Track length: 1 mile
Banking: Turns 1 and 2 — 11 degrees; Turns 3 and 4 — 9 degrees;
frontstretch — 3 degrees; backstretch — 9 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
Backstretch: 1,551 feet
Race length: 312 laps
Grandstand seating capacity: 76,812
Phoenix International Raceway is a one-mile track. Even though it hosts two races a year, the events are quite different. In the spring, the boys run at night. It’s so early in the season, everyone has a chance to compete for the Chase, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Scott Speed (kidding.)
In the fall, the race takes place during the day. Since it’s the next-to-last-race of the season, you get an odd mix of drivers. Some teams are messing around with 2010 setups. Others go balls-out trying to get a win. Then there are those protecting points for a title or a trip to the banquet. Chase drivers don’t want to finish 39th like Jimmie Johnson did at Texas.
As for the track itself, many will take their short track setups to Phoenix for one final ride. Since Phoenix is in the middle of a desert, things tend to get a little toasty out there so, so expect to see cars get loose, which could cause some fun in tight, flat spaces.
It’s tough for teams to do specialized adjustments because the banking is different all across the track. Teams will excel in some parts of the track and struggle in others. For reasons beyond me, there aren’t a ton of cautions at Phoenix; so, those drivers who enjoy long runs like racing here.
Here are some random facts to impress your friends with this Sunday, thanks to the track’s Web site.
- Jimmie Johnson has the best average finish at Phoenix and has won there three times. He is also the defending race champion.
- Mark Martin won the spring race. He has the second-best average finish, followed by Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Marcos Ambrose. Yeah, surprised me too.
- Tickets are still available, some for $25. Yes Mr. France, the sport is doing just fine.
- Arizona law prohibits fans from bringing alcohol to the track. No wonder there are $25 seats available.
- The track also won’t let you bring umbrellas to the track. It’s Phoenix. Who owns an umbrella?
- The track opened in 1964. It hosted its first race in 1988. Be patient, Kentucky and Nashville. Your times will come.
- Arizona Sen. John McCain will act as the Grand Marshal.
- SPEED has a cantina at the track. It is hosting a 1980s party Saturday night. Hairforce will be playing.
- Somewhere Cale Yarborough is shaking his head in disgust.