Phoenix International Raceway is unlike any other NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup track for a variety of reasons. Chief among those, though, is the universal feeling that it's the great unknown of the 10-race playoffs. The track was resurfaced and reconfigured since the spring race and while teams have tested there, many wonder just what this race will bring. A year ago, it featured a battle between the men now fighting for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup crown, with Carl Edwards beating Tony Stewart in the race. This year, this race could go a long way toward determining who will be champion. So how have the 12 Chase drivers traditionally fared at the track?
Ryan Newman, 103 points back
Newman and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are mired in the final spot in the standings - but only by three points. Newman is four points out of the top 10 and has a chance to have a more active role in the annual banquet. At Phoenix, Newman has 18 starts. He has started from the pole position four times and has one win. Newman has six top-five finishes and has led 171 laps at the track, where he has an average finish of 19.3.
Kyle Busch, 100 points back
Busch spent the Texas race watching from the pit box after a penalty sidelined him for the Sprint Cup race. He heads to Phoenix looking to regain lost ground after a week in which a fine and probation were added to his penalty and his primary sponsor, M&M's, withdrew from his car for the final two races. In 13 starts at the track, Busch has one win. He has started from the pole position once. Busch has eight top-10 finishes, two of them top fives, and has led 220 laps at the track. He has an average finish of 12.9 at Phoenix.
Getty Images for NASCARJared C. Tilton
Denny Hamlin, 99 points back
Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team have endured a series of setbacks in the Chase this season, landing them in their current position of 10th. Hamlin is now battling to finish in that group instead of racing for the title. In 12 starts at Phoenix, he has earned the pole position once. He has six top-10 finishes, five of them top fives. Hamlin has led 292 laps at Phoenix and has an average finish of 11.6.
Kurt Busch, 87 points back
Busch and his Penske Racing team are almost two races behind the frontrunners in this season's Chase. Busch is fighting to remain in the top 10 in the standings. At Phoenix, he has made 17 starts. Busch has one win at the track, a place where he has led 691 laps. He has 10 top-10 finishes, four of them top fives, with an average finish of 12.9.
Jeff Gordon, 81 points back
The four-time champion looked like an early favorite in the Chase, but a series of setbacks have pushed him out of contention for the 2011 title. Still, Gordon could pick up ground at Phoenix. In 25 starts at Phoenix, Gordon has earned a pair of wins. He has 18 top-10 finishes, 10 of them top fives, and has started from the pole position three times. Gordon has led 388 laps at the track and carries an average finish of 10.0 at Phoenix.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 79 points back
Earnhardt Jr. and his Hendrick Motorsports team are looking to garner a win before season's end. Phoenix looks like a good opportunity to do just that. In 18 starts at Phoenix, Earnhardt Jr. has earned a pair of wins. He has eight top-10 finishes, four of them top fives, and has led 460 laps at the track. Earnhardt Jr. has an average finish of 18.0 at Phoenix.
Jimmie Johnson, 55 points back
Jimmie Johnson is accustomed to being in command at this point in the Chase. This year, though, the five-time defending champion is more than a race back in the standings. Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team could make up some ground this weekend, though. In 16 starts at Phoenix, Johnson has four wins - most among Chase drivers. He has 14 top-10 finishes, 11 of them top fives, for a stellar average finish of 4.8 at the track.
Brad Keselowski, 49 points back
Keselowski and his Penske Racing team haven't had a lot of experience at Phoenix. That could work out well for them, though, since everyone else will be adjusting their long-held beliefs on what works there. Keselowski has four starts at the track, but has yet to earn his first top-10 finish. He has an average finish of 27.5 at the site.
Matt Kenseth, 38 points back
Kenseth and his Roush Fenway Racing team turned in another solid effort at Texas, highlighting how much of a factor this group could have been if not for a late-race wreck earlier in the Chase. Still, he heads to Phoenix looking to gain ground once more. Kenseth has made 18 starts at Phoenix, winning once. He has eight top-10 finishes, five of them top fives, and has led 162 laps at the track. Kenseth has an average finish of 17.2 at the track.
Kevin Harvick, 33 points back
The Richard Childress Racing driver has watched his Chase chances dwindle in recent races. He is well off the pace, but still contending for a top season finish. He'll need both Edwards and Stewart to struggle, though, to break back into the title race. At Phoenix, Harvick has 17 starts. He has two wins with eight top-10 finishes, four of them top fives. He has led 317 laps at the track and tallied an average finish of 13.8.
Tony Stewart, 3 points back
Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing team have been on a roll in the Chase. Stewart has won four of the eight Chase races for one of the most prolific stretches in his career. Can he continue his run at Phoenix? In 19 starts at the track, he has one win. He has 10 top-10 finishes, seven of them top fives, and has led 386 laps. Stewart has an average Phoenix finish of 11.7.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver still has a grip on the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead, but only by a slim three-point edge. Edwards needs to win, and he and his team know it, to retake control of this Chase. Can he do that at Phoenix? He did a year ago. Edwards' lone win at Phoenix came in this race in 2010. In 14 starts at the track, he has nine top-10 finishes, five of them top fives. He also has snared three pole positions. Edwards has led 201 laps at the track and brings an average finish of 13.0 there into this race.