After a week off, NASCAR resumes quest for Nov. 21 Championship in Miami
Mark Martin celebrated the first of his five victories last season at Phoenix. Martin has two career victories at Phoenix coming 16 years apart (photo courtesy: Jeff Gross, Getty Images Sport)
It is fitting that Laila Ali, daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali, will be the Grand Marshal for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, as Saturday night at Phoenix 42 drivers will be fighting to cut into Jimmie Johnson’s points lead.
Saturday night it’s Race 7 of 36 en route to NASCAR crowning its 2010 Champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21 during Ford Championship Weekend. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
One of those drivers looking to climb toward Miami glory is Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently sitting 10th in the Sprint Cup Championship standings. In 15 Sprint Cup races at Phoenix, Junior has two wins, four Top 5 results and seven Top 10s.
"Phoenix is a cool track,” said Earnhardt Jr. “It's challenging because both ends of the track are completely different. It's tough to make a car work good there, but whoever can get through the corners is going to have a good night."
While Johnson’s No. 48 has won four of the last five races at Phoenix, he could get a strong fight this weekend from teammate Mark Martin. The 52-year-old fan favorite raced to victory at Phoenix last spring in the first of his five 2009 victories en route to a second-place finish in the race for the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship, crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the fifth time in Martin’s three-decade career that he has finished runner up in the standings, a finish he hopes to improve upon this fall in Miami. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
“Phoenix has been a great racetrack for me since I first started going there,” said Martin, who in the desert has recorded two wins and 17 Top 10 finishes with an average finish of 8.8. “I like the short track style and I love night racing, so I look forward to this one, for sure.”
Martin and Johnson’s team, Hendrick Motorsports, is the all-time leader in car owner victories at Phoenix, with Roush Fenway Racing running second. Ironically, Martin’s two Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix came 16 years apart—the first racing for Jack Roush (1993) and the second last spring in his first season driving for Rick Hendrick.
“We had a winning car from the time we rolled off the truck last year,” said Martin. “The guys knew it, too, and I was so concerned with not disappointing them."
The next race in the pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—is slated for Saturday, April 10, at Phoenix. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 7 PM.
All three of NASCAR’s premier racing series—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series—again will crown Champions during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE.
On the Move: South Florida's Montoya
South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya heads to Phoenix in hopes of regaining the form that propelled him into NASCAR’s 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, which again this year will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Saturday night, it’s Race 7 of 36 en route to NASCAR crowning its 2010 Champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 19-21. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
In Race 6 at Martinsville, Montoya was strong early but drove to a 36th-place result after a blown tire caused him to crash and resulted in another of the DNFs that has haunted him this season.
“Hopefully we can have a clean day and get things back on track for the Target team,” Montoya said. “Last couple of weeks has been kind of rough for us, but it’s OK. Overall, the team keeps doing an amazing job, brings good Chevrolet racecars, good motors. I can't complain.”
In his Sprint Cup career, Montoya has raced six times at Phoenix with one Top 10 finish, his eighth-place result that came last fall.
“Phoenix is a cool place,” said Montoya. “Over the years, we normally get decent results there—not terribly great but not bad either. The track is actually kind of a tricky race track because you can run the apron in a lot of places, make up a lot of lap time with it. It's always fun.”
Montoya continues his pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—on Saturday, April 10, at Phoenix. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 7 PM.
Follow Juan Pablo Montoya
Follow Homestead-Miami Speedway