Now that the Super Bowl of Racing has come to an end, it's time to move on to the rest of the NASCAR season, starting today in Phoenix.
With so many of the bigger names in the sport being involved in the big crash at Daytona last week, guys like Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson have their work cut out for them this afternoon in the desert. The last NASCAR race run in Phoenix was won by Carl Edwards, who is definitely a guy to keep an eye on this afternoon as well.
Here's a little bit from our friends at NASCAR Ranting and Raving have to say about the race:
Edwards is the current points leader, one tally ahead of Gilliland and Labonte. Edwards has one win at Phoenix, a fuel mileage gamble in November, but don't let that fool you. The Roush-Fenway driver has been dominant in the desert for several stretches during his career.
Edwards has five top fives and nine top tens with an average finish of 11.8. His driver rating of 101.7 is the second best in the league and has 2,777 laps in the top 15, good for fifth-most in the circuit.
Phoenix is the first of seven flat track races teams will see in 2011 and no driver was better at them in 2010 than Kevin Harvick. The RCR driver had an average finish of 5.6 on flats and captured five top fives and six top tens in 2010 (Seven starts). While consistent, Harvick only led ten times during that stretch and has an average career finish of 14.4.
With all due respect to Dover and Martinsville, Phoenix may be Jimmie Johnson's best track. The defending champion enters Phoenix having four wins, 10 top fives, 13 top tens and one pole. He carries an average race-finish of 4.9 and has a Cup-best 122.6 driver rating at the one-mile oval.
Other good picks include Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. Martin has 12 career top-five finishes. Gordon has an average finish of 10.4 and Burton carries a Cup-high 590 green flag passes. The win should come from one of these seven drivers.
The race will get underway at 2 PM Central time on Fox.