A NASCAR fan's guide to Phoenix International Raceway
Phoenix International Raceway Race Stats
2013 Race Length: 312 miles/312 laps
Track Qualifying Record: 138.766 mph (Kyle Busch, 2012)
Race Record: 118.132 mph (Tony Stewart, 1999)
Anonymous Crew Chief's Take on Phoenix International Raceway
“Phoenix is a tough racetrack. The track is going to season, but we’ve tested out there a bunch between the 2013 car and racing out there. It has three unique corners, and the driver has to sign up for that track because it’s fast with a lot of gas and throttle control. I hope NASCAR doesn’t mess with the cars driving across the inside of the backstretch. I think it is fun to see the drivers try something different. They have enough other stuff to worry about without messing with where we race at Phoenix.”
Classic Moments at Phoenix International Raceway
The old man couldn’t be denied.
Mark Martin, back behind the wheel full-time in 2009 after two years of semi-retirement, became the third-oldest winner in NASCAR history and snapped a 97-race winless skid with a commanding victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Martin, 50, won for the first time in only his eighth start with Hendrick Motorsports, the organization he joined in 2009 after two partial seasons with Dale Earnhardt Inc./Ginn Racing following two decades of competition with Roush Racing.
Martin, long known as one of NASCAR’s most physically fit drivers, started from the pole and led 157 of 312 laps on the way to his first win since 2005.
Martin would use the Phoenix victory as a springboard to four more triumphs that season. For the fifth time in his lengthy career, he would finish second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings — this time as bridesmaid to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.
Denny Hamlin—His Phoenix win last February helped spark a season-long resurgence following a dismal 2011. He backed up that showing with a second-place finish in the fall race and is one of only two drivers with three top-15 finishes on the newly configured PIR.
Kevin Harvick—Harvick salvaged his 2012 with a late-season victory in the desert last fall. The win was foreshadowed by a February performance that saw him average a race-best third-place running position and finish second.
Ryan Newman—Ranking fourth in the MotorsportsAnalytics.com Phoenix-specific PEER rankings is Newman, who has a pair of top-5 finishes on the new track surface and led five laps last fall.
Runs on Seven Cylinders
Dale Earnhardt Jr.—A two-time winner on the old PIR surface, Earnhardt has yet to come away with an admirable finish on the new configuration, finishing 24th, 14th and 21st in the last three races.