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Phoenix story lines

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

AVONDALE, Ariz. – It's not a make or break race, but with an off-week looming, the Subway Fresh Fit 500 could leave some drivers smiling and others wondering what they're doing wrong.

Here's a look at the top five story lines heading into Saturday's race at Phoenix International Raceway:

1. Can Jeff bounce back? In his brilliant Cup career, Jeff Gordon has finished last only twice. One of those was last week at Texas, where Gordon's car was so bad he couldn't keep it on the track. He's the defending race winner at Phoenix, but that means very little now. He needs a good run to rebuild some of the confidence in his car he lost last week.

2. Will this be Dale Jr.'s day? Every week he's been among the favorites, yet every week Dale Earnhardt Jr. has come up short. He hasn't won a race since May 6, 2006, a streak of 80 races. He's won at Phoenix before. Will this be the race when he breaks his winless streak?

3. Is Carl the favorite? Carl Edwards has proven he can dominate on the intermediate, 1.5-mile tracks. Contending on the short, flat-track at Phoenix would show his all-around game and cement him as the early favorite in the Chase for the 2008 Sprint Cup.

4. Who will stay ahead of the sun? The track will change as the sun goes down. Who will make the right adjustments to have their cars working the best when the lights go on?

5. Will RCR still be on top? Richard Childress Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick are 1-2 in the standings. Burton has a victory at PIR, while Harvick has two. Will they still be on top of the standings come Sunday?

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