On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kyle Petty eloquently put into words how important Sunday’s race at Phoenix is for the five drivers still eligible for the one remaining position for the Championship 4 race at Miami the following week.
“It’s a party of five, table for one,” Petty said.
Petty and Jeff Burton broke down their predictions for each driver, and who has the best chances to keep their dream alive.
“They’re not good,” Burton said with a laugh. “Some people embrace it, some people really thrive on that pressure. When I think about Jimmie Johnson and probably Chase Elliott, they just know their deal: they know they’re going to have to win Phoenix.
“And if they can’t, they’re probably not going to make their way in unless something crazy happens. For them, it’s actually a little bit easier. I think it becomes a little bit harder to manage if you’re Brad, Denny or Ryan, if Denny and Ryan can catch Brad in a weak moment and get really good stage points in the first stage, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
Petty, meanwhile, sees things a little bit different and how the drivers with the longest odds potentially having the least pressure upon them.
“I think everybody has to go there thinking they have to win that race, even Brad (Keselowski) has to,” Petty said. “If I look at Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott, they have to go there with one single focus: win.
“So that makes their job easy. They don’t worry about points or stage points, but that last 10-15 laps, being in position to capitalize on somebody else’s mistake, or checking out on everybody.”
Check out the video above to get more insight from Burton and Petty.