All conversations about Phoenix International Raceway begin and end with Kevin Harvick.
Four years ago, Harvick trailed Jimmie Johnson on the active wins list at the 1-mile track. Johnson once led with four wins, now Harvick overwhelms everyone with eight, including five of the last six.
It could have been six of six if not for rain ending last year’s fall race after 219 laps while Dale Earnhardt Jr. led.
Harvick and Johnson are the only active drivers who have reached eight wins at a track, with Johnson doing it at Dover (10), Martinsville (9) and Charlotte (8).
The last driver not named Harvick or Johnson to win consecutive Phoenix races was Earnhardt, who won in 2003 and 2004 when it only held one race a year.
Here is who is hot and cold entering Sunday’s Can-Am 500.
Who is hot
- Clinched spot in Championship 4 with Martinsville win.
- Finished top 10 in five of the last seven races.
- Four hundred and fifty-five laps led in the 2016 Chase, 266 in the regular season.
- Four Phoenix wins but last came in 2009, finished 11th at Phoenix in March
- Finished fifth at Martinsville and Texas.
- Top-10 finishes in eight of the last nine races.
- Finished top 10 in four of the last five races at Phoenix.
- Finished fourth in the last two Phoenix races.
- Clinched spot in championship race with Texas win.
- Only three top-10 finishes in the last 10 races, but one was a win at Texas.
- Three wins this season is most in a season since he had nine in 2008.
- Finished second at Phoenix in March, losing by 0.010 seconds (closest-ever margin of victory there).
- Led race-high 178 laps and finished second at Texas.
- Finished in the top 10 in 18 of the last 22 races.
- Top-10 finishes in five of the last six races at Phoenix, 18th in March.
- Best Phoenix finish is third, twice.
Who is cold
- Finished 20th or worse in four of the eight races of the Chase, had only two finishes outside top 20 in the regular season.
- All four wins came from a start of 11th or worse.
- Twenty-five top-10 finishes in 2016, most of all drivers. No top fives since
- Has never been eliminated from a Chase Round.
- Won six of last eight Phoenix races.
- Last two finishes are worst results in the last nine races.
- Only four top 10s in the last 13 races.
- Has four straight top 10s at Phoenix.
- Top-10 finishes in 13 of the last 16 races.
- Finished top three in four of the last eight races at Phoenix.
- Finished third at Phoenix in March.
Other notes of interest entering the Can-Am 500:
- Kevin Harvick has won six of the 10 races at Phoenix since its 2011 reconfiguration; finished first or second in
eight of the 10 Phoenix races since 2011.
- The last non-Chevrolet team to win at Phoenix was Carl Edwards in 2013 when he drove a Ford.
- Nine of the last 12 Phoenix races were completed in under three hours.
- Five cautions at Phoenix in March was the fewest in a full-distance race at Phoenix since the 2011 reconfiguration.
Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.
The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.
And right before the event began, Kurt Busch showed off his new No. 41 Monster Energy Ford by doing donuts in the middle of the race course.
But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.
But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.
In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.
The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.
Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.
Kyle Busch is entered into the third annual SRL Winter Showdown, a Super Late Model race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
Busch, who is competing in the Race of Champions this weekend in Miami, will drive the No. 51 Toyota Camry sponsored by JBL in the Feb. 11 race.
Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.
“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told Speed51.com. “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”
Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.
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Last night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its eighth class, including Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.
The night was filled with current and future Hall of Famers celebrating the history of the sport and the lives of the five inductees.
MORE: Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration
MORE: Mark Martin went from a “broken man” to a Hall of Famer
Here’s a look at how the night played out on social media with observations on the inductees from current NASCAR drivers and one message from future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
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CHARLOTTE — Richard Childress traced his Dickensian rise from humble beginnings to six championships in NASCAR’s premier series during his Hall of Fame induction speech Friday.
Childress, who grew up in poverty in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, won six championships in NASCAR’s premier series with fellow high school dropout Dale Earnhardt. After starting as an independent driver-owner who never won in a dogged career from 1968-81, Childress switched to focusing solely on running a team.
His grandson, Austin Dillon, now drives the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing that Earnhardt made famous.
“Only in America could a kid selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium have a dream of becoming a race driver some day,” Childress said. “And then he goes out and buys him an old ’47 Plymouth (and) pays $20 for it — that was the best investment I ever made — and have a dream of being a NASCAR driver some day, be standing up here tonight to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Only in America. What a great country we live in.”
During his speech, Childress made several references to a wall he’d like to put in the stock-car museum to signify all those who paved the way for his success.
“I’d like to put a 10‑foot by 20‑foot granite wall with thousands of names etched in it that’s helped me all along the way to get here tonight,” he said. “I can’t thank you all, but I want to put you on a great granite wall to where I can thank you for getting us up here.
“But on that granite wall, the first thing would be my family. My wife Judy, my daughter Tina, my son‑in‑law, Mike Dillon, grandson Ty and his wife Haley, she’s here tonight. Grandson Austin and his fiancé, Whitney Ward. I couldn’t have done it without you all’s support. We are a NASCAR racing family.”