NASCAR Primer: Phoenix

Phoenix is a unique track, something that many would argue is lacking in the schedule, with it’s flat corners and 1 mile length. It’s different than Loudon because it has a dogleg right on the backstretch. It’s also in a beautiful area in Arizona’s Estrella Mountains. You can actually watch the race from Monument Hill which is near turns 3 and 4 and pictured above. This is a track that is high on my list to watch a NASCAR event. Let’s talk about this week…

48 Team Penalties: That was some fine levied by NASCAR on the Lowes boys. Big fine for crew chief Chad Knaus of $100,000. Big 6 race suspension for both Knaus and the car chief Ron Malec. Big points penalty of 25 points that smacked Jimmie Johnson in the same way Kurt Busch did on lap 2 of the Daytona 500. This leaves the guys in a early season hole of last place in the standings at negative 23 points. Everyone knows this team will not panic, especially this early in the season, and they are getting to one of their best tracks at Phoenix.  A lot has been made on whether or not the penalties were too severe and also on whether they should even have penalties since these guys are paid to push the envelope on specs. The latter argument is simply absurd. How could there not be penalties? This can’t be all reward and no risk for the race teams. It’s great that the 48 team pushes the limits of NASCAR’s rules and of course they are supposed to do it. “If you in’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’,” applies here as it has throughout the history of NASCAR. But if you push too far and do something illegal and, most importantly, get caught doing it then there should be penalties. As far as the stiffness of the penalties, there is a lot at play there with NASCAR potentially making an example out of this team or levying more severe penalties for repeat offenders. It’s no different than in other major sports leagues where if an athlete is caught with performance enhancers on a drug screen the penalties get more severe with more violations. This no doubt, will continue to be a polarizing issue because of the incredible success of Jimmie Johnson & Company.

Dodge: I was shocked when I realized there were only 3 Dodge entries in NASCAR. It wasn’t something that I had paid attention to, to be honest. With Penske Racing’s announcement this week that they are going back to Fords in 2013, this leaves Dodge, right now, with only 1 Team in next year’s lineup. That team is Robby Gordon’s team, for which he also drives. Recently there were rumors that Gordon may want to get out of NASCAR, at least the ownership part of it, which makes the future for Dodge even shakier. I also read some rumors on Twitter and here, that Richard Petty Motorsports could see a return to Dodge. They used them from 1972-1978 and 2001-2009. I think that Petty leaving for Dodge could be a mistake because of the recent competitiveness they have shown with the Roush-powered Fords. However, their contract is up at the end of the year with Ford and you never know what could happen. If anything, they should bring this look back for the 43…

Danica: Much to Jumbo’s chagrin, you know I wasn’t going to leave Danica out. Her goal for this weekend’s Nationwide race: Finish without incident. She needs a clean race after she took an absolute beating in every event she was in at Daytona. I also would imagine that we’ll see lots of Danica on air on Sunday with Darrell Waltrip asking her about what she is learning throughout the broadcast of the Sprint Cup Race. Get used to it…

Phoenix: Oh yeah, there is a race, right? Jimmie Johnson has an average finish of 5.4 and has 4 victories here. He should be a lock for a top 5 finish. Carl Edwards finished 2nd last fall and was running well last spring until he was caught up in a wreck. Kevin Harvick is pretty good here with 6th place or better in 2 of 3 events. However, my pick for the weekend is Tony Stewart. Smoke has led 219 laps in the past two Phoenix races including 160 of those last fall. Look for Smoke to snag a rare early season victory in the desert. Leave me your pick for winner this weekend in the comments below.

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9 thoughts on “NASCAR Primer: Phoenix

  1. 1. Why is it called the Subway Fresh Fit 500 if it is only 312 laps?
    2. I am glad Tony Stewart’s body caught up with his nose.
    3. Clint Bowyer will win this year.

  2. 1. 500km equals 312 laps.
    2. Me too.
    3. I wish that were true.

  3. Also, love the photo work Phil!

    • Thanks Robert… Phoenix looks like an awesome track. I like the description you wrote of it. Looking forward to getting it posted this weekend

  4. Why the hell is NASCAR using the metric system? Save that shit for open wheel racing.

    • Haha… It lets them keep their branding consistency of 400/500/600 events. Like how they call a Martinsville race the Goody’s 500 when it’s just 500 laps not miles. Besides, you just learned something!

  5. Jimmie Johnson: Hey Chad, trying to get motivated for this season but it’s kind of hard. What haven’t we done yet?
    Chad Knaus: Won a championship after starting with negative points.
    Jimmie: How do we get negative points?
    Chad: I got this.

    • It’s going to be awesome if Jimmie has to get in on wins this year. I figure they have a decent shot at some reductions to the penalty however via appeal.

  6. Pingback: NASCAR Afterthoughts: Phoenix | THE SPORTS DUMP

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