Dale Earnhardt Jr. – I have questions about Earnhardt Jr.’s ability to adapt in NASCAR. It took him years to adapt to the COT. In eight out of the last nine Richmond races Junior has finished lower than 15th. I think Junior will miss the old Phoenix track configuration. It was certainly one of his better tracks. He does fare better on the shorter tracks so he might be worth a look this week.
Kasey Kahne – The 4 team has been spot on in the Chase and Red Bull has been good on the shorter tracks this season. My concern is that I just don’t see his momentum continuing this week. I think the slickness of the track might be an issue. In the fall race at Phoenix (old track configuration) Kahne has only finished in the top ten twice.
Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya has faired pretty well at Richmond and he ranks towards the top of the mid packers this week. At Richmond he’s finished in the top fifteen in four out of the last six races. I don’t think EGR is one of the quicker teams at adapting so there’s a good chance they might be out in the weeds this week. On the old Phoenix track configuration he only finished in the top ten twice in nine races.
Jeff Burton – The old track configuration was very friendly to Burton. He won back to back races in the early 2000’s. One thing I really like about Burton is that he’ll do anything for a win at this point in the season. He’s put himself in position to win three races in a row so four can’t be out of the question. In four out of the last five Richmond races Burton’s finished 13th or worse.
Mark Martin – Hendrick Motor Sports teams have tested at Phoenix probably more than anyone. Richmond is traditionally a good track for Martin and he finished 10th this fall. His three prior RIR finishes were 25th, 20th and 14th. Martin and the 5 team have been mid packers for 75% of the season so why should things change now?
Jamie McMurray -McMurray ran good at Richmond this fall. His 12th place average running position ranked as the 9th best (12th). He also qualified second and led 19 laps. The downside about McMurray is that the 1 team has nothing going for them. In the Chase McMurray has an average finish of 27th and he’s only finished in the teens once (15th). I think McMurray is a quick learner but the momentum of this team should scare you away.
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