Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Phoenix

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It’s almost time to decide which four drivers will have the opportunity to compete for stock car racing’s biggest prize.

On Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, the third and final elimination race of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup will take place. None of the eight remaining drivers in the Chase have been able to lock themselves into the Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which would surely create an exciting atmosphere on its own.

But in the wake of another post-race fight that involved three Chase contenders in Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick, Phoenix has become even more compelling.

The aggression that has been on display throughout this post-season is bound to continue with a trip to Homestead on the line. And what we’ve seen so far in terms of drama may pale in comparison to what could be in store for us in Arizona.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know about the ninth race of the 2014 Chase – the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500…

PHOENIX-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

1 – Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.8
2014 Rundown
· Five wins, 16 top fives, 21 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.4
· Led 21 races for 976 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 15.9 in 11 races
· Average Running Position of 15.1, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.7, 15th-best

2 – Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.8
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 14.8
· Led 16 races for 289 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.3 in 18 races
· Average Running Position of 11.7, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.1, seventh-best
· 237 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 4,134 Laps in the Top 15 (72.6%), seventh-most

3 – Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.9
2014 Rundown
· Four top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.0
· Led 7 races for 41 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, eight top fives, 10 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 18.2 in 24 races
· Average Running Position of 15.1, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 87.7, 11th-best
· 821 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· 4,031 Laps in the Top 15 (67.1%), ninth-most
· 539 Quality Passes, second-most

4 – Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.3
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 13 top fives, 21 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 10.6
· Led 25 races for 922 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Two wins, 11 top fives, 21 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.3 in 31 races
· Average Running Position of 10.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 99.9, third-best
· 237 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.692 mph, eighth-fastest
· 4,874 Laps in the Top 15 (81.2%), second-most
· 450 Quality Passes, sixth-most

5 – Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 92.1
2014 Rundown
· 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 13.7
· Led 20 races for 529 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.2 in 24 races
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 15th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.3, 12th-best
· 173 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 835 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.506 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,616 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 10th-most
· 449 Quality Passes, seventh-most

6 – Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.3
2014 Rundown
· Two wins, seven top fives, 14 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.5
· Led 11 races for 135 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Two wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 12.1 in 20 races
· Average Running Position of 12.6, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 99.9, fourth-best
· 367 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.784 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,124 Laps in the Top 15 (68.7%), eighth-most
· 435 Quality Passes, ninth-most

7 – Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 103.2
2014 Rundown
· Six wins, 15 top fives, 18 top 10s; five poles
· Average finish of 13.2
· Led 27 races for 1,540 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Three top fives, four top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.7 in 10 races
· Average Running Position of 14.9, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 88.9, 10th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.711 mph, fifth-fastest

8 – Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.7
2014 Rundown
· Three wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s; eight poles
· Average finish of 13.6
· Led 25 races for 1,819 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Five wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.8 in 23 races
· Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best
· Driver Rating of 103.9, second-best
· 386 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 771 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.868 mph, second-fastest
· 4,646 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), fourth-most
· 446 Quality Passes, eighth-most

9 – Kyle Busch (No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.1
2014 Rundown
· One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 16.5
· Led 15 races for 453 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 13.3 in 19 races
· Average Running Position of 11.8, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 97.7, sixth-best
· 253 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 835 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.704 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,802 Laps in the Top 15 (80.0%), third-most
· Series-high 562 Quality Passes

10 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.7
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 12 top fives, 19 top 10s
· Average finish of 12.3
· Led 16 races for 379 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 16.4 in 24 races
· Average Running Position of 16.3, 16th-best
· Driver Rating of 86.0, 13th-best
· 822 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.500 mph, 12th-fastest

11 – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.9
2014 Rundown
· Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.8
· Led 17 races for 1,310 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Four wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 6.3 in 22 races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.9
· Series-best Driver Rating of 116.5
· Series-high 609 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 126.185 mph
· Series-high 5,319 Laps in the Top 15 (88.6%)
· 533 Quality Passes, third-most

12 – AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 GLAD Trash Bags Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.8
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 19.7
· Led 5 races for 68 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Two top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.7 in 10 races
· Average Running Position of 16.9, 18th-best
· Driver Rating of 80.4, 19th-best

13 – Greg Biffle (No. 16 Sherwin Williams Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.6
2014 Rundown
· Three top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.9
· Led 7 races for 110 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 14.0 in 21 races
· Average Running Position of 14.7, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.0, ninth-best
· 288 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 825 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.564 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,395 Laps in the Top 15 (56.5%), 11th-most
· 408 Quality Passes, 11th-most

14 – Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.1
2014 Rundown
· One win, six top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 19.5
· Led 14 races for 219 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, five top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 14.6 in 23 races
· Average Running Position of 10.9, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.7, eighth-best
· 290 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 125.644 mph, ninth-fastest
· 4,174 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), sixth-most
· 411 Quality Passes, 10th-most

15 – Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 87.7
2014 Rundown
· One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 17.7
· Led 12 races for 218 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 17.8 in 20 races
· Average Running Position of 18.8, 22nd-best
· Driver Rating of 79.9, 20th-best
· 160 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most

16 – Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford)
· Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.2
2014 Rundown
· One win, two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 21.6
· Led 5 races for 23 laps
Phoenix International Raceway Outlook:
· Average finish of 18.6 in seven races
· Average Running Position of 17.5, 21st-best
· Driver Rating of 74.2, 24th-best

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If two or more Eliminator 8 drivers are tied after Phoenix, the tie-breaker will go to the driver with the best finish in the three Eliminator Round races. Here is how the Eliminator 8 drivers have fared in each of the first two races in this round:

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Phoenix International Raceway Track Data
Race 35 of 36
1-mile oval
Banking, Turn 1 and 2 – 10-11 degrees
Banking, Turn 3 and 4 – 8-9 degrees
Banking, Frontstretch – 3 degrees
Banking, Backstretch – 8-9 degrees
Frontstretch Length – 1,179 feet
Backstretch Length – 1,551 feet
312 laps, 500 kilometers

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Phoenix
Jimmie Johnson, 116.5
Kevin Harvick, 103.9
Jeff Gordon, 99.9
Carl Edwards, 99.9
Tony Stewart, 98.3
Kyle Busch, 97.7
Denny Hamlin, 97.1
Kurt Busch, 96.7
Greg Biffle, 91.0
Brad Keselowski, 88.9
Note: Driver ratings compiled from 2005-14 races (19 total) among active drivers at Phoenix.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet – 139.222 mph, 25.858 seconds, 11.08.2013
2013 race winner: Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet – 105. 733 mph (2 hours, 57 minutes, 3 seconds), 11.10.2013
Track qualifying record: Brad Keselowski, Ford – 139.384 mph, 25.828 seconds, 02.28.2014
Track race record: Tony Stewart, Pontiac – 118.132 mph (2 hours, 38 minutes, 28 seconds), 11.07.1999

Phoenix International Raceway History

· Construction was completed in January 1964. The facility consisted of a one-mile oval and a 2.5-mile road course.

· Alan Kulwicki won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix on Nov. 6, 1988.

· The first spring race was held on April 23, 2005 and also the first night race, which was won by Kurt Busch.

· The track underwent its first repave in 2011. The construction began in March and concluded in September of that year.

· The following changes were made during the construction period (March – Sept., 2011):

o Widened the frontstretch from 52 to 62 feet

o Reconfigured pit road with the installation of concrete pit stalls

o Pushed the dog-leg curve between Turn 2 and Turn 3 out 95 feet

o Tightened the turn radius of the dog-leg from 800 to 500 feet

o Implemented variable banking to ensure the immediate use of two racing grooves, including 10-11 degree banking between Turn 1 and Turn 2; 10-11 degree banking in the apex of the dog-leg; and 8-9 degree banking in Turn 4

Phoenix International Raceway Notebook

· There have been 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix International Raceway, one per season from 1988-2004 and two each season since.

· 194 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix; 139 in more than one.

· Mark Martin leads series in starts at Phoenix with 34; followed by Jeff Gordon with 31.

· Geoffrey Bodine won the first pole in 1988 at a speed of 123.203 mph (29.220 sec.).

· There have been 20 different Coors Light pole winners, led by Ryan Newman with four.

· Youngest Phoenix pole winner: Kyle Busch (4/22/06 – 20 years, 11 months, 20 days).

· Oldest Phoenix pole winner: Mark Martin (03/03/13 – 54 years, 1 month, 22 days).

· Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards are the only drivers to win consecutive poles. Newman won three straight (2002-04), while Gordon won the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007. Edwards won the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011.

· Denny Hamlin (November, 2005) and AJ Allmendinger (April, 2010) won their first career Coors Light poles at Phoenix International Raceway

· There have been 23 different NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Phoenix, eight have won more than once, led by Eliminator Eight driver Kevin Harvick, with five – (’06 spring race and Chase race, ’12 Chase race, ‘13 Chase race and ’14 spring race).

· The eight drivers have won more than once at Phoenix: Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins with five followed by Jimmie Johnson (four), Davey Allison (two), Jeff Burton (two), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two), Jeff Gordon (two) Carl Edwards (two) and Mark Martin (two).

· Of the eight drivers with multiple wins at Phoenix International Raceway, Mark Martin is the only driver to win in two different manufacturers: Ford (1993) and Chevrolet (2009).

· Five drivers have won consecutive races at Phoenix: Davey Allison (1991,1992); Jeff Burton (2000, 2001); Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2004); Kevin Harvick (swept 2006) and (2013 Chase race – Spring race 2014); Jimmie Johnson is the only one of the five to win three consecutive races (fall 2007, swept 2008).

· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Phoenix with nine, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.

· Four of the 36 (11.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix have been won from the Coors Light pole: Jeff Gordon (spring 2007), Jimmie Johnson (fall 2008), Mark Martin (spring 2009) and Carl Edwards (fall 2010).

· Seven of the 36 (19.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix have been won from the front row: four from the pole and three from second-place.

· 17 of the 36 (47.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix have been won from a starting position inside the top 10.

· 19 of the 36 (52.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix have been won from a starting position outside the top 10.

· 3 of the 36 (8.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.

· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at Phoenix with a 6.273; he is the only active driver with an average finish inside the top 10.

· Ricky Rudd won the 1995 race from the 29th-place starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

· Matt Kenseth won the 2002 race from the 28th-place starting position, the furthest back an active race winner has started.

· Two perfect Driver Ratings of 150.0 have been recorded at Phoenix, Kurt Busch in April of 2005 and Kevin Harvick in November of 2006.

· Youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Phoenix International Raceway winner: Kyle Busch (11/13/2005 – 20 years, 6 months, 11 days).

· Oldest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Phoenix International Raceway winner: Mark Martin (04/18/2009 – 50 years, 3 months, 9 days).

· Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Phoenix with five; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart with three each.

· Jimmie Johnson lead the series in top-five finishes at Phoenix with 14; followed by Mark Martin with 12 and Jeff Gordon with 11.

· Alan Kulwicki (11/6/1988) and Bobby Hamilton (10/27/1996) are the only two drivers to post their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Phoenix International Raceway.

· 21 of the 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Phoenix participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Alan Kulwicki (11/6/1988) and Tony Stewart (11/7/1999) are the only two drivers to win at Phoenix in their first appearance.

· Jeff Gordon competed at Phoenix International Raceway 16 times before winning (4/21/2007); the longest span of any the 23 winners.

· Six drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Phoenix: Jeff Gordon (16), Ryan Newman (15), Kasey Kahne (14), Denny Hamlin (13), Carl Edwards (12) and Rusty Wallace (11).

· Joe Nemechek leads the series (active drivers) with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix without visiting Victory Lane with 28.

· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix was the (4/10/2010) race won by Ryan Newman with a MOV of 0.13 seconds.

· Two drivers have won at Phoenix and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep and 2009); Dale Earnhardt (1990).

· Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway.
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· Car numbers that have produced three or more Phoenix wins:

Car Number – Drivers – (Years)

o No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep and 2009)

o No. 99 – Carl Edwards (2010 and 2013) and Jeff Burton (2000, 2001)

o No. 29 – Kevin Harvick (2006 sweep, 2012 and 2013)

o No. 5 – Mark Martin (2009), Kyle Busch (2005) and Terry Labonte (1994)

NASCAR in Arizona

· There have been 41 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in Arizona. All but five of them have taken place at Phoenix International Raceway. Four Cup races were held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix and one Cup race was held at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.

· 32 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Arizona.

· None of the drivers from Arizona have won a race in NASCAR’s three national series.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”