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No real advantage for Edwards or Stewart going into Phoenix

By admin | November 10, 2011

By Richard Allen

With the races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule down to only two and the battle for the Chase for the Championship so close, every statistical edge has to be considered. Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by only three points with races in Phoenix and Miami-Homestead remaining.

Going into Sunday’s event at the Phoenix International Raceway, there appears to be very little advantage for either of the top contenders on this track.

Edwards has started fourteen Sprint Cup races at PIR. He has scored one win and has five top-5s and nine top-10s to his credit on the one-mile circuit. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has led a total of 201 laps in the dessert and has an average finish of 13th.

In the most recent races on this track Edwards won in the fall of 2010 and was 28th earlier this season after starting that event from the pole. He has been the fastest qualifier three times on this track which could play a role in scoring important bonus points early in the race should he qualify up front and lead a lap at the beginning.

Stewart’s record in Phoenix is somewhat similar to that of Edwards. In nineteen starts he has amassed one win along with seven top-5s and ten top-10s. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has an average finish of 11.7 on the track.

In the most recent races at PIR, Stewart has 17th in the fall of 2010 and 7th in the spring of 2011. He won on this track the first time he ever drove a Sprint Cup car in competition here back in 1999.

As can be seen, neither driver seems to be able to boast of a significant edge over the other going into this race. Statistically, they are very similar. However, there is one factor which could require that all the above mentioned numbers to be tossed aside.

After this past spring’s event, PIR was resurfaced. The new asphalt will most definitely play a role in who wins this race and which of the two main championship contenders will leave ‘The Valley of the Sun’ with the lead heading into the last race of 2011. Whichever of these two drivers and teams is able to adapt to the new situation presented to them the fastest and best will have the best chance of being crowned champion at season’s end.

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