Friday, November 13, 2009

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Phoenix's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Preview

With only two race to go, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series streaks into the Arizona desert to wage battle on the tight one-mile oval of Phoenix International Raceway. Coming off the unpredictable race last Sunday in Texas, the Chase for the Cup championship has become a fight again following the race turmoil that presented itself onto Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Chevrolet. Under the most pressing attacks of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon, the spread between the three drivers are 112 points. Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart remains in mathematical contention but require an unrealistic breakdown of the key Hendrick Motorsports cars to make the 2009 championship a realistic possibility.

As much as the Sprint Cup Chase has captured headlines, Phoenix is the second to last chance for drivers to prove themselves before the season ends. One time championship contenders in the 2009 Chase for the Cup Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Edwards. Having entering the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2007, Montoya has become a sensation through the second-half of the Sprint Cup season establishing himself and the #42 Target Chevrolet as a consistent front-runner. Having won 8 races in 2008, Carl Edwards have only 2 races left to prevent going winless in the #99 Aflac Ford 2009 season. Also noteworthy in this category is Dale Earnhardt Jr who is looking to shake the monkey off his back on the Phoenix racetrack which has been historically beneficial to the Kannapolis native. The past few months have allowed moments of excellence to shine from the #88 Chevrolet Impala only to be followed by a miserable finish as result of late race problems.

A track very favourable to Hendrick Motorsports, the Chevrolet juggernaut has swept the past 5 Sprint Cup series events at Phoenix International Raceway. Of those, 3 wins were captured by Jimmie Johnson's #48 team. 2nd place Mark Martin, just 73 points behind Johnson, enters Phoenix advantaged with most recent Cup series winner from the early spring race. Even more of a streak, Chevrolets has won past 8 Sprint Cup outings at Phoenix International Raceway.

The penultimate round of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is set to start at 3:15PM Eastern time.

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