Two races to go, three drivers with any kind of chance of winning the Sprint Cup Championship. So obviously the stakes at Phoenix International Raceway, are rising.
The stakes are probably the highest for Clint Bowyer, as his margin for error is the smallest. Not only must he run a perfect race at Phoenix, but he also needs a little help in the way of bad luck for both Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski. And Phoenix is not a great track for Bowyer, but then again, neither was Charlotte.
"Beating the 48 and the 2, that seems to be the biggest challenge every week," said Bowyer. "We've been really close. We've done it a couple times, but not very often. Finishing the year strong -- be there for the taking if those guys have trouble."
But it's not likely to come for Johnson. Phoenix is actually one of the five time champs better tracks. He has four career wins at PIR and carries an average finish of fifth on the desert.
Keselowski, is not quite as good at Phoneix as Johnson, but then again no one is. Plus, Keselowski is really just in his second season of being a championship caliber driver. He has just one top five at PIR.
“We'll probably need to win one of the next two races," said Keselowski. "I feel like Phoenix is a whole different animal. I know you want to bring the stats up where he's so dominant. But they repaved last year, so it's not the same track."
And that has still been a topic of conversation this weekend at PIR. How is the track evolving? How is the pavement coming in?
"The track has had some time to age and I hope it’s lost some grip so we will definitely move out," said Johnson. "They spent a lot of time and effort to try to create extra lanes of racing through their modeling. I hope they are right. The first time there it was pretty narrow and I hope that as it ages we can get a wider race track and really put on a good show.”
When it comes to possible winners at Phoenix, You obviously want to start your conversation with Johnson and his four wins. Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Mark Martin each have a pair of victories. And Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart each have a single victory at Phoenix.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun