Clint Bowyer – Richmond ranks right up there among Bowyer’s best tracks so naturally I think the new Phoenix track configuration will benefit him. This fall at Richmond Bowyer had a good car but he was involved in an incident with Reutimann and he also went a lap down due to a caution during his pit sequence. Before that race Bowyer finished sixth in three out of the last four Richmond races. Bowyer is hungry for wins and I think he’ll be pretty good in the Kobalt Tools 500.
Ryan Newman -Newman has finished in the top five the last three Phoenix races so you can uncheck the desert heat / slick track variable right off the bat. The shorter tracks like Richmond, New Hampshire, and the old Phoenix configuration were / are prime spots for Newman to be on your fantasy team. Tony Stewart has done extensive testing at Phoenix (4 days) so I think the 39 team will have a pretty good note book to work with this week.
Brad Keselowski – Keselowski has surprised a lot of people this year and there’s really no reason to be to low on him this week. He has three top fifteens at Richmond and he has the intangible to make the most out of bad days. It is mentionable though that he’s the only driver who I know of who damaged their car during testing at the new layout.
Marcos Ambrose -Ambrose has been successful at Richmond (15.2 avg finish) and thus I think he’ll fare well at the reconfigured Phoenix. Ambrose also ran good at the old Phoenix configuration (15.3 avg finish) so I can say with confidence he’ll be a front runner this week. He’s not at the front of the pack for “front runners” but I like him because he’s been running good across the board lately. In the last six races he’s finished 11th or better four times.
AJ Allmendinger – Allmendinger has been a quality sleeper pick at the old Phoenix track configuration, Richmond and New Hampshire. I think he’s a driver who could really surprise people and since it’s essentially a new track he’ll be on equal footing with everyone for perhaps the first time in his career.
Greg Biffle – Biffle has been a mid teens driver at Richmond since the late 2000’s. His last top ten at what I believe is Phoenix’s most similar track came in 2006. This year at Richmond Biffle finished 13th but he had an average running position of 8th. Biffle excels on slick tracks and the hotter the better. On the old Phoenix layout Biffle was consistently a top ten driver.
Matt Kenseth – The shorter tracks on the circuit aren’t always the most favorable for Kenseth but I wouldn’t count him out. Kenseth has been good in every Chase race to date and I think he’ll continue this trend. Richmond hasn’t been a strong point but I personally wouldn’t be to troubled to have Kenseth on my team this week.
David Ragan – Richmond has been one of David Ragan’s better tracks as of late. In both races this year he finished 4th. He also ran well at New Hampshire this year (14th and 7th) and that track is similar to Richmond. Roush Fenway Racing is a top tier team so I’m certainly not expecting them to miss the setup.