NASCAR rail: Subway Fresh Fit 500k at a glance

Dan Beaver

WHERE: Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.

WHEN: TV start 8 p.m. ET

BROADCAST: Fox, live on Sirius satellite radio, channel 128

THE LOWDOWN: Two drivers who struggled last week on the unrestricted, intermediate speedway at Texas should get back on track this week. Kevin Harvick complained that he was so tight in the Samsung 500 that he couldn't imagine a worse-handling car. Behind him on the track, Jeff Gordon couldn't imagine being any looser. These two drivers have been much stronger on the short, flat Phoenix International Raceway, however, with Harvick sweeping victory lane in 2006 and Gordon earning his first victory on this track in last year's edition of the Subway Fresh Fit 500k.


2007: Jeff Gordon

2006: Kevin Harvick

2005: Kurt Busch

2004: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fall)

2003: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fall)


The first thing Carl Edwards did after winning the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway was look over his shoulder to make certain the oil cooler lid was still in place. Then he climbed from his car and did the traditional back flip from the door post. His victory last week partly erased the scandal surrounding Las Vegas and elevated him back inside the top 12 in points. In two more weeks, when crew chief Bob Osborne returns from his suspension, one can truly say that incident is behind him and Edwards can set his focus on winning the championship.

1. Jeff Burton

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 9.8 in six starts

Burton's strong run early in the 2008 season is likely to continue this week since he enters Phoenix with a 14-race streak of top-15s there. However, he has not had a top-five in Arizona since 2005.

2. Kevin Harvick

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 10.0 in six starts

Harvick was perfect at Phoenix in 2006 by sweeping the Cup races and coming within a whisker of sweeping the Nationwide events as well. Last year wasn't as good, but he still swept the top 10 in Cup.

3. Kyle Busch

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 16.3 in six starts

Busch continues to mature as a driver, and Phoenix will be a great place for him to showcase that. He created his own problems in 2006 and finished in the 30s twice, but every other race there was a top-10.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 23.0 in six starts

As the track changed last week at Texas, Earnhardt was unable to keep up with the adjustments. Phoenix should provide some relief; HMS runs strong there, and Junior won back-to-back in 2003/2004.

5. Tony Stewart

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 9.8 in six starts

In this race last year, Stewart gave voice to what everyone was thinking by questioning a "debris" caution late in the race that tightened the field while he was leading. On the restart, he got shuffled to second.

6. Jimmie Johnson

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 6.0 in six starts

Johnson has the best three-year average finish among all active drivers at Phoenix, and he's never truly stumbled there. In nine career starts, he's never finished outside the top 15.

7. Denny Hamlin

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 13.8 in five starts

This flat-track master won two weeks ago at Martinsville, and he's one of the favorites to win in Phoenix. Two of his past three races there ended in third-place finishes.

8. Ryan Newman

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 20.5 in six starts

Newman has been an all-or-nothing driver at Phoenix with three top-fives but no other top-10s in 11 career starts. Luckily for his fans, one of those strong runs came last fall, when he finished fifth.

9. Greg Biffle

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 18.5 in six starts

Biffle and Newman have identical points, but the No. 12 gets the spot based on the tie-breaker. Biffle should remedy that this week because he finished better in both Phoenix races last year.

10. Carl Edwards

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 12.5 in six starts

They say success if the best revenge, and Edwards got his last Sunday. He might have to wait for his next taste of the dish served cold though: He missed the top 10 in both of last year's Phoenix events.

11. Clint Bowyer

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 18.6 in five starts

Bowyer made his Cup debut at Phoenix in 2005, and he didn't exactly set the world on fire after slipping off the lead lap and finishing 22nd. He wasn't any better last spring because he finished in the same spot.

12. Kasey Kahne

Three-year average finish at Phoenix: 21.3 in six starts

Kahne has a 54-point margin over the driver currently in 13th, and if last year is an indication, he's going to need it. He finished 31st at Phoenix in the spring and crashed out of the fall race in 40th.

Career top-fives on short, flat tracks

(Phoenix International Raceway, New Hampshire International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway)

Driver    Top-5s

Jeff Gordon,    39

Mark Martin,    27

Tony Stewart,    23

Jeff Burton,    22

Jimmie Johnson,     16

Dale Earnhardt Jr.,    15

Bobby Labonte,    14

Ryan Newman,    13

Matt Kenseth,    12

Bill Elliott,    9

Kurt Busch,    8

Kyle Busch,    7

Denny Hamlin,    7

Kevin Harvick,     6

Greg Biffle,     5

John Andretti,    3

Carl Edwards,    3

Kasey Kahne,     3

Joe Nemechek,    3

Michael Waltrip,    3

Clint Bowyer,    2

Robby Gordon,    2

Jeremy Mayfield,    2

Jamie McMurray,     2

Mike Skinner,    2

Martin Truex Jr.,    2

Brian Vickers,     2

Elliott Sadler,     1

Laps in the top 10, 2008 to date

Driver    Top-10 Laps (2008)

Carl Edwards,    1,833

Jeff Burton,    1,693

Jimmie Johnson,    1,676

Dale Earnhardt Jr.,    1,668

Tony Stewart,    1,609

Kyle Busch,    1,596

Jeff Gordon,    1,563

Clint Bowyer,    1,556

Denny Hamlin,    1,506

Kevin Harvick,    1,254

Greg Biffle,    1,234

Matt Kenseth,    1,224

Kasey Kahne,    871

Martin Truex Jr.,    835

Casey Mears,    622

David Ragan,    571

Ryan Newman,    550

Jamie McMurray,    525

Mark Martin,    417

Brian Vickers,    325

Kurt Busch,    296

Scott Riggs,    176

Bobby Labonte,    166

Juan Montoya,    157

Sam Hornish Jr.,    155