NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Subway Fresh Fit 500 Preview

From The Sports Network

DATE: Sunday, March 4th
SITE: Phoenix International Raceway (1964) -- Avondale, Arizona
TRACK: one-mile oval - 1,179 feet (Frontstretch); 1,551 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 55,000 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNOUNCERS: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 3 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 3:14 p.m. (ET)
RUNNER-UP: Kyle Busch
POLE WINNER: Carl Edwards (Finished 28th)
LAPS: 312
MILES: 312 (500 kilometers)
QUALIFYING RECORD: Carl Edwards, 2011 (137.279 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Tony Stewart, 1999 (118.132 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $4,929,477 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $230,586; 2nd Place - $210,016; 3rd Place - $175,961
2011 Finish
1Jeff Gordon206Kasey Kahne3
2Kyle Busch47Tony Stewart18
3Jimmie Johnson288Kurt Busch2
4Kevin Harvick179A.J. Allmendinger15
5Ryan Newman1410Dale Earnhardt Jr10
2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500 Facts and Figures
TIME OF RACE: 3 hours, 1 minute, 49 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 102.961 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.137 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 8 for 43 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 28 among 12 drivers
POLE WINNER: Carl Edwards (137.279 m.p.h. - track record)
Past Subway Fresh Fit 500 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Jeff Gordon (20th) -- Chevrolet -- 102.961 m.p.h.
2010 -- Ryan Newman (14th) -- Chevrolet -- 99.372 m.p.h. (600-kilometer race)
2009 -- Mark Martin (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 108.042 m.p.h.
2008 -- Jimmie Johnson (7th) -- Chevrolet -- 103.292 m.p.h.
2007 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 107.710 m.p.h.
2006 -- Kevin Harvick (15th) -- Chevrolet -- 107.063 m.p.h.
2005 -- Kurt Busch (2nd) -- Ford -- 102.707 m.p.h.
NOTE: Previously called Subway Fresh 500 (2005-06), Subway Fresh Fit 500
(2007-09). Race changed from 500 kilometers to 600 (2010), and then from
600 kilometers to 500 (2011).
Past Subway Fresh Fit 500 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Carl Edwards -- 28th
2010 -- AJ Allmendinger -- 15th
2009 -- Mark Martin -- 1st
2008 -- Ryan Newman -- 43rd
2007 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
2006 -- Kyle Busch -- 36th
2005 -- Jeff Gordon -- 12th
Last Race Results
RACE: Daytona 500 (February 26th)
SITE: Daytona International Speedway -- Daytona Beach, Florida
MILES: 202
LAPS: 505
WINNER: Matt Kenseth
RUNNER-UP: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
THIRD: Greg Biffle
FOURTH: Denny Hamlin
FIFTH: Jeff Burton
POLE WINNER: Carl Edwards (Finished 8th)
TIME OF RACE: 3 hours, 36 minutes, 2 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 140.256 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.210 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 10 for 42 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 25 among 13 drivers
LAP LEADERS: C. Edwards - pole; G. Biffle 1-9; R. Smith 10-11; G. Biffle
12-14; P. Menard 15-16; D. Hamlin 17-40; J. Burton 41-57; J.
Gordon 58; T. Stewart 59-60; J. Burton 61-67; G. Biffle 68-76; M.
Truex Jr. 77-81; G. Biffle 82; T. Labonte 83-85; G. Biffle 86-99;
M. Truex Jr. 100-101; D. Hamlin 102-129; G. Biffle 130; M. Martin
131-132; G. Biffle 133-138; D. Hamlin 139-143; J. Logano 144-145;
M. Kenseth 146-157; G. Biffle 158; D. Blaney 159-164; M. Kenseth
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Farmers Insurance
7Robby Gordon (Orange, CA)Dodge/Speed Energy
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/Stanley
10David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Express
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/GEICO
14Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Office Depot/Mobil 1
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/3M Commer Graphics
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Best Buy
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/M&M's
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Home Depot
22A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil
23Scott Riggs (Bahama, NC)Toyota/North Texas Pipe
24 *Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/Drive to End Hunger
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/Morristown Driver's Service
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Tarkett
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Rheem
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/TBA
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Wheaties
32Terry Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Ford/TBA
33Brendan Gaughan (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/South Point Casino
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/TBA
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Tomm
37Timmy Hill (Port Tobacco, MD)Ford/
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/Long John Silver's
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Wix
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Medallion Financial
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Kingsford/Scotts
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
49J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Toyota/America Israel Racing
51Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Mark Martin (Batesville, AR)Toyota/Aaron's
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Filters
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row Racing
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/Diet Mt. Dew/Nat Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King
98Michael McDowell (Glendale, AZ)Ford/TBA
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Subway
* - Defending champion
Leading Contenders (Finish the last seven years)
Jeff Gordon12th10thWon13th25th2ndWon
Kyle Busch8th36th7th10th17th8th2nd
Jimmie Johnson15th7th4thWon4th3rd3rd
Kevin Harvick19thWon10th19th30th13th4th
Ryan Newman14th39th38th43rd16thWon5th
Kasey Kahne17th6th31st36th13th39th6th
Tony Stewart33rd2nd2nd14th2nd23rd7th
Kurt BuschWon24th18th23rd3rd35th8th
A.J. Allmendinger------------35th15th9th
Dale Earnhardt Jr4th23rd19th7th31st12th10th
Denny Hamlin---34th3rd3rd6th30th11th
Matt Kenseth42nd3rd5th38th27th6th12th
Mark Martin16th11th12th5thWon4th13th
Martin Truex Jr.---22nd20th8th7th17th14th
Brad Keselowski---------------16th15th
Marcos Ambrose------------14th11th16th
Paul Menard------25th21st23rd29th17th
Juan Pablo Montoya------33rd16th24th5th19th
Greg Biffle41st15th17th9th5th22nd20th
Jeff Burton3rd9th13th6th15th25th26th
Clint Bowyer22nd5th22nd2nd26th9th27th
Carl Edwards7th4th11th4th10th7th28th
Joey Logano------------21st10th33rd
Jamie McMurray25th14th23rd17th11th24th35th
Mover of the Week
Paul Menard - Started 37th on the grid and finished 6th
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Greg Biffle
Darkhorse - Kasey Kahne
Last Week's Pick to Win (Kyle Busch) - Finished 17th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Jeff Burton) - Finished 5th
All good things must come to an end, as well as the bad and that was the case at last year's Subway Fresh Fit 500.

Kyle Busch had won the Camping World and Nationwide races the two previous days and was in line to win the trifecta at PIR, but he was denied by Jeff Gordon.

Gordon on the other hand, was winless in 66 consecutive races, the longest dry spell of his career.

With just eight laps remaining, Gordon passed Busch and then held him off by 1.1 seconds for his first win since April 2009 at Texas. The four-time Sprint Cup champion collected his 83rd career victory, which placed him in a tie with Cale Yarborough for fifth on the series' all-time race winners list. Gordon added two additional wins in 2011 and now stands alone in third place with 85 titles.

Back in 2010, Ryan Newman benefited from a late-race caution to end a 77-race winless streak at Phoenix International Raceway. Newman passed Gordon for the lead during a two-lap overtime finish, and then held off Gordon by 0.13 seconds for his 14th career Cup victory but his first since the 2008 Daytona 500. During the caution, Busch and then second-place runner Jimmie Johnson pitted for four tires, while Gordon and Newman took two tires only. Gordon exited the pits first, followed by Newman. Busch and Johnson fell back in the field. Just after the final restart, Newman pulled even with Gordon and then made the winning pass on the backstretch. Newman led just four laps in the 375-lap race.

Starting from the pole position, Mark Martin dominated the 2009 running of the spring race, as he crossed the finish line 0.734 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart for his 36th career Sprint Cup title. Martin, whose win total now stands at 40, good for 17th on the all-time winners list, led five times for a race-high 157 laps, as he became the second pole winner to win this race.

In 2008, Jimmie Johnson overcame an early race mistake by stretching his final tank of fuel for the final 81 laps and win his 34th Sprint Cup title. Johnson, who now totals 55 wins, led the final 11 laps to edge Clint Bowyer by seven seconds. Pole sitter Ryan Newman failed to finish the race due to engine problems and placed last.

Kevin Harvick swept both Arizona races in 2006, as he captured the Nationwide Series race on Friday and then cruised to victory the following evening in the Sprint Cup event. Harvick, who won for the sixth time in his career at the time, finished well ahead of Tony Stewart to complete the double. Harvick started in the 15th position and did not move in front until the 303rd lap, but it was good enough to post a 2.774 seconds victory. Pole sitter Kyle Busch led the first seven laps, but finished well back at 36th. Greg Biffle, who started second on the grid, led six times for a race-high 151 laps and placed 15th.

Although this is just the eighth spring race in Arizona, NASCAR has raced in Phoenix since the late 1970s. The occasion was an event in what is now the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. Staged a few days after the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California, the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series event attracted NASCAR Sprint Cup teams en route from California - a tradition that lasted from 1977 through 1982.

The one-mile Arizona track opened in March 1964. Its first race was an open- wheel event won by A.J. Foyt. In the 31 previous races in Phoenix, only four pole sitters have emerged victorious. Over 50-percent of the winners have come from the top-10.

Although just a two-time winner on the Sprint Cup circuit at PIR, Gordon has had strong results in the desert with 18 top-10 finishes, three poles and 388 laps led in 26 starts. His average finish is 10.885. Gordon has an additional win on the Nationwide Series from 1999. Gordon's win in 2007 tied Dale Earnhardt on the all-time wins list at 76.

Detroit Lions defensive player Ndamukong Suh will serve as the Grand Marshall for this weekend's race.

The Sprint Cup Series moves on to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the March 11 Kobalt Tools 400. Carl Edwards is the defending race winner.

02/28 18:02:28 ET

As of February 28, 2012, at 06:02 PM ET
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