Friday, November 11, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Phoenix Gets Underway

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Nov. 11, 2016
Volume X, Edition CCII


What to Watch: Friday

- Today is a very busy day at Phoenix International Raceway.  All three of NASCAR's National Series are supposed to be on-track, culminating with Sprint Cup Qualifying and the Camping World Truck Series' Lucas Oil 150 later tonight.

Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page@Frontstretch as well for updates!
This weekend's TV Schedule can be found

Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff

Kyle Larson Leads Lone Friday Cup Practice at Phoenix

Kyle Larson was fastest in opening Sprint Cup Practice Friday afternoon with a lap of 25.802 seconds (139.524 mph).  Joey Logano was the fastest Chaser in second, followed by Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr.  Truex hit the wall in the final moments of practice, forcing him to go to a backup car.  Read more

William Byron Quickest in Opening Phoenix Truck Practice

On Friday, William Byron was fastest in the first Truck practice at Phoenix International Raceway with a lap of 26.479 seconds (135.957 mph).  Ben Rhodes was second fastest, followed by Noah Gragson, Matt Crafton and Daniel Suarez.  Read more

Frontstretch Folio: Can-Am 500k
by Phil Allaway
This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Arizona for the penultimate race of the season.  Coverage of the Can-Am 500k begins with a one-hour edition of Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m.  The green flag should fly around 2:45.  Radio coverage will be provided by local MRN radio affiliates and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

Last year's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500k at "Jeff Gordon Raceway" played out somewhat similarly to last weekend's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.  Rains resulted in the start of the race being delayed for six hours.  As a result, a day race ended up being run at night.

A crash involving Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Joey Gase occurred during a round of pit stops, bringing out the race's second caution.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was on pit road and managed to beat leader Jeff Gordon to the line to stay on the lead lap.  He inherited the lead when everyone else stopped.  During the yellow, rains returned to Sonoran Desert which forced NASCAR to call the race complete with 219 laps of the scheduled 312 complete.  Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ended up taking his third win of 2015 as a result.  Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.  Jeff Gordon ended up sixth.

Kevin Harvick is the winningest driver at Phoenix International Raceway all-time with eight victories on the tricky tri-oval.  Jimmie Johnson has four victories in his own right, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has three.

Beyond those three drivers, five more drivers have two victories in Phoenix.  Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards are the only active ones to accomplish this (Mark Martin, Davey Allison and Jeff Burton have also won twice, but all three won at Phoenix prior to the track being renovated).

Track Facts
Track / Race Length: 1 mile tri-oval, 312 laps (312 miles, 502.32 kilometers)
Banking: 10-11 degrees in Turns 1-2, 10-11 degrees in the backstretch dogleg, 8-9 degrees in Turns 3-4

Frontstretch: 1,179 ft., banked 3 degrees

Backstretch: 1,551 ft., banked 9-11 degrees

Grandstand Seating: 51,000

Pit Road Speed: 45 mph
Pace Car Speed: 50 mph
Opened: 1964 (first Cup race in 1988)




Pre-Race Schedule:

Practice No. 1: Friday, November 11, 1:30 - 2:55 p.m. on NBCSN

Qualifying: Friday, November 11, 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Practice No. 2: Saturday, November 12, 3 - 3:55 p.m. on NBCSN

Happy Hour: Saturday, November 5, 6 - 6:50 p.m. on NBCSN

Say What?!

"Phoenix is a really flat racetrack where you want to have the freshest tires possible, but track position is really important. A lot of what happens at Phoenix depends on the weather and how hot it is – how much fall-off and how you have to manage track position throughout the day. The cooler the day is, the more you have to manage your track position. The hotter the day, the more you have to manage the fall-off. Better-handling cars will have a little easier time of getting through the field.

"I feel like that can be gone at any point. That's the hardest thing about having success. You have to have an open mind to try new things to keep moving forward. If you don't have an open mind or are not willing to try a fresh approach, then it will get stagnant. You're going to become stale and get left behind. As we go to Phoenix, we have to look at the things that we've done well. Obviously, we've done a lot of good things. We look at the race tape and pay attention to the lines and braking, steering, throttle and all the things that you have access to and you try to mimic that immediately when you get on the racetrack. The hard part about our sport is the conditions are never the same. You never know if it's going to be 100 degrees or if it's going to be 50 degrees. That makes a big difference on the balance of the car, how much downforce it makes and how much tape you can run on the front. There are all kinds of things to navigate through once you get there. There are a lot of good racecar drivers and lots of circumstances that could play out to have things go wrong. You go there with a fresh start like you've never won there before and try to get the car dialed in." - Kevin Harvick

"Phoenix is going to be like every other race weekend for this Lowe's team. We are heading there to win. There is no such thing as a 'throw away' race in my mind. If my pit crew has more exposure in racing for the win, they have more pressure on them. We could all use practice with pressure because Homestead will bring a lot of pressure. So pressure is good for us. We will be racing for every point we can race for, even if we are locked in. We will race our race and let everyone else race theirs." - Jimmie Johnson

"I consider Phoenix a short track. And even though I like short-track racing, it's not really a place I've enjoyed racing so far. I want to like Phoenix. I like how different it is. I like that it's a challenging place. We've just never run really well there. And, until you go to a racetrack and have a great run and get some speed out of it, you don't really seem to enjoy it as much. It's not that I'm not optimistic going there. We have only one way to go from our run earlier in the season, so we can only be better this time around. We obviously want to finish out this season with some good results and I definitely think we can do that.

"The weather should be nice this time around. We seem to be dealing with weather a lot lately, and hopefully we're done with that. Maybe Phoenix stays the desert it's supposed to be when we get there." - Chris Buescher

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Zach Catanzareti


Q: Robert Pressley had an up-and-down 2001 season for Jasper Racing.  Phoenix was no exception as Pressley tied his best qualifying effort of the season (fifth) and kept himself on the lead lap all day.  However, he walked out of Phoenix with a terrible finish.  What happened?

Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Q:  Here's a non-Phoenix related question.  In 1989, Dale Earnhardt had an incident in practice that forced him to drive a Lowes Foods-sponsored Pontiac in the Goody's 300 at Daytona.  This wasn't your everyday crash.  What happened?

A: Earnhardt got loose in the tri-oval and bounced off L.D. Ottinger's spun Pontiac.  The contact allowed air to get under Earnhardt's Monte Carlo.  The car flipped upside down and actually hit the catchfence before coming to rest at the exit of the tri-oval.  A series of photos from Mike Chakon, Jr. has surfaced from this crash.  Since the wreck happened in a practice session, there is no video of it.

As you can see in the pictures, Earnhardt's No. 3 was thrashed.  However, he walked away from the crash.  Practice was halted in order for the fence to be repaired.  Ottinger was ok and his Pontiac was reparable.  Unfortunately, that car was likely written off in the race when he nearly rolled it in a multi-car crash where New Jersey-based Dirt Modified racer Brett Hearn flipped exiting turn 2.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races from Phoenix.  In addition, we'll also cover other news that breaks.

We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action at Phoenix International Raceway.
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