Sprint Cup Preview: Subway Fresh Fit 500
Daytona is a magical place. During the final laps of the Daytona 500, we completely forget about the first 490 miles. And during this season’s Great American Race, the first 490 were pretty easy to forget.
It was a snoozer.
Cars lined up nose to tail at the top of the racetrack for the majority of the race. Anyone that tried to pull out of line found themselves immediately falling to the back of the field. Even the final lap of the race, a lap that has created so many memories throughout the years, seemed to go by with remarkably little drama.
Danica Patrick, the unquestionable story of the week, found herself sitting in third as the field came to the white flag, only to stay in line and finish 8th. Greg Biffle, last year’s third place finisher, simply stayed in line down the backstretch as last year’s runner-up, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made another last lap charge that fell short. It seemed like it was all too easy for eventual winner Jimmie Johnson to move to block the inside lane and seal the victory.
So, while we can all agree the much-hyped Gen 6 racecar looked a whole lot better on the track than its precursor, the "Car of Tomorrow", the racing action left quite a bit to be desired. But, never fear, Phoenix is here!
Here are a few reasons this week’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 should be an improvement over last week’s single-file snoozer:
The spoilers are bigger
Way bigger. They’re nearly doubly the size of the spoilers the cars ran at Daytona last weekend. This means more grip, and more grip means more aggression from drivers.
The cream rises
Phoenix separates the contenders from the pretenders. If Daytona is a magical place where anything can happen, Phoenix International Raceway is a harsh reality check where the cream rises to the top. Let’s put it this way, I’ll be surprised if Michael McDowell or J.J. Yeley score another top 10 in the Arizona desert.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for all the Danica nay-sayers out there, but here goes. Danica finished 17th in the fall race at Phoenix last year. She’s in a really good car, and has a ton of confidence after a solid showing in the 500. She could very easily have another good finish here, which could send the hype machine into warp speed.
Looking better already, right? Well, hold your tumbleweeds.
While the race may look different, there’s a strong possibility the ending could be the same. Jimmie Johnson has 4 wins at Phoenix, more than any other driver in the top 12 in points.
Hey, at least there will be more passing.
Tommy Joe Martins is a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver & a weekly racer at the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, he's been a sports columnist for The Daily Mississippian, a radio host & a life-long NASCAR fan.