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Phoenix International Raceway is a track that is well known on the NASCAR circuit. The unique dog leg, dessert sands, and the blistering sun makes Phoenix one of the most physically demanding races on the circuit. However, drivers did not have to worry about the sun as much as usual, as NASCAR made the first night race at Phoenix. Kurt Busch virtually dominated the Subway Fresh 500, and took his first win of the season. This dominance overshadowed much of the major events that occured under the lights, which means that it is time to sit back, relax, and read on in this edition of the Top Spot.
Bobby Labonte was the top driver of the day. He did not lead many laps, nor did he make a bid for the win, however Labonte did manage to score his first top 10 finish of the season. The Phoenix event shows that Labonte is starting to get back to his succesful ways, and that he has taken one more step in avoiding the dissapointment and the heartache that has plagued him for much of 2005.
Jimmie Johnson suffered the top dissapointment of the evening. Johnson avoided trouble throughout the event, and seemed on track for another top 10 finish. However, continuing his streak of consecutive top 10 finishes was not in the cards, and Johnson finished in 15th, outside of the top ten for the first time in 14 races.
Michael Waltrip made the top surprise of the day, as he found himself in a position to earn his first non-restrictor-plate points race in his Nextel Cup career. However, he was unable to make the winning pass on Kurt Busch, and ended the night in second, his best finish of the season. Waltrip’s runner up position moved him up six positions in the championship standings, and he is now 18th in the standings, only 94 points out of tenth place.
Jeff Burton is the recipient of the “attaboy” award, as he finished third in the event. It was his best finish in the 2005 season, and moved him only 81 points out of tenth place in the championship standings.
Next weekend, the NASCAR boys make their first of two visits to the high bankings of Talladega Superspeedway. It is nearly impossible to predict a winner at a track like Talladega, however history has shown us that we can expect a DEI and Hendrick dominance. In narrowing it, I believe Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Junior will be battling for the Aarons 499 trophy.
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