Phoenix II: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Poised to Capture NASCAR Modern Era Single-Season Win Record at Phoenix International Raceway; Jimmie Johnson Leads Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings Heading in to Checker Auto Parts 500 Kevin Harvick Looking to Sweep 2006 Races at ...

Team Chevy Poised to Capture NASCAR Modern Era Single-Season Win Record at Phoenix International Raceway; Jimmie Johnson Leads Chase for the Nextel Cup Standings Heading in to Checker Auto Parts 500
Kevin Harvick Looking to Sweep 2006 Races at One-Mile Oval

Avondale, AZ - The No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS driver Tony Stewart's victory at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday tied Chevy's NASCAR Modern Era single-season win record at 22 trips to victory lane. The mark was first set in 1980 and again tied in 2004. The two-time champion's win was the 595th all-time victory for Chevy in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (NNCS) competition and the 471st in the Modern Era.

A win in this Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) will give the Bowtie brand a new record, unequaled by any other manufacturer. Team Chevy has scored six victories at PIR including four of the past five races.

Stewart also completed the second consecutive weekend sweep for Chevy drivers. Chevrolet drivers won all three races at Texas Motor Speedway with Clint Bowyer, No. 46 Jack Daniel's Silverado, claiming his career-first victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race Friday night followed by Kevin Harvick's win Saturday in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) race, his ninth of the season in the No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Monte Carlo SS. The previous weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway was also a sweep for Team Chevy.

Chevrolet drivers have won seven of the eight 2006 Chase races. Seven of the top-eight drivers in the Chase are members of Team Chevy.

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, leads the Chase for the Nextel Cup to PIR by 17 points after his second consecutive runner-up NNCS finish. Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports Team have hit their stride of consistency in the Chase.

Johnson is the only driver to post seven top-ten starts in the eight Chase races in 2006. He is the only Chase driver with four top-five finishes in 2006. Johnson has led in six of the eight Chase races - the most of any driver. Johnson has earned 40 lap-leader bonus points - the most of any driver in the "Chase."

Johnson is still looking for his first win at PIR but still counts it as a good track for he and his team.

"It's always been a good track for me," said Johnson. "Our short track program and mile program have been getting stronger and stronger, so I carry a lot of confidence going in. And it's close to home. So I get excited for going back.

"In the race, Turns 3 and 4 at times have second lanes. Turns 1 and 2 definitely have outside lanes so you can work on someone and try passing him. I would love another lane or two at that race track. If there was progressive banking in 3 and 4 it would really help that. But I still think for a mile race track it puts on a great race. It's more competitive than what we have at Loudon and I'm excited to go out there. I think we'll perform well. Every race track has it's own area that you've got to focus on so I still end up giving 100 percent if it's Darlington or Martinsville or Talladega or Phoenix - they're all different disciplines but you've really got to focus hard on the right things."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Reese's Monte Carlo SS, holds the hot hand heading to PIR. He is in position to sweep not only the 2006 NNCS races at the 1.0-mile oval in the desert southwest of Phoenix, but the NBS races as well. Should Harvick win the Arizona Travel 200, he will tie the all-time NBS single-season win record at 10 victories.

Harvick sits fifth in the Chase standings heading to PIR, 105 points behind Johnson.

"Phoenix is one of the tracks that I really look forward to racing at," said Harvick. "We won there back in April and have always run really well. Our program is much better now than we were when we raced out there last year, so I am really excited about this weekend.

"I am really looking forward to Phoenix. I feel very good about our chances Sunday and it's nice to be heading there coming off a third place finish last weekend. Obviously when you go back to a track where you have won at previous, you definitely go there with added confidence. We are not taking the same car we won in, but we are taking the same car from our win at New Hampshire."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, climbed to third in the Chase standings after rallying from a brush with the wall to finish sixth at Texas. He now rides just 78 points behind Johnson with two races remaining. Junior is one of four Team Chevy Chase contenders with victories at PIR. He has two wins, four top-five and four top-10 finishes in eight career starts.

Sitting in fourth position in the Chase standings, 80 points down to the leader, Raybestos Rookie contender Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS, continues to be the exciting surprise of the Chase. The Checker Auto Parts 500 will be Hamlin's third start at PIR with his best finish thus far being a 13th place.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, rides sixth in the standings heading to PIR. Like Texas last weekend, Phoenix is one of only three active tracks on the NNCS circuit that the four-time champion has yet to take a trip to victory lane. His ninth place finish last Sunday put him 157 points out of the lead in the battle for the championship.

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, lost a front tire and made heavy contact with the wall putting him 60 laps down to the leaders at Texas. The 38th place finish left him seventh in the standings, 184 points out of the lead.

Burton has two previous wins at PIR and has six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 15 career starts.

Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS, has laid down an impressive record in just three starts at PIR. He has one win and two top-10 finishes in NNCS competition. His fourth place finish at Texas moved him to eighth in the Chase standings, 233 points behind Johnson.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports