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2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

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2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

Logo Courtesy of NASCAR

2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:

Last year Carl Edwards came into Phoenix with a three point lead over Tony Stewart. In 2012 Jimmie Johnson's lead is larger than that, but not by much. Jimmie enjoys a seven point lead over Brad Keselowski with two races remaining in the 2012 season.

The big question this weekend is: how will the 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway affect the Chase for the Cup?

Tickets:

Speedway ticket office (602) 252-2227

The Track:

Phoenix International Raceway was reconfigured since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was last here. Turn one is now features a progressive banking ranging from 10-11 degrees while turns 3 and 4 are long and sweeping with just 8-9 degrees of progressive banking. Phoenix also features a unique "kink" in the backstretch which also now has progressive banking ranging from 10-11 degrees.

These challenging specs means that your car has to handle well in order to survive a long 500 kilometer race there.

Race Distance:

312 Laps = 312 Miles = 500 Kilometers

The Big Picture:

Jimmie Johnson won and lead the most laps last week in Texas to maximize his points. However, Brad Keselowski was right on his tail in the closing laps to finish second and limit the damage in the Chase standings.

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:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Brad Keselowski -7
  3. Clint Bowyer -36
  4. Kasey Kahne -58
  5. Matt Kenseth -72
  6. Jeff Gordon -72
  7. Denny Hamlin -73
  8. Tony Stewart -80
  9. Martin Truex Jr. -80
  10. Greg Biffle -83
  11. Kevin Harvick -101
  12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -151

Storylines:

Obviously the Chase battle will be first in the collective mind of the media this weekend. Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski won't be able to eat breakfast without scheduling a follow-up press conference to discuss it. However this is another interesting story this weekend which will give the media something else to talk about in between stories about the #2 and #48.

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.

Media Coverage:

TV: ESPN Sunday, November 11th, 2:00PM Eastern.

Radio: MRN and SIRIUS Satellite

Actual Race: 3:15 p.m. Eastern

Recent Events:

2011 Winner: Kasey Kahne

2011 Polesitter: Matt Kenseth

Last Year:

Last year this race was all about the 2011 Chase for the Cup. Carl Edwards came to Phoenix with a three point lead over Tony Stewart and they left with the exact same margin. Kasey Kahne scored the win but the focus of the day was the points battle between Edwards and Stewart who finished second and third.

Predictions:

Last week the Chase leaders finished one-two and it is likely that the Chase leaders will once again finish near the top of the standings. But both of the Chase leaders are not worth of your fantasy team this week.

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.

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