Race: Subway Fresh Fit 500
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Location: Avondale, Ariz.
Specs: 1-mile D-shaped oval; Banking/Frontstretch: 3°; Banking/Turns 1 and 2: Variable (10°-11°); Banking/Dogleg: Variable (10°-11°); Banking/Turn 4: Variable (8°-9°)
2011 Winners: Jeff Gordon (Feb.); Kasey Kahne (Nov.)
Track Qualifying Record: 137.279 mph (Carl Edwards, 2011)
Race Record: 118.132 mph (Tony Stewart, 1999)
From the Spotter’s Stand
Repaved and reconfigured during the 2011 season, the unpredictable 1-mile oval in the desert ended a pair of winless droughts.
Jeff Gordon rose from the ashes at Phoenix in February, ending a 66-race winless streak. With nine laps to go, the 24 car passed Kyle Busch and held on for Gordon’s first checkers since April 2009 in Texas.
Then, in the penultimate race of the Chase, Kasey Kahne snapped an 81-race winless run that stretched all the way back to September 2009 in Atlanta, edging Chase leaders Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart — who led a race-high 160 laps. The win was especially impressive considering Kahne’s contractual status with Red Bull Racing and the organization’s uncertain future in the sport.
Crew Chief’s Take
“Phoenix has changed a lot since the repaving and reconfiguration. Being one mile in length, we consider this a short track. This makes the brake package very important. With the new surface, tires do not wear out like the old Phoenix. So this makes pit strategy important in keeping track position, as teams may not change tires with every caution.”
Classic Moments at PIR
The Chevy Lumina made its final trip to NASCAR’s Victory Lane in the October 1994 Slick 50 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Terry Labonte, in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports, was in complete control, leading 104 of the final 105 laps in his No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevy to notch his third win of the season. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt was in complete control of the standings, cruising to championship No. 7 by a 440-plus-point margin.
Although he would finish 34th, a 36-year-old by the name of Ron Hornaday Jr. led the first lap in a NASCAR touring series race of his career. Hornaday and car owner Wayne Spears emerged from the Winston West Series to participate in limited Cup races west of the Mississippi River until Hornaday’s star rose the following year when he won six of 20 races in the Trucks Series’ inaugural campaign.