Jimmie Johnson – Jimmie Johnson has been a solid performer at Phoenix. Since 2015 minus the last two fall races (problems in both events) he has a 10.0 average finish, a 10.8 average running position and has finished in the top 14 every race. Earlier this year at Phoenix he was a mid-teens driver. He finished 14th, had a 15th place average running position and earned the 16th best driver rating. Nothing notable happened to him in the race, it was just an OK performance. Last fall Johnson was having a solid race but his afternoon wasn’t incident free. On lap 149 while running in 11th he had a blown tire and got into the wall hard which marked the end of his race (finished 39th). Additionally it should be noted he finished 10th in Stage #1 and almost always ran within a few deviations of 10th. In spring 2017, Johnson had a solid race. He earned the 5th best driver rating, had a 7th place average running position and finished 9th. If there wasn’t a late caution he was on pace to finish 6th. In fall 2016, Johnson had a great car but finished a misleading 38th. While he was leading the caution came out and as he was approaching pit road he passed the pace car and that led to a 1 lap penalty. That put him back in the pack and eventually he plowed into the back of Austin Dillon during a restart which doomed his afternoon. In the three races prior to that he had results of 11th, 5th and 11th. This year at shorter flat tracks, Johnson has a 9.5 average finish and has three straight results in the top ten.
Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman is a solid dark horse option at Phoenix. In the #88 at Phoenix he’s run well and was a serious threat to win in fall 2016. On Sunday I think he has a great chance to compete for a top ten. This year in 3 of the 4 races on this sub-track type he’s finished between 11th to 13th. Earlier this year at Phoenix he had a solid performance and finished 13th. His race also wasn’t incident free. Around the mid-point while he was running in 11th he was caught speeding on pit road. In fall 2016 when he drove the #88 he had a great performance. In that race he started on the pole, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, finished 6th, led a race high 194 laps and recorded the most fastest laps (58).
Daniel Suarez – Daniel Suarez has a knack for finishing well at shorter flat tracks and on Sunday I wouldn’t be surprised if he sneaks in a top ten. Over his ten combined races on this sub-track type he sports an impressive 11.5 average finish. His average finish over these ten combined races ranks as the 8th best in the series. At Phoenix, Suarez has three races under his belt and sports an 11.0 average finish. Earlier this year he had a respectable showing. He finished 8th, earned the 12th best driver rating and had a 14th place average running position. Last year at Phoenix he wasn’t really that great in either race. Last fall for whatever reason he just never seemed to run well. He had a 17th place average running position and finished 18th. In spring 2017 Suarez was around mid-teens good, but finished 7th after closing strong during the final restart.