Mar. 4, 2012; Avondale, AZ, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fans watch the race from the mountainside in turn four during the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Nascar: Shootout In The Desert

The grizzled old sheriff has picked up some new pistols in Texas last week. He has five notches on his old gun, and is looking to put a notch in his new “Shootin Iron” in Arizona this week. The young outlaw who is looking to gun him down in the desert, has arranged a shootout at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Everybody is waiting to witness the fate of the newcomer. Quick! someone find Marty Robbins, and write a song.

The AdvoCare 500 will drop the green flag about 2:20 on one mile D-oval track at Phoenix. The track has modest banking at 11 and 9 degrees, and should provide a nice backdrop for our shootout which will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 2PM Eastern. Pre-race coverage will be as usual, on The Speed Channel.

As we anticipate the Green Flag on Sunday, it looks to be the race that will decides it all. I don’t think we will go to Homestead not knowing who will win the 2012 Nascar Sprint Cup Championship. Only once in the Jimmie Johnson era, has he ever went to Homestead not knowing he was going to win. That was in 2010 when Denny Hamlin came close.

Jimmie Johnson comes to Phoenix in a familiar position. He has just come off two consecutive wins at Martinsville and Texas, and owns a seven point lead in the chase. He and his Lowes Chevrolet Team have shown in the past that they can handle the pressure of the Number 1 position, and do not make mistakes at this juncture.

Brad Keselowski showed us last week that he is not going to go down with out a fight. He displayed a lot of internal fortitude when he beat the #48 on the next to last restart at Texas, where he went door to door with the veteran, and came out on top. If Mark Martin had not wrecked, Jimmie Johnson may have came to the dessert trailing the youngster.

The November 12th issue of ESPN The Magazine has a small write up on Brad Keselowski in the Nascar section, and is worth the read. It chronicles Brad’s road to success.

Clint Bowyer has to be approaching this race with the thought that maybe the leaders will get in a shootout, and open the door for him. He is sitting in third place at 36 points back and I guess anything can happen. The remainder of the field is not all mathematically eliminated as of yet, but they would need a miracle of some kind to have a remote chance. Bowyer however, has to be the bird in the cat seat just waiting for the big bang.

Chances that the big bang will happen at Phoenix are not good. The racetrack has a couple of racing grooves, but did pick up some excitement after the re-pave. Still, I don’t forsee anyone making too many mistakes.

My pick for Sunday to win the race, is Kyle Busch. Kyle has been running well, and is on the verge of wanting another win before the season ends. I was impressed last weekend that he stayed out of the mix when the race was on the line, but am not sure how long he can maintain his patience. Maybe the leaders will be back in the pack, and give the #18 an opportunity.

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Tags: Brad Keselowski Jimmie Johnson Kyle Busch Sprint Cup Series

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