Carl Edwards goes for the Phoenix International Raceway Sweep

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Last week NASCAR was at the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway, a high banked fast track. This week NASCAR and Carl Edwards return to the Phoenix International Raceway a much different track, for the AdvoCare 500.

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.

Carl Edwards doesn’t have the best driver rating at this track but he has the second best at 100.6. Jimmie Johnson has the best driver rating of 116.4, almost to that magical 120 number.

When looking at Johnson’s average finish of 6.5 compared to Edwards 11.8, it would appear that one should just hand him the trophy. With the Chase for the Sprint Cup as close as it is, even though he says they don’t watch where Matt Kenseth is running, they do. If Kenseth puts any pressure on at all Johnson will be more focused on that and less on winning the race.

Denny Hamlin is third best but he hasn’t been running well as of late because of his back. That leaves Carl Edwards, who has nothing to lose but everything to win.

Edwards won the race here last spring and will be going for a season sweep at Phoenix International Raceway, joining Kevin Harvick (2006) and Jimmie Johnson (2008) as the only drivers to sweep.

The biggest thing that helped us at Phoenix was our pit crew. We had awesome pit stops and kept coming out three or four spots ahead of where we were running and that ultimately is what won us the race.” Edwards added, “The car was very fast too and in practice we had a car that was fast enough that really I don’t think anybody was going to pass us as long as we were in front of them.

If you can’t get to Phoenix International Raceway it will be broadcast on ESPN Sunday, November 10th, at 2 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, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Top 13 Driver Rating at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson………………….. 116.4
Carl Edwards………………………. 100.6
Denny Hamlin……………………… 100.3
Tony Stewart………………………… 99.2
Kevin Harvick……………………….. 99.0
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 98.8
Kurt Busch…………………………… 97.7
Kyle Busch…………………………… 97.5
Mark Martin………………………….. 97.5
Greg Biffle…………………………… 92.0
Matt Kenseth………………………… 87.0
Ryan Newman………………………. 86.8
Jeff Burton…………………………… 85.0
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (17 total) among active drivers at Phoenix International Raceway.


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