BUSCH: Phoenix II: Penultimate round preview

*RCR, Roush Fenway Headed For Desert Showdown in Phoenix *Turmoil: Plenty Of Drama Remains For Final Standings Slots *In The Loop: Bowyer Hopes For Phoenix Repeat Game On: Final Two Races A Chance For Roush Fenway Redemption DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

*RCR, Roush Fenway Headed For Desert Showdown in Phoenix
*Turmoil: Plenty Of Drama Remains For Final Standings Slots
*In The Loop: Bowyer Hopes For Phoenix Repeat

Game On: Final Two Races A Chance For Roush Fenway Redemption

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2007) -- Now that Carl Edwards (No. 60 World Financial Group Ford) has clinched the NASCAR Busch Series driver title, his team can let out a collective breath and focus on wins in the last two races of the season.

And to start the final sprint, his record at Phoenix International Raceway bodes well.

Edwards won the 2005 fall race from the pole and has four top fives and five top-10 finishes overall in his five races at Phoenix.

The No. 60 team also has extra motivation. Its leader, crew chief Pierre "PK" Kuettel, is a Phoenix native who would covet a win at his home track. The crew also has to swallow that it likely won't win the owner championship to go along with Edwards' driver title.

The No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team is the frontrunner for the owner crown. So the impetus for wins is paramount to the No. 60 crew these final two races.

The No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet comes to Phoenix leading the owner standings by 113 points over the No. 20 Chevy of Joe Gibbs Racing. In order to clinch the owner title, the No. 29, to be driven by Scott Wimmer at Phoenix, needs leave this weekend with a 196-point advantage over the No. 20 -- an 83-point gain.

The split title has happened only once before in NASCAR national series competition -- in 2003, Brian Vickers won the driver championship but RCR won the owner title with the driver duo of Kevin Harvick and Johnny Sauter. Jeff Burton has shared the No. 29 ride with Wimmer this year.

Either way, the battle between the two teams should be electrifying at Phoenix. The last five races at the one-mile track have been won by Roush Fenway Racing or RCR. Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Arby's Ford) is the defending race winner while Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet) won last April.

Time Ticking Away For Drivers To Avoid Top 10 Tumble

Following his fifth-place finish at Texas last Saturday, Matt Kenseth was able to slice into the lead held by Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Chevrolet) for 10th place in the standings.

Wallace -- who finished 21st at Texas dropping 22 points to Kenseth -- comes to Phoenix 52 points ahead of the defending race winner.

But Wallace isn't the only driver in a precarious position with two races to go.

Even with Kenseth on his bumper, Wallace is in a similar stalking role with ninth-place Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford). Ambrose is 37 points ahead of Wallace and has been struggling to hold on to his top-10 standing over the last four races where his average finish has been 28.3.

Despite Ambrose's slump, Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Scotch Tape Ford) is feeling some pressure from the Aussie. Biffle's eighth-place standing is secure by only 31 points over Ambrose. Biffle, like Kenseth, is a two-time winner at the one-mile track.

Meanwhile, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota), who won the pole at Phoenix for the April 2005 race, is fighting to stave off reigning series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet). Leffler's hold on third is in jeopardy as fourth-place Harvick trails by just 20 points.

In The Loop: Bowyer, Kenseth Set Up For Duel In the Desert

Brilliant. Dominant. Unstoppable.

Any of the above could be used to describe Clint Bowyer during last April's NASCAR Busch Series Race at Phoenix International Raceway.

In that event, Bowyer led 120 of the 200 laps and racked up some impressive stats in the process. In spending all 200 laps in the top 15, he earned a Driver Rating of 148.5 (a perfect Driver Rating is 150.0), an Average Running Position of 1.4 and had 52 Fastest Laps Run.

Over his five career-series races at Phoenix, Bowyer has an average Driver Rating of 110.4, an Average Running Position of 9.1 and 125 Fastest Laps Run (more than any other driver). He has also spent 81.2% of the total laps run in the top 15.

But since 2005, no driver has enjoyed more success than Matt Kenseth. Over his last four Phoenix races, he has three top fives, including a win from the Busch Pole at this race last year.

His Loop Data statistics are phenomenal: a Driver Rating of 123.9, an Average Running Position of 4.0, 90 Fastest Laps Run, and has spent 99.3% of the laps the top 15.

Also, watch for series regular Jason Leffler to shine at Phoenix. He finished seventh at this race in 2005 and among the regulars, heads most of the stat lists.

In his four Phoenix races since 2005, Leffler has a Driver Rating of 95.2, an Average Running Position of 12.6, 52 Fastest Laps Run and he has spent 60.4% of the total laps run in the top 15.

Scott Wimmer will try to keep the momentum going for the No. 29 team as it inches closer to the 2007 owner championship. But Phoenix has presented a speed bump of sorts for Wimmer.

Driving for a different team, he finished 42nd at this race last season. On the bright side, he does have a Phoenix win on his resume (2002). Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin will pilot the No. 20. Hamlin has two consecutive top-five finishes at Phoenix, and a Phoenix Driver Rating of 98.7.

-credit: nascar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Johnny Sauter , Marcos Ambrose , Scott Wimmer , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing