NASCAR will head to the desert this weekend for the Phoenix Raceway’s Fan Shield 500. It will be the circuit’s first of two trips here this season and not the most important one.
That’s because the second trip to Phoenix will come Nov. 8 for the Cup Series Championship.
Don’t look at this week’s race, however, as a preview of November’s Cup Championship. Here’s a little note from our man Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker.
The driver who won the first race at the final track has only gone on to win the championship three times.
Terry Labonte won the 1984 Championship in Riverside, California after winning the Budweiser 500 there earlier in the season.
Dale Earnhardt won the 1990 Championship in Atlanta after winning the Motor Craft 500 there in March. That was also the year Mark Martin received a controversial penalty earlier in the season. Martin finished second to Earnhardt that season.
Jeff Gordon won the 1995 Championship also in Atlanta after winning the Purolater 500 there in March.
So if you’re the superstitious type or even a little stitious type and a lot of drivers are, maybe you want to finish in the top five this week, win a stage or two, but not get to victory lane.
Winning Trends: Sunday’s race started in 2005, making it a baby compared to some of the other races on the circuit. Through the first 15 races, Kevin Harvick has recorded five wins, or one-third of them.
Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing, with four wins each, have combined for more than half of the wins.
And Chevy has produced 10 wins, or two-thirds of the winning cars.
Early Odds: Kyle Busch is the early favorite for Sunday’s Fan Shield 500 at odds of 4-1. Busch won the race in 2019. Here are the rest of the top 10: Martin Truex Jr. (11-2); Kevin Harvick (6-1); Denny Hamlin (7-1); Ryan Blaney (10-1); Joey Logano (11-1), Chase Elliott (11-1), Brad Keselowski (12-1); Jimmie Johnson (16-1); Alex Bowman (16-1).
Phoenix Schedule: Friday: First practice 3:35; final practice 5:35, TV: Fox Sports 1. Saturday: Qualifying: 2:35, Fox Sports 1. Sunday: Race, 3:30, TV: Fox.