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Driver Recommendations for the 2009 Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix

Posted by chadmusselman on November 9, 2009

Jimmie’s wreck at Texas let Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon creep back into contention for the Cup. Can they capitalize and run better than Jimmie in Phoenix? Do you think Jimmie Johnson will have two bad weeks in a row? Phoenix is a much different track than Texas with lower banking and speeds. The drivers won’t be able to hold the throttle wide open as they have the past two weeks. They’ll be doing more driving and potentially battling the track; wanting to go faster when it won’t allow it.

Recommendations for the week:

Chaser: Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie won’t have two bad weeks in a row. I know it gets old to hear, but Jimmie is awesome at Phoenix too! He’s averaging a 5.4 place finish with 3 wins in the last 4 races and 6 consecutive top five finishes. In 12 career races Jimmie has 10 top tens. Simply amazing.

Alternate Chaser: Denny Hamlin
Don’t want Jimmie on your team since everyone else will have him? Then go for Denny as your chaser. He did well last week at Texas and has good history in Phoenix averaging a 10.4 place finish. The only thing I don’t like is since the first race of the chase Denny doesn’t have two consecutive top 10 finishes. In the 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 8th races he has top 5 finishes. In the other races in the chase his best finish is 22nd. Not good, but he should get a top ten this weekend.

Kyle Busch
Kyle has done fairly well in Phoenix over his career with 6 top tens and a win in 9 career races. He’s also been pretty good over the last five races averaging a 12.4 place finish. I’m sure he’s disappointed that he did so well in Texas without getting the win and sweeping the weekend. I don’t know if that will affect how he drives this weekend, but no matter what, you know he’ll be aggressive and pushing to get to or stay in the front of the pack.

Jeff Burton
Jeff has shown some life in the last two races finishing 5th and 9th. Phoenix is a track that he’s had some success at collecting 3 top tens in the last 4 races here. He also has the 6th best average finish at the track (11.2). He knows how to race and is a solid veteran that can get you points.

Dark horse: Martin Truex Jr.
Truex Jr. will definitely be a dark horse. Martin was expected to contend to make the Chase, and instead he’s sitting 24th in points and only has 4 top ten finishes this season. One of those top tens was at Phoenix earlier this season. He does have 3 top tens in 4 of the last races in Phoenix, so it’s not that unreasonable to think he can’t do it again this weekend.


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