X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NASCAR

Jimmie Johnson is on a Roll Into Phoenix

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Johnson ran a conservative NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway but kept himself in position to win the race.  That paid off as he was able to get to the front at the end and hold on for the win.  This week the NASCAR teams have traveled a great distance to the Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.  Jimmie Johnson looks to continue his dominance.

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.  There is 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 or 312 miles.

Throughout the season in this column as part of the race preview we will discuss the top drivers at that week’s track.  The discussion will consist of the driver rating, the average finish and those drivers who are doing well.  The top 12 driver ratings will be posted at the end for reference.  Driver ratings though good to show who is good at anyone particular track are not really a good indication at restrictor plate tracks, that is why this is the first race they will be discussed.

When looking at the driver ratings for Phoenix International Raceway it would appear that Jimmie Johnson will be picking up right where he left off in Daytona.  He has a commanding rating of 115.8.  The next closest drivers are actually a statistical tie with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin.

A five point driver rating difference is big especially if it is between 115 and 100.  In order to give further indication the driver’s average finish is also used to figure out the strength or their efforts at the track.  In this case Jimmie Johnson is still in command with an average finish of 6.7.  Only Mark Martin has an average finish in the top 10 at 9.1.

The only wild card is that Jimmie has not done well at Phoenix since it has been repaved.  If that truly is a game changer than Denny Hamlin is the one to watch this weekend.   Other things to watch are if the new Generation six car changes the racing at this track.  Since it is a short track and aerodynamics are not that important it would be expected that the racing will not be much different.

The last time Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 was the first year of his string of five championships in a row.  If he can continue his success at Phoenix he will be well on his way to a sixth championship.

If you cannot get to Phoenix International Raceway the race will be on FOX at 2:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a 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. On Pinterest at NASCARnews. Also add to your network on Google.

 

Top 12 Driver Rating at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 115.8
Denny Hamlin……………………… 100.4
Kyle Busch………………………….. 99.9
Kurt Busch………………………….. 99.3
Tony Stewart……………………….. 99.0
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 98.8
Kevin Harvick……………………….. 98.4
Carl Edwards……………………….. 98.3
Mark Martin…………………………. 97.8
Greg Biffle…………………………… 92.4
Ryan Newman……………………… 88.9
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 85.5
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (16 total) among active drivers at Phoenix International Raceway