, but his other six Phoenix finishes were outside the top 10… most of them decidedly so. His average finish here is a mediocre 20th place.

Kasey Kahne – It’s feast or famine for Kahne at Phoenix. The driver’s three top 10s here are offset by three lackluster runs of 17th or worse.

Jamie McMurray – After eight Phoenix Cup starts, McMurray is still looking for a top-10 result. His average finish in those eight races? A dismal 25th.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte is batting slightly better than .500 at Phoenix as far as top-10 finishes go (nine for 17). Even better, he’s got five top 10s in his last six Cup starts at the track.

JJ Yeley – Yeley is averaging a 23rd-place finish after three career starts at this track; the sophomore’s never been higher than 20th.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya’s entry in two Busch and one Cup race at Phoenix hasn’t yielded the sudden influx of Hispanic fans to the grandstands some folks envisioned. Maybe that’s because he hasn’t finished better than 20th in any of those races?

About the author

Matt joined Frontstretch in 2007 after a decade of race-writing, paired with the first generation of racing internet sites like RaceComm and Racing One. Now semi-retired, he submits occasional special features while his retrospectives on drivers like Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison, and other fallen NASCAR legends pop up every summer on Frontstretch. A motorcycle nut, look for the closest open road near you and you can catch him on the Harley during those bright, summer days in his beloved Pennsylvania.

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