Some Changes At Phoenix

(photo courtesy Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Here are the changes that the Phoenix race fans will see this weekend.

First, the race distance has increased since last year’s race, up 63 laps from 312 (502.1 kilometers) to 375 (603.5 kilometers).

Secondly, the starting time is approximately an hour earlier per NASCAR orders to incorporate earlier start times this season – from about 5:30 p.m. Arizona time (7:30 p.m. eastern time) to about 4:30 p.m.

Third, say adios to the dreaded rear wing and hola to the return of the spoiler.

Add in the differences in turns 1 and 2  to the bigger sweeping faster turns of 3 and 4, and oh yeah, there is that little dog-leg thing on the back stretch!  It all adds up to very different oval race track.

The talk in the garage is that spoiler isn’t going to make a big difference in how the race handles, however the true tests will come when the car hit Texas Motor Speedway and, of course, Talladega Superspeedway.  Those two tracks are next after this trip to “The Valley of The Sun” at Phoenix.  Nevertheless, PIR will pose its own unique tests for the cars and drivers as they negotiate the different turns and the dog-leg this Saturday night.

According to Greg Biffle, Phoenix stands out as a very unique facility.

“That’s what makes the track so fun,” Biffle said. “It’s very challenging. It’s so different. The only racetrack I can think of that’s  an oval – you’ve got to throw Pocono out because it’s an animal of its own – Phoenix stands out as being one of the most different from one end to the other.

“You almost drive it like a road course. In Turn 1 you brake real late and turn in. (Turn) 3 and 4 is a long sweeping corner where you’re on and off the gas a couple times trying to get the car to turn around the corner. Dogleg backstretch. So it’s a unique place.”

“It’s always a balance. That’s what makes it so much fun,” Biffle concluded.

So Saturday night could be a very exciting race.

For those teams outside the top 12, it is time to pull those belts down tight, pull those gloves up over your elbows, get on top of the wheel, and let’s go racing boys!


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