By admin | March 2, 2012
By Richard Allen
Friday’s practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series at the Phoenix International Raceway revealed one very clear fact. The track’s recently paved surface is very slippery as several cars spun or brushed the outside wall after loosing grip.
Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth briefly lost control of his Ford and slapped the wall. At first, the damage did not appear to be terribly serious on the #17 car but eventually the Roush Fenway Racing team opted to unload their backup car.
“Dumb mistake,” explained Kenseth after his brush with wall. “It just got away from me on cold tires.”
Several other drivers also experienced troubles of varying degrees. Ryan Newman’s team also had to pull out their backup Chevrolet after he got loose on a mock qualifying run and banged the wall with the right side of his primary car.
Hard tires brought by Goodyear to withstand the newly paved surface combined with blowing sand are the likely culprits for making the track slick. Those factors would seem to favor drivers who have extensive dirt track experience.
Tony Stewart, who just recently won a sprint car race on a dirt track in Georgia, is one of those in NASCAR who has raced countless laps on dirt. Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer are among several others to have slid their cars through the turns on a clay surface. That same feel may prove to be a great benefit on Sunday in ‘The Valley of the Sun’.
Kahne won on this track last fall driving for a team that was essentially slated for extinction in just two short weeks. If he could win for Team Red Bull then, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t win for powerful Hendrick Motorsports this weekend.
My prediction is that Kahne’s dirt experience, HMS equipment and crew chief Kenny Francis’s winning notebook from last fall will provide the winning equation on Sunday.
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