Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski the Battle Continues at Phoenix

Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski stepped it up last week in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.  It ended up being an epic battle for not just the race win but championship.  This week the battle continues but at a much different speedway.  This week NASCAR returns to Phoenix International Raceway.  Let the battle continue.

The Phoenix International Raceway is a one mile D shaped oval except the front stretch is the back stretch and is straight.  The back stretch which is D shaped is not a perfect D, it is a D that has been stepped on.  What this does is makes turns 1 and 2 a really tight single 180 degree turn.  Turns 3 and 4 are a much longer sweeping turn.  This gives Crew Chiefs and Drivers problems because the car reacts differently to each end of the track.  The team that adjusts their car to be fast at both ends of the track will win the race.  Typically they also want their best end to be turns 3 and 4 so they can get to the start finish line better than the other cars.

This track is considered a flat track even though there is some banking.  The changes made last summer included 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4.  Typically on a short track the distance is measured in laps not miles except at this track the race is 500 Kilometers or 312 laps.

Last week at Texas, Jimmie Johnson had good statistics and figured to do well based on them alone.  He not only improved those good statistics but by dominating the race now has dominating statistics.  Brad Keselowski on the other hand had mediocre at best statistics, by finishing second it can be argued that he was the most improved driver.  It doesn’t matter though as he is now seven points behind Jimmie in the standings instead of two points.

This week at Phoenix, Jimmie Johnson doesn’t have good stats, he has incredible stats.  He has a driver rating of a dominating 118.4, the next best driver is Tony Stewart at 100.4.  Brad Keselowski has a driver rating of a dismal 72.9.  When looking at a driver’s average finish, Jimmie Johnson has a truly dominating average finish of 5.3.  It is hard to imagine after competing in 18 races he has finished at least sixth place in every one.  WOW!  The next best is Jeff Gordon with an average finish of 10.8.  Brad has an average finish of 22.2.  If Jimmie and Brad match their average finishes, Brad will be 24 points behind in the standings at the end of the race.

In the spring race Jimmie was fourth and Brad was fifth, perhaps a foreshadowing of what was to come. This week Jimmie Johnson only has to continue his past performance here. Brad Keselowski doesn’t have to just step it up but he has to win.  Brad said “I feel like Phoenix is a whole different animal.  I know you want to bring the stats up where he’s so dominant.  But they repaved last year, so it’s not the same track.  So I don’t feel like a notebook there is that significant.”  I hope Brad is right or this championship might just be over.

The Battle for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup continues at Phoenix International Raceway.  If you cannot get to the track, the race will be on ESPN Sunday November 11th at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

Top 12 Driver Rating at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson……………………. 118.4
Tony Stewart……………………….. 100.4
Carl Edwards………………………… 99.7
Jeff Gordon…………………………… 99.5
Kurt Busch…………………………… 98.9
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 98.8
Mark Martin………………………….. 98.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 97.5
Kyle Busch………………………….. 96.9
Greg Biffle……………………………. 93.3
Martin Truex Jr……………………… 89.1
Ryan Newman………………………. 88.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) among active drivers at Phoenix International Raceway

 


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