Photo credit: NASCARmedia.com/Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
While only two drivers (Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) have been mathematically eliminated from a shot at the Sprint Cup Championship, Jimmie and Brad will have to have a disastrous day in the final two races for the other Chase drivers to have a real shot at the championship.
Jimmie and Brad are the top two drivers in points respectively and are separated by just seven points. The question is which driver appears to have the edge at closing in on the NASCAR championship this week at Phoenix in the AdvoCare 500?
Jimmie has captured the last two races at Martinsville (two weeks ago) and Texas (last week). Add to that last year was the first year in the last six seasons that Jimmie did not win the championship. Then there is his record at Phoenix International Raceway. Jimmie has the most all-time wins at Phoenix in the Sprint Cup series. He has won four races at the track and three of those four came in the November race. One can only figure that Jimmie will be a favorite Sunday afternoon to win the race.
Brad has never won at Phoenix before and has never won a Sprint Cup Championship. However, Brad has won five races in the 2012 NASCAR season, including two of the first three races in the Chase. Brad sat at the top of the point standings until Jimmie’s win at Martinsville. Brad has shown that he is in this to win the championship in the two races that Jimmie has won to stay very close in second place. He raced his way from a 32nd starting place in Martinsville to finish sixth and took second place last week behind Jimmie last week in Texas. Although the numbers do not favor Brad this week at Phoenix, you shouldn’t count him out of the AdvoCare 500. I’m sure Jimmie won’t.
Of course there will also be 41 other drivers on the track at Phoenix with one thing on their mind…winning. Some of those drivers have wins at the track on the racing resume. Jeff Grodon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton have all won twice before at Phoenix. Denny Hamlin (who won the March race at Phoenix this year), Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart all have a single win at the mile long Tri-oval. You can bet that all of these drivers will be looking to add another win at Phoenix to their career total. The drivers who have never won at the track (including Brad Keselowski) will be looking to check the track off their “need to win there” list.
With so many story lines and the underlying main reason all drivers race to being with, WINNING, you know that this weekend’s AdvoCare 500 will be an exciting NASCAR race for fans and drivers alike.
You can catch all the action of the AdvoCare 500 on our sister station WJBC FM, 93.7, starting at 1 p.m. central time live from Phoenix International Raceway.
By: Buck Stevens
In story photo credits from NASCARmedia.com:
Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR