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Last Updated Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 5:27 pm, EDT

Race Capsule

Phoenix International Raceway
  • What:

    Race 8 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, AZ

  • When:

    April 23, 2005 7:55 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    312

  • Track Length:

    1. miles

  • Race Length:

    312.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,795,076

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon Four-time series champion has 71 career checkered flags but none have come in Phoenix; Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Speedway are the only two venues on the circuit on which he has not won; captured a Busch Series race here, however; ran 15th in Texas last week on the heels of his second win of the season in Martinsville; all three of his top-10s this year have been fourth or better; has 10 top-10s in 12 starts here, recording an average finish of 9.1.
Kurt Busch Finished 10th here on November 7 among his nine top-10s during the inaugural "Chase for the Nextel Cup" en route to the title last year; after three straight finishes of third or better to start 2005, has managed only one top-10 in four events since - a seventh in last week's Samsung/RadioShack 500; finished no better than 19th in previous three events; climbed five spots to fourth in the standings with most recent effort; is 245 points behind the pace set by Johnson, whom he edged by eight points last year in the closest finish in stock car history.
Greg Biffle Led a career-high 219 laps to post dominating win in last week's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway; joined Jeff Gordon as the only drivers to record multiple checkered flags this season; also won the Auto Club 500 on February 27; second to Jimmie Johnson in the standings, 135 points off the pace; has five top-10s, including three top-fives, in seven events; ran 13th in the Checker Auto Parts 500 here on November 7.
Tony Stewart Led 45 laps last week in Texas but his recent bad luck continued as his engine exploded on lap 297, causing second-degree burns on his right leg and right arm when the boot around the gearshift lever burned, allowing flames to enter the cockpit; took a season-worst 31st-place finish to slip six spot to 11th in the standings; led four times for a race-high 247 laps two weeks ago but a broken wheel with under 70 laps remaining led to a 26th; the 2002 series champion won here in 1999 for his second career victory on this circuit; has plenty of experience with this track, beginning in the USAC as a 21-year-old in 1993: "When we come out to Phoenix two times this year as opposed to just once like we have in the past, it'll be like a homecoming each time. It's a place where I feel comfortable. I know every inch of that race track."
Ryan Newman Won his third pole of the season and 30th of his brief career in Texas last week before running 16th in the Samsung/RadioShack 500; has won the last three poles here, including a track record lap of 135.854 miles per hour on November 5; has finished in the top three in each of the last two events here, including a runner-up last year; has three top-10 finishes this year, including a season-high fourth in Martinsville two weeks ago.
Has crept to third in the standings in his final full season on the circuit; ran 10th in Texas last week for his fourth top-10 in seven races this season - dubbed "Rusty's Last Call"; the 1989 series champion has claimed 55 checkered flags in a career that began in 1980; led 196 of 257 laps in a rain-shortened race en route to victory here in 1998; finished second in 2002 and in 1997, third in 1999 and fourth in 2001; ran seventh here among his 11 top-10s in 2004 - his lowest total since managing eight top-10s in 1985.
Jimmie Johnson Extended his string to 13 straight top-10s dating to last year with a third in last week's Samsung/RadioShack 500; has five wins during that stretch, including a checkered flag in Las Vegas on March 13; is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the first seven events of 2005 and holds a 135-point standings lead; has two top-10s in three career starts here, including a second in 2003 after qualifying third.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Won the last two fall events here to become the third driver with two checkered flags in Phoenix; he, Jeff Burton and the late Davey Allison each have won their races in back-to-back years; victory here in the Checker Auto Parts 500 on November 7 was among his career-high six triumphs last season; also set a career high with 16 top-fives and matched his career best with 21 top-10s as he finished fifth in the point standings; climbed a spot to 15th in the standings this season with a ninth in last week's Samsung/RadioShack 500; was just his third top-10 in seven events.