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2006 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

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2006 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

2006 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway

Logo courtesy of NASCAR

2006 Subway Fresh 500:

Phoenix International Raceway has hosted NASCAR NEXTEL Cup action since 1988. In that memorable race Alan Kulwicki won the first race of his career and performed the very first "polish victory lap." Since then the races have not been all that memorable.

The relatively flat one-mile oval doesn't often host great races for the big heavy stock cars. However, this weekend's race is under the lights on Saturday night. Anything is possible when the NEXTEL Cup stars come out at night.

Tickets:

Speedway ticket office (602) 252-2227

The Track:

Turn one is sharp with just 11 degrees of banking while turns 3 and 4 are long and sweeping with just 9 degrees of banking. Phoenix also features a unique "kink" in the backstretch that serves to tighten up the backstretch and limit passing.

These challenging specs means that your car has to handle well in order to survive a long 500 kilometer race there. It is possible to pass if you are faster, but there is no outside groove for side-by-side racing.

Race Distance:

312 Laps = 312 Miles = 500 Kilometers

The Big Picture:

This is race number 8 of the 26 race "regular season" before the top ten are locked in for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Jimmie Johnson maintains the points lead but the battle at the top is very close with four drivers within 46 points of the lead.

Top Ten

  1. Jimmie Johnson -0
  2. Matt Kenseth -15
  3. Kasey Kahne -46
  4. Mark Martin -46
  5. Tony Stewart -97
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -112
  7. Kyle Busch -113
  8. Jeff Gordon -152
  9. Kevin Harvick -204
  10. Casey Mears -218

Storylines:

Kurt Busch won this race last year, but made headlines of a different sort when the NEXTEL Cup series returned in the fall. Kurt's off-track antics caused him to be suspended for the rest of 2005 by team owner Jack Roush.

Now fast-forward to this year and Kurt's younger brother, Hendrick Motorsports hotshoe Kyle, is in the news for "chirping" his tires in a Richmond, VA rental car. Kyle was ticketed for reckless driving.

Are the Busch brothers the new bad boys of NASCAR?

Media Coverage:

TV: FOX Saturday, April 22nd, 8:00PM Eastern.

Radio: MRN and XM Satellite

Actual Race: 8:25 p.m. Eastern

Posted Awards:

$4,866,887

Previously...:

Last year Kurt Busch dominated this event leading 219 of the 312 lap distance.

Pit strategy played a part as Michael Waltrip stayed out on older tires while Kurt Busch pitted. This left the race in doubt for a while. However, it didn't take long for Kurt Busch to slice back through the field. He took the lead with 43 laps to go and coasted home for the win.

Predictions:

Phoenix is a difficult race track to predict. This race has seen some dominating performances and some first time winners. Pit strategy can come into play as we saw here last year. We have even seen races decided on fuel mileage. You just never know what to expect in Phoenix.

My primary pick for this week's Subway Fresh 500 is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Over the last five races in Phoenix Dale Jr has four top fives including two wins. His only bad finish came last fall when he was the victim of an early wreck. Dale Earnhardt Jr. knows how to get around Phoenix and should be a force on Saturday night.

For my backup pick I'm going with Kurt Busch. He won here last spring and his Penske Dodge has been fast so far in 2006. He posted a big win in Bristol and could easily do it again this year.

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