Photo Credit: NASCARmedia.com/252672Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
Last week (2/24) the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers got their first chance to race the Gen-6 cars in a pack of 43 cars around the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 taught the drivers how the new cars will react when driving at speeds near 200 mph. They were also able to make notes on how the Gen-6 car handled on the high degree of banking at Daytona. In the end it was Jimmie Johnson who adapted to the new car best and won the Daytona 500.
This weekend’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 will teach the drivers and crews new things about the Gen-6 cars with the layout of the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The PIR is about a mile shorter at 1.51 miles around the circuit. The speeds this weekend will not get anywhere near 200 mph like at Daytona. The NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying record at PIR was set in 2012 by Kyle Busch as he made the lap at 138.766 mph. With the full field on the track the speeds drop just a bit more as the record for speed during a race was set by Kasey Kahne in 2011 with an average speed of 112.918 mph.
Now, don’t think that because the speeds are lower the race will be less exciting. Quite the opposite is true due to the lack of banking in the turns of the tri-oval track. PIR does not have the high degree banking that Daytona has. In fact, compared to Daytona, Phoenix is almost a flat track. That means the crews will have to have the Gen-6 car’s balance between handling and power near perfect if they want to give their driver a chance to win the race Sunday. The lack of that balance on the cars often leads to some spectacular crashes in the desert of Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin heads into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race as the defending winner of the 2012 Subway Fresh Fit 500. Jimmie Johnson takes the only points win of the 2013 season and the point lead into the race. Who will be the winner in the desert Sunday? We will find out after 500 miles of racing is completed.
BY: Buck Stevens