Race Preview: Phoenix II

Back we go to Phoenix for the second time this season, for the second-to-last race of the year. Phoenix is a relatively short, flat track, so handicappers can group it loosely with the other short-flats on the circuit when trying to get a handle on how the race is likely to unfold.

That’s what I did. First I crunched the qualifying, practice and race data from all the 2010 short-flat races, which includes, Phoenix, Martinsville, New Hampshire and Richmond. Then I crunched just the Phoenix numbers to bias the results toward that track. Finally, in my new, improved methodology, I also cranked out the loop data from the above short-flats and just the 2010 Phoenix race as well, and I added those numbers to the mix.

I came up with this top 11:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Ryan Newman
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Clint Bowyer
  6. Juan Pablo Montoya
  7. Joey Logano
  8. A.J. Allmendinger
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Jeff Burton
  11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Johnson, Gordon and Kyle Busch had great cars at Phoenix in the spring, and the numbers say they will shine again this weekend. Newman had a pretty good car and was able to pull out the win at Phoenix I.

I’m a little surprised to see Logano and Allmendinger rate so high, but that’s what the numbers say.

Also, keep your eye on Dale Jr. in the prelims: The numbers place him just outside the top 10, he was strong at Phoenix in the spring (a mechanical problem hurt his finish) and he was strong at Martinsville a few weeks ago.

My Yahoo! Fantasy Picks
Group A
If you’ve got a Johnson start remaining, I say run him now. I don’t, so I’ll go with Gordon and Kyle Busch.

I also like Montoya and Edwards this week.

Group B
I’m out of Newman and Bowyer starts, so I’ll activate Logano, Burton, Dale Jr., and Kevin Harvick.

I like Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray next, in that order.

Group C
Allmendinger is tops by far this week, but I burned him up long ago. I like Sam Hornish Jr. next, followed somewhat distantly by Scott Speed, Paul Menard and Regan Smith, in that order.

I’ll go with Hornish and Speed.