AVONDALE, Ariz. – Two years ago, Jeff Gordon and No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson won at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in only their second event working together. A lot has changed since then. A lot has changed since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced here in November.
After the event won by the No. 24 team in 2011, PIR was repaved and reconfigured. The relatively new layout – along with numerous offseason changes – could prove to be the biggest challenge to date for the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet SS team.
“This weekend will be one of the most difficult and challenging ever,” Gustafson said. “Our new Chevy SS has significantly more downforce than last year’s car. With the new Gen-6 car, the new rules, a new tire compound and new inspection process, we don’t really have anything that we can base this weekend off of.
“I guess the weather is usually the same each time we race here, so that’s at least one ‘known.’”
In 28 starts at the one-mile track, Gordon has two wins (2007 and