(DISCLAIMER: The writer of this piece blew up in his fantasy race effort having both Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick on his team.)
For Sprint Cup racing about the only thing Phoenix has in common with Daytona is that both races are held in states where baseball’s spring training is up and rolling. Many say
Phoenix is where the real racing season begins, and aside from earning points at Daytona, what begins tomorrow is where the hard realities of the long Sprint Cup season begin for real.
Hours of preparation go into Daytona, which with the whole winter as build up, and the Dual 125’s as the gateway to a decent starting position, stands alone as its own phenomenon. That it is one of only four restrictor plate races also makes it impossible to project on how a team’s car will perform in the rest of the races. Phoenix, by contrast, and even more so, Las Vegas next week, presents a much more realistic look at which teams are poised to be contenders and which ones are struggling to where by the time they return to Daytona in early July, the story of the 2012 season will be in keen focus. Tomorrow begins the long haul – the season’s longest stretch – and fans first look at the regular setup for the Generation 6 race car.
Qualifying could indicate Ford is a little behind the curve as the “Blue Ovals” are shut out of the top ten with defending champ, Brad Keselowski, posting the 11th spot paired up with rookie contender, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 12th. The aged wonder, Mark Martin, captured the poll for Michael Waltrip Racing. The balance of the top 10 are all either Hendricks or Hendricks powered Stewart Haas cars and the Joe Gibbs boys. The sports’ two media sensations, both running Hendricks power, were not invited to the party, Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts 21st while Danica Patrick is down in the dregs at 40th.
|1||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron's Dream Machine||138.074|
|2||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Quaker State||137.862|
|5||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Pepsi MAX||137.164|
|6||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1||137.143|
|7||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Jimmy John's||137.075|
|8||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Ground||136.924|
|10||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Quicken Loans||136.861|
|11||2||Brad Keselowski||Ford||Miller Lite||136.835|
|12||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #||Ford||Best Buy||136.731|
|13||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||136.654|
|14||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Filters||136.602|
|21||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||National Guard||135.870|
|23||51||AJ Allmendinger||Chevrolet||Guy Roofing||135.440|
|25||78||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Furniture Row/Beautyrest||135.247|
|27||36||JJ Yeley||Chevrolet||Accell Construction||135.064|
|28||95||Scott Speed||Ford||Surrender the Sponsor||134.917|
|30||93||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King/Dr.Pepper||134.705|
|31||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Long John Silver's||134.695|
|32||22||Joey Logano||Ford||Shell Pennzoil||134.373|
|34||83||David Reutimann||Toyota||Burger King/Dr.Pepper||133.814|
|35||19||Mike Bliss(i)||Toyota||Plinker Tactical/Value Place||133.774|
|37||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Swan Racing||133.571|
|38||33||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||Little Joe's Autos||133.383|
|39||44||Scott Riggs(i)||Ford||No Label Watches||132.920|
|40||10||Danica Patrick #||Chevrolet||GoDaddy.com||132.890|
|42||32||Ken Schrader||Ford||Safe Skies Locks||131.747|
Starting positions 37-43 are provisional starts; however, only 43 cars entered for competition so no cars failed to make the race.