The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into the Valley of the Sun for the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Thirty-Nine cars are scheduled to compete in Sunday’s race at the short-track. Kevin Harvick has dominated the spring race there over the last couple years.
Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) is a one-mile oval with a dogleg on the backstretch. PIR was completed in January 1964. The backstretch dogleg and turns one and two are banked at 10 to 11 degrees. Turns three and four are banked from eight to nine degrees. The frontstretch is banked at three degrees, while the rest of the backstretch is banked at nine degrees. The length of the frontstretch is 1,179 feet in length, while the backstretch is 1,551 feet in length. Pit Road is 1,140 feet in length. The Good Sam 500 is 500 kilometers in length, 312 laps long.
This will be the eleventh spring race at Phoenix International Raceway, but it is the fortieth race at the speedway since its inception in the 1988 season. Kevin Harvick leads active drivers with three wins. Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Neman, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin all have one win at Phoenix in the spring. Kevin Harvick won last year’s race from the pole. Jimmie Johnson holds the qualifying record set last year in the fall race at 143.158 mph.
Last year’s race experienced eight lead changes among seven different drivers, and only two cautions. Will that happen again with the low-downforce package being run for the first time at Phoenix?
Goodyear will be bringing the same tire for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series. This will be the first time that the tire codes will be run at Phoenix giving the cars more grip. The teams will not run liners in the tires this weekend. Sprint Cup Series teams will be allowed five sets for practice and qualifying, and nine sets for the race. Teams participated in a Goodyear Tire Test last year at Phoenix International Raceway in October with the new rules package to help Goodyear.
Drivers are excited to be returning to Phoenix International Raceway for the first time in 2016.
Michael McDowell will be racing in front of a hometown crowd this weekend. “It’s fun to race at Phoenix in front of a hometown crowd. The track makes for really good racing with a lot of side-by-side action. The new pavement and dogleg create a whole new level of excitement,” said McDowell in a release. “This race in particular is very competitive – there are usually a lot of cautions and plenty of opportunities to pass. It’s a good race for our Thrivent Racing team to come to after being at the mile and a half tracks for two weeks.”
“Phoenix is a really flat racetrack where you want to have the freshest tires possible, but track position is really important. A lot of what happens at Phoenix depends on the weather and how hot it is – how much fall-off and how you have to manage track position throughout the day. The cooler the day is, the more you have to manage your track position. The hotter the day, the more you have to manage the fall-off. Better-handling cars will have a little easier time of getting through the field,” says Kevin Harvick, defending race winner of the Good Sam 500 in a release.
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevy, believes Phoenix is tricky. “It’s tricky. It’s gotten a little slicker. The grip is not quite there. It’s always a fun place because it is unique. We don’t go to really any other track like it. It makes the setup and driving it a bit different. I think over the last couple of years the gears that we’ve used, we’ve been downshifting. So, when do you use the downshift to help turn the car and when does that over slow the car? There’s a lot of stuff that goes into racing at Phoenix. I think it’s going to be the same thing.”
"Phoenix is so unique. The key is to have your car good in both ends of the track and that's not easy to do. I think it's a fun track. It's so unique that it makes it a little bit of a different kind of fun. It really about finesse, too. You really can't take your car past its limit because there is no banking to catch you,” says Ryan Newman, driver of the Grainger Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in a release.
Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott will be performing double-duty this weekend.
Coverage for the NASCAR Spring Cup Series from Phoenix International Raceway will begin on Friday, March 11, 2016, at 12:30 pm Eastern on Fox Sports 1 and the Motor Racing Network.
TV and Radio Schedule
Friday, March 11
12:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1, MRN
6:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS2, MRN
Saturday, March 12
10:30 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FS1, MRN
1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, FS1, MRN
Sunday, March 13
2 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500, MRN
3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FOX Pre-Race Show, FOX
3:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500, FOX