*Dodge, Toyota In Two-Race Shootout For Third In Manufacturer Race NBS, Etc. *Phoenix Homecomings, Part II: Although born near Toronto, Canada, Pierre Kuettel moved to Phoenix shortly thereafter and calls the area home. Other happy Phoenix ...
*Dodge, Toyota In Two-Race Shootout For Third In Manufacturer Race
*Phoenix Homecomings, Part II: Although born near Toronto, Canada, Pierre Kuettel moved to Phoenix shortly thereafter and calls the area home. Other happy Phoenix returns feature J.J. Yeley (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Chevrolet). He has three top-10s in six career series races at his home track and craves a win there. Also, Michael McDowell (No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota), who made his series debut last week at Texas where he finished 20th, was born in Phoenix. McDowell, 22, is scheduled to race for Michael Waltrip Racing in the final two races of the year. He made his NASCAR debut two weeks ago at Martinsville in the Craftsman Truck Series (30th) and has won four times on the ARCA circuit this season. Additionally, Stephen Leicht spent an abbreviated time as an Arizona resident, living in the city of Ahwatukee, a suburb of Phoenix between the ages of three and five. He began racing go-karts in Arizona before his family made a permanent move to Asheville, N.C.
*Harvick Stands Alone In Second: Kevin Harvick's win at Texas last week not only made him the all-time series leader in victories at the track with four, but also moved him out of a second-place tie with Jack Ingram for second on the all-time win list. Harvick's win gives him 32 in 190 races; Ingram had 31 in 274 events. Mark Martin is the career leader with 47 victories in 224 races. Harvick will join Kyle Busch (No. 5 Sta-Green/Lowe's Chevrolet) with triple-duty driving at Phoenix. Both are entered in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
*Keselowski Gaining Ground: Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) is staging a hard charge in the series' Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. Since joining JR Motorsports in mid-July, Keselowski has gone from fifth place and 66 points behind third place (then Juan Pablo Montoya) to fourth-but more importantly-only one point behind Kyle Krisiloff (No. 14 Lily/Walgreens Ford) in third. Keselowski has been one of the hottest series regulars in the season's second half, posting five top 10s and his career-best finish, a sixth-place effort last Saturday at Texas where 17 double-duty drivers were entered.
*Coleman's JGR Swan Song: Brad Coleman (No. 18 Carino's Chevrolet), the 19-year-old from Houston, Texas who fashioned solid finishes while running a partial 16-race schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing this year, makes his final start for the team before moving to Brewco Motorsports and a full-time ride in 2008. Coleman claimed his first career pole at Talladega in addition to registering three top fives and five top 10s this year. Coleman will also run a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule next year for Hall of Fame Racing, whose team owner, Tom Garfinkel, is executive vice president of the Phoenix-based Arizona Diamondbacks. The No. 18 team will also host Steve McCarty (R), who wrote the Steve Miller Band hit "Fly Like an Eagle," in their pit on Saturday.
Phoenix: Jason Leffler will have a busy schedule this week at Phoenix, competing in four races in three days. He will run the USAC Midget and Silver Crown races on Thursday night, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night and the Arizona.Travel 200 on Saturday afternoon. ... This Veterans Day weekend the No. 88 U.S. NAVY team will honor the casualties and survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor with a special Pearl Harbor Survivors Association decal on the car. On Dec. 7, 1941, 2,390 U.S. personnel were killed and 1,178 were wounded in the attack. The association was formed in 1958 with the goal to "Remember Pearl Harbor -- Keep America Alert." Also Team Rensi's cars -- the No. 35 McDonald's Ford of Bobby Hamilton Jr. and the No. 25 FreeCreditReport.com Ford of Richard Johns - will adorn a special logo for a non-profit organization, Freedom Is Not Free, aimed at "aiding wounded service members, their families and the families of the fatally wounded."
The Director's Take: Phoenix
Phoenix is a track of compromises.
At a track like Hometead, where both ends are equally shaped, teams can pick one setup and put it on the car.
But at a track like Phoenix where the radius of the corner and the banking is different on each end, some teams set the car up to be very good in Turns 1 and 2 -- and it is what it is in 3 and 4 -- or vice versa. Or, they will compromise and find something that will work on both ends.
Phoenix almost races like it has a fifth turn due to the dogleg on the backstretch, so the teams will be working on balancing the car to get the driver comfortable.
One of the unique features of racing at Phoenix is the start time. Due to the proximity to sunset, it can be tough for the drivers going into Turn 1. They'll use either a tinted tear-off on their helmet or they'll put tape on the inside of the winshield to peel off as the sun sets and the race progresses.
Showdown Out West Between Dodge, Toyota; Ford Seeks Third Straight Phoenix Fall Win
With two races left in the season, it's a two-manufacturer race for third in the final Bill France Performance Cup rankings. Dodge has a nine-point led over Toyota for the third-place spot heading to Phoenix.
Dodge has one win at Phoenix -- Jamie McMurray's 2004 victory. Toyota's first series start at the track was last April when its three drivers placed 10th, 12th and 18th. Dodge had two divers in the top 18 last spring. Those two manufacturers also have the stout record of Ford has at Phoenix to contend with -- six wins in the previous 11 races. Clint Bowyer won last April in a Chevy.
Chevrolet claimed its series-leading 14th title back in September and Ford has held steady in second for the bulk of the season. Kevin Harvick's win at Texas Motor Speedway last Saturday was the 20th for Chevrolet this season, the seventh time in its 26-year NASCAR Busch Series tenure that it has reached the 20-victory plateau.
Pontiac, with 21 wins in the inaugural series season in 1982, is the only other manufacturer to eclipse 20 wins in a season. Chevy holds the record with 24 in 1999.
Up Next: Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
The final race of the 2007 season -- and the final race for the series sponsor, Anheuser-Busch's Busch Beer brand after 26 years -- takes center stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 17. The broadcast will begin at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Carl Edwards will officially be crowned as the 19th -- and last -- NASCAR Busch Series champion, while the series owner title could still be on the line between the No. 29 RCR Chevrolet and the No. 20 JGR Chevy.
A pair of former series champions holds the win and pole marks at Homestead. Florida native Joe Nemechek, the 1992 series champion, has three wins, while 2000 champ Jeff Green's two poles are the standard.
Matt Kenseth, whose 23 wins are sixth all-time in series history, is the defending race winner while two-time series champion Kevin Harvick sat on the pole last November.
The Race: Arizona.Travel 200
The Place: Phoenix International Raceway The Date: Nov. 10, 20071
The Time: 4:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 4 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1-mile D-shaped oval
Race Purse: $1,408,944
2006 Winner: Matt Kenseth
2006 Pole: Matt Kenseth
Friday -- Practice, 10-11:20 a.m.; Rookie Practice, 1:05-1:30 p.m.; Final Practice, 1:35-2:35 p.m. Saturday -- Qualifying, 10:05 a.m. (impound).