2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:
The big question this weekend is: how will the 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway affect the Chase for the Cup?
These challenging specs means that your car has to handle well in order to survive a long 500 kilometer race there.
The Big Picture:
Johnson did stretch his lead a little but with two races remaining in the 2012 Chase for the Cup Keselowski's seven point deficit is still easily within reach.
At this point the 2012 Chase for the Cup is finally a two-man race. When the checkered flag falls in Homestead two weeks from now either Jimmie Johnson or Brad Keselowski will be the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.
The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings:
This weekend marks Danica Patrick's final Sprint Cup Series start of 2012 and a return to her "home" track. Danica lives about 30 miles away in Scottsdale, AZ.
Danica is currently tenth in the the Nationwide Series point standings and could make history this year. Sara Christian finished 13th in points back in 1949 to set a record as the highest finishing female in NASCAR history. Danica in currently on track to break that record.
On the Sprint Cup side Danica has had a rocky season, often seeming to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However a new crew chief last week in Texas lead Danica to her first lead lap finish of 2012. Another solid run in Phoenix would give her some great momentum into the off season as she prepares for a Sprint Cup campaign next year.
There is plenty of reason to review Danica's 2012 NASCAR season this weekend while the Chase for the Cup grinds on in the foreground.
Radio: MRN and SIRIUS Satellite
Actual Race: 3:15 p.m. Eastern
2011 Winner: Kasey Kahne
2011 Polesitter: Matt Kenseth
From November of 2007 through November of 2009 Jimmie Johnson won four of the five Phoenix races held. In addition Jimmie was fourth when we raced here in March and he lead 55 laps. Jimmie knows his way to Victory Lane and should contend once again for the win as he tries to extend his Chase winning streak to three and build a cushion for Homestead.
My backup pick this week does not go to Brad Keselowski. Even though he finished fifth here in the spring that was his first ever Phoenix top five, or even top ten. In six tries his average finish is 22.2.
My backup pick this week goes to Denny Hamlin. He won here in March leading the entire final 52 lap green flag run to the checkers. Hamlin had a fast car and was able to hold off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick when Harvick ran out of fuel with two laps to go. Hamlin makes a great pick to complete the Phoenix sweep in 2012.