Phoenix II: News of note, schedule

*On The Line: Kyle Busch On The NASCAR Teleconference Keys To Victory Phoenix International Raceway Kevin Harvick: "Phoenix is another place where you need to get through the center of the corner, but you also have to have forward bite. As...

*On The Line: Kyle Busch On The NASCAR Teleconference

Keys To Victory

Phoenix International Raceway

Kevin Harvick: "Phoenix is another place where you need to get through the center of the corner, but you also have to have forward bite. As the run goes on, the car tends to get tighter in the center of the corner, so you need to keep your car turning well there and be able to stay in the throttle up off."

Crew chief Todd Berrier: "Phoenix is very similar to a (New Hampshire) or Richmond, the races are short, and you really have to have your act together when the thing starts; it's really hard on brakes. It's really similar to (New Hampshire); you have to turn well, but you have to do it all really early because it's a 300-lap race. If you're off a little bit, you're 30th, it takes a long time to get back to the front."

In The Loop: Too Close To Call Between Johnson And Gordon At Phoenix

Round 8 of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup went to Jimmie Johnson, winner of three straight and nine overall this season.

Johnson now owns a 30-point lead over Jeff Gordon with two races to go. The next obstacle: The one-mile oval in the Arizona desert, Phoenix International Raceway.

And the Loop Data statistics couldn't be more even at Phoenix. In the five Phoenix races since 2005, Johnson and Gordon are neck-and-neck in practically every key category -- which makes a duel a Homestead likely.

The Phoenix tale of the tape:

*Driver Rating: Johnson edges Gordon, 112.5 to 107.3
*Average Running Position: Johnson nips Gordon, 6.1 to 8.1
*Laps in the Top 15 (out of 1,560): Johnson leads Gordon, 1,445 to 1,384

The duo's performance at Phoenix mirrors their performance in this year's Chase. Actually, their stats over the eight Chase races couldn't be more similar -- they have each led 267 laps over the eight races, for instance.

The tale of the tape from the first eight Chase races:

*Average Finish: Gordon leads Johnson, 4.6 to 5.3
*Driver Rating: Johnson leads Gordon, 113.0 to 105.4
*Average Running Position: Johnson edges Gordon, 10.931 to 10.988
*Percentage of Laps in the Top 15: Gordon leads Johnson, 81% to 79.7%

And of those vying to play spoiler, Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) makes the strongest case to visit Victory Lane.

Harvick swept there last season, and sits atop most Loop Data statistics. He ranks first in Driver Rating (113.8), Average Running Position (5.8) and Laps in the Top 15 (93.1%). Additionally, he's notched 122 Fastest Laps Run, third-most.

Also watch for Tony Stewart this weekend. For the first time all season, Stewart failed to crack the top-10 in three consecutive races. The slide could end Sunday. Stewart finished second in two of the last three Phoenix races and has a Driver Rating of 102.6 there.

NNCS, Etc.

On The Line: Kyle Busch On Weekly NASCAR Teleconference

Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitor Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's/ CARQUEST Chevrolet) was the guest on Tuesday's weekly NASCAR Teleconference. He's fourth in the Chase standings with two races remaining in the season.

Following are some teleconference highlights:

Q. With so much going on in the Chase, you're running four events this weekend, is there a chance to get burned out; or, is this a chance that you look at to keep your mind off of everything else and be ready for Sunday?

BUSCH: Well, I think it's both ways. You can get burned out pretty easily, but I feel like I'm young enough and have a good time still and do everything I want to do. It's another way to keep your mind off it. So we're just trying to go out there and do the best I can, of course, in whatever I race, doesn't matter what it is.

Q. What do you think you have learned from Jeff and Jimmie over the years as far as achieving a level of consistency?

BUSCH: I think learning from Jeff and Jimmie, I think you learn everything, every day. There's a bunch of stuff that you learn in this deal, in this series and in this way of life. So you know, for me, it's been a learning experience my whole career. And what I've learned from Jeff and Jimmie is just consistency. And of course I've got the will to win, but for some reason, not quite able to do it as often as they are. But you know, just trying to get out there every weekend, trying to do the best we can having a good team and having good leadership. Everything like that makes it seem a little bit easier, I guess.

Looking forward to next year being able to move over to the Gibbs side and still want to keep that tradition going. I guess I've become a better points racer, per se; being able to be more consistent and get involved in less wrecked and start stirring less controversy, per se.

Q. Third in the points, is that a realistic goal?

BUSCH: Yeah, pretty much that's what we're looking towards. We want to get Hendrick Motorsports in the top three. It's a great goal and we've had great runs in the Chase. Last year we struggled and couldn't do anything right, and this year, it seems as though we can really hit it strong and run well if something doesn't happen. We got wrecked at Kansas and we got wrecked at Talladega, and then again at Atlanta we got caught there with the pit stop problem, and got mired back in traffic and had a bad finish there. If it wasn't for some of those things, we would be right there contending for this thing, too. We've led laps in almost all of the races here so far and we have been running up front in all the races. So it's been good to see that.

Montoya Maintaining Rookie Points Lead

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point standings over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford).

Montoya finished 25th at Texas while Ragan was 37th, increasing his lead to 20 points (234-214).

Manufacturers' Standings

Chevrolet continues atop the Manufacturers' standings, leading Ford by 84 points after another victory by Jimmie Johnson. Last Sunday's win gave Chevrolet 25 victories this season.

Watch Out For These Guys

This week's spotlight may shine brightest on title contenders Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, but other Chase participants also boast good Phoenix histories.

Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) lead all drivers with two wins each at Phoenix. Burton is seventh in the Chase standings; Harvick is eighth.

A reminder: Harvick also leads three significant categories in NASCAR Loop Data's pre-race statistics for Phoenix. He's tops in Average Running Position (5.803), Driver Rating (113.8) and Laps in the Top 15 (1,452).

Four other Chase drivers have one Phoenix win -- Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge).

Triple Duty Time In Phoenix

Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have the opportunity to embellish their Phoenix statistics across the board this weekend.

Both are participating in all three NASCAR events at PIR -- Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500, the NASCAR Busch Series' Arizona.Travel 200 on Saturday and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Casino Arizona 150 on Friday.

Busch also will commute to his hometown of Las Vegas to compete in Saturday night's Fall Classic Super Late Model feature at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring.

The Race: Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil

The Place: Phoenix International Raceway
The Date: Sunday, Nov. 11
The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC, 3 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN; SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Channel 128

The Track: 1-mile oval
The Distance: 500 kilometers/ 312 miles/ 312 laps

The Purse: $4,998,497

2006 Polesitter: Jeff Gordon
2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick

Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (ET): Friday -- Practice, 11:30-1 p.m. Qualifying, 3:40 p.m.; Saturday -- Practice, 9-9:50 a.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports