NASCAR PIR Spring 2014

Brian Minto

 

If you follow it, you’ve no doubt realized that the second event of the 2014 NASCAR series happened this weekend in Phoenix. There are several interesting storylines that could be followed. The weather was kind of like Daytona – cold, wet and stormy. The track turned fifty years old. Kevin

Harvick’s Car 4 convincingly won by steadily working his way forward through the faster qualifiers. With each restart, he used his advantage to assertively retake the lead and gain a gap over the rest of the field.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Car 88 continued its strong run, also working its way steadily working its way to the front, finally finished a solid second. No big incidents but Danica will not be happy. The results are shown below and it was televised by Fox, so I will not try to rehash it entirely.

Phoenix is lucky enough to have two NASCAR premier events each year involving the Sprint Cup series. The spring event is the second of the season and follows Daytona by one week. The autumn event is the second last event, being just prior to the Homestead, Florida finale, so it is also supremely important for that current year and posturing for the following year.

The Daytona and Phoenix tracks are extraordinarily different, so the perception is likely that teams suffering at Daytona will find results in Phoenix. That could be boundless optimism. None of the NASCAR tracks are simple but those two tracks are extremely different and difficult.

Phoenix International Raceway is actually located in Avondale – one of several cities that make up metropolitan Phoenix. It is fifty years old this year and does not shown its age at all. It sits there plunked in a notch of several small mountains southwest of the centre of the city. It is only used for a few events each year, so it likely looks like a huge forlorn white elephant most of the year but, by golly, it sure is bright and pretty when race day comes.

The tickets are sort of reasonable. The concessions are pretty darned good. The parking lot and traffic flow work really, really well. The track itself is smallish – it’s a mile course of what looks like five corners, all turning left, none of the corners are very similar to each other, the track is relatively flat and the apron/infield at the elbow on the back straight-a-way is paved.

The front straight is slightly downhill. The back straight is nowhere near straight and it is significantly uphill. The front straight is not really straight either.

The elbow on the back straight is probably considered the most significant feature of the track, except for maybe, its lack of big-time banking. The result with cars going this fast is that, effectively, the entire course is a left-hand turn with the radius changing constantly. Add 43 cars with oodles of power, good grip and great driving, you get 26 second lap times with the fastest cars just a half second faster than the slowest cars.
Top speeds may seem slow by comparison with larger tracks but don’t be fooled – this racing is intense and it is a thrill to see in person.

NASCAR allows the drivers to use the apron on the back-straight and I suppose that it looks like a wonderful cheeky shortcut but it does get often gain what the driver hoped. The racing is fast and very intense, resembling a combination of the best parts of oval racing, road racing and autocross. Collisions seldom involve the walls. There were some near misses in the pit lane. Being framed by mountains and grandstands, the spectators all notice one thing – wow, this is loud, wildly loud. You don’t just hear it, you feel it and it’s tiring. When the field gets spread out, about every half second a car goes by. If you listen you can hear the difference between the makes of the cars.

Like Daytona, the weather in Phoenix was cool and wet. Most of the rain fell Saturday afternoon and evening. Some local flooding resulted. The Sprint Cup race began in mostly sunny conditions and ended pretty overcast. The temperatures were cool, so the grip and power were excellent.

The fastest six qualifiers used the first half dozen laps to develop a small but important gap over the rest of the field which had somewhat separated into two packs. As laps went on the Johnson car began slipping back, the Earnhardt car moved up, the Gordon car seemed to improve, the Harvick car started to look fast and composed.

The racing was a bit processional, in that the cars strung out and more or less held their positions except for minor bumping and passing. Danica spun twice, right in front of my seating area – once from contact, once from something that looked self-inflicted – I am sure that there’s a story in both spins. There were quite few cautions that appeared to not come from collisions. There is no public address system anywhere that could possibly heard over that amount of engine noise, so you had to divert your attention to the big screens in the infield to see what was happening if you did not have the Racing Radios headsets to protect and inform you. In the section where I sat, I would guess that half the spectators had the headset racing radios.

In looking at the results, I was surprised that the winner won on $260000 of a $5000000 purse. The winner got only 5% of the prize money! Kevin Harvick’s victory burnouts were absolutely sensational. The fan favourite, Dale Earnhardt Jr really put on a show for them and he maintained his momentum from Daytona. The parity amongst the teams is making it look like a really great race season. If you go to a race, take ear protection. The event was big and beautiful. The racing was top shelf. PIR looks ready for many more decades. I am looking forward to the fall race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Number 2
Unofficial Race Results for the 10th Annual The Profit On CNBC 500 Presented
By Small Business Fueling America – Sunday, March 2, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway – Avondale, AZ – 1 Mile Paved
Total Race Length – 312 Laps – 312 Miles – Purse: $5,115,165
Leader
Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Pts Bns Driver Rating Winnings Status Tms Laps
1 13 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s Chevrolet 312 48 5 149.9 $260,048 Running 4 224
2 5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 312 42 122.5 $172,240 Running
3 1 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 312 42 1 115.9 $180,673 Running 2 3
4 2 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 312 41 1 124.3 $159,641 Running 3 71
5 17 24 Jeff Gordon Pepsi MAX Chevrolet 312 40 1 108.1 $159,326 Running 1 4
6 4 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet 312 38 111.8 $152,266 Running
7 15 31 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 312 38 1 98.8 $104,380 Running 1 6
8 23 99 Carl Edwards SUBWAY Ford 312 37 1 96.5 $117,330 Running 1 1
9 7 18 Kyle Busch Skittles Toyota 312 35 101.5 $132,871 Running
10 3 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna / Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet 312 34 93.5 $122,444 Running
11 11 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 312 33 78.4 $101,430 Running
12 19 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot / Husky Toyota 312 32 90.0 $130,266 Running
13 14 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 312 32 1 83.2 $118,671 Running 1 1
14 18 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 312 30 71.2 $108,513 Running
15 9 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 312 29 88.0 $119,066 Running
16 20 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 312 28 81.7 $114,963 Running
17 6 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 312 27 80.8 $120,480 Running
18 21 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. NOS Ford 312 26 62.7 $115,605 Running
19 12 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 312 25 79.9 $87,480 Running
20 8 42 Kyle Larson # Clorox Chevrolet 312 24 74.7 $108,200 Running
21 29 9 Marcos Ambrose MAC Tools Ford 311 23 62.6 $105,250 Running
22 27 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 311 22 66.4 $106,538 Running
23 22 27 Paul Menard Pittsburgh Paints / Menards Chevrolet
311 21 68.1 $105,594 Running
24 24 3 Austin Dillon # American Ethanol Chevrolet 311 20 55.1 $123,466 Running
25 16 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 311 19 67.1 $110,680 Running
26 25 47 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Fraganzia Chevrolet 310 18 64.4 $93,938 Running
27 31 26 Cole Whitt # GEAR Speed Stick Toyota 310 17 44.2 $74,355 Running
28 30 34 David Ragan Farm Rich Ford 310 16 53.5 $99,588 Running
29 28 38 David Gilliland Love’s Travel Stops Ford 309 16 1 52.4 $96,863 Running 1 2
30 43 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet
309 14 46.3 $96,002 Running
31 39 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 308 13 38.5 $76,790 Running
32 32 33 Brian Scott(i) Whitetail Chevrolet 308 0 42.9 $76,105 Running
33 26 95 Michael McDowell K Love Ford 307 11 42.5 $73,480 Running
34 41 7 Michael Annett # Accell Construction Chevrolet 307 10 43.2 $73,355 Running
35 34 83 Ryan Truex # Borla Exhaust Toyota 307 9 34.1 $73,230 Running
36 33 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 306 8 51.7 $81,075 Running
37 37 35 Blake Koch(i) MDS Transport Ford 306 0 30.0 $72,946 Running
38 40 32 Travis Kvapil Ask More – Get More Ford 302 6 30.2 $68,380 Running
39 10 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 292 5 73.6 $64,380 Engine
40 38 66 Joe Nemechek(i) Land Castle Title Toyota 292 0 25.9 $68,380 Running
41 35 23 Alex Bowman # Dr Pepper Toyota 230 3 40.6 $56,380 Brakes
42 36 30 Parker Kligerman # Toyota 226 2 29.4 $52,380 Engine
43 42 87 Morgan Shepherd(i) Morris / Hardwick / Schneider Toyota
28 0 25.3 $48,880 Brakes
Race Comments:
Kevin Harvick won the 10th Annual The Profit on CNBC 500 presented by Small Business Fueling America, his 24th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Prior to the green flag to start the event, the following car dropped to the rear of the field for the reason indicated: #51 (back-up car).
Failed to Qualify:
(3) 98 Josh Wise, 40 Landon Cassill(i), 77 Dave Blaney.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 51 Mins, 23 Secs.
Average Speed:
109.229 MPH
Margin of Victory:
0.489 Seconds
Caution Flags:
8 for 38 laps: Laps: 37-40 (Competition Caution [33]); 163-169 (Debris (Frontstretch) [55]); 172-175 (#10, 32, 51 Accident (Turn 1) [15]); 188-191 (#10

Spinout (Turn 2) [5]); 248-251 (Debris (Backstretch) [99]); 279-282 (Debris (Turn 1) [13]); 287-291 (#38 Spinourt (Backstretch) [17]); 298-303 (#41 Fluid on track

[42]).
Lead Changes:
14 among 8 drivers: B. Keselowski 0; J. Logano 1-37; D. Gilliland 38-39; B. Keselowski 40; J. Logano 41-73; K. Harvick 74-110; B. Keselowski 111-112;

K. Harvick 113-190; J. Logano 191; K. Harvick 192-236; C. Edwards 237; J. Gordon 238-241; R. Newman 242-247; C. Bowyer 248; K. Harvick 249-312.
Top 16 Driver Points: (1) D. Earnhardt Jr. 90;(2) B. Keselowski 84;(3) J. Gordon 80;(4) K. Harvick 79;(5) J. Johnson 78;(6) J. Logano 75;(7) M. Kenseth 70;(8) D.

Hamlin 68;(9) C. Edwards 65;(10) G. Biffle 64;(11) C. Mears 64;(12) J. Mcmurray 64;(13) R. Stenhouse Jr. 63;(14) Kyle Busch 61;(15) R. Newman 60;(16) A. Dillon # 56.
3M Lap Leader : Kevin Harvick, #4 224 Laps
American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award : Kevin Harvick, #4
Coors Light Pole Award
: Brad Keselowski, #2 139.384 mph Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” : Joey Logano, #22
Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race : Hendrick Engines, #4 Mobil 1 Driver of the Race : Kevin Harvick, #4
Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race : Carl Edwards, #99 crew chief Jimmy Fennig, 0.236 seconds
Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap : Carl Edwards, #99
Sunoco Rookie of the Race : Kyle Larson, #42
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race: Mar. 9, 2014 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications @ P.O. Box 2875, Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2875

Cumulative Report – Lap 312
Phoenix International Raceway
10th Annual The Profit on CNBC 500 presented by Small Business Fueling
UNOFFICIAL
Provided by NASCAR Statistics- Sunday, 3/2/2014 @ 6:39 PM Eastern UNOFFICIAL
Lap Running Order (1-20)
Speed Rng Out OLL

~ Brian Minto

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