The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the second time this season as the season is winding down with just two races to go counting Sunday’s race.
The championship picture will be clear as we will know who will battle in Miami next weekend for the title. Last year, Kasey Kahne pulled the upset by winning this race. Earlier in the year, Denny Hamlin drove his No. 11 FedEx Toyota to victory lane. Will we see a third different winner on Sunday and will it happen in dramatic fashion?
The AdvoCare 500 has had some great moments in it’s history as these are the top five moments of this race.
Bobby Hamilton winning in the famed No. 43: October 27th, 1996
It had been 12 years since the No. 43 was in victory lane as Richard Petty took his STP sponsored car to his 200th win at Daytona in July of 1984. Fast forward just over 12 years and of all people Bobby Hamilton would return the 43 back to its rightful place in victory lane.
It was emotional to see the King get his first career win as a car owner while not behind the wheel. The car hasn’t been to victory lane much since that day as this race surely has to make this list.
Dale Earnhardt’s only Phoenix win: November 4th, 1990
In just the third year of the Cup Series visiting Phoenix, Dale Earnhardt notched his first and only win around the 1-mile oval. Earnhardt beat Ken Schrader by a mere 0.53 seconds, which is still the fifth closest finish in Phoenix history. Earnhardt would never win here again, but the win propelled him to a championship that season.
Mark Martin edges Ernie Irvan in closest finish: October 31st, 1993
It was the sixth year of the annual event and Mark Martin beat Ernie Irvan by the closest finish in Phoenix history that day. He won by just 0.19 seconds to earn his first career Phoenix win in the No. 6 Valvoline Ford. The finish is still the closest ever for this race as it’s the second closest finish in PIR history.
Ryan Newman edged Jeff Gordon in the spring race in 2010 by 0.13 seconds which to this day is still the closest finish.
Jimmie Johnson dominates Phoenix: November 15th, 2009
Johnson earned his fourth win in five tries at Phoenix by taking the checkered of the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 in the second to last race of the season in 2009. The win propelled Johnson to his fourth straight championship, which was a Cup record (before he won again the following year).
Johnson not only put his thumbprint on the Cup Series as the best ever that year, but his win in November propelled him to become the best ever at Phoenix.
Kasey Kahne pulls upset victory: November 13th, 2011
Last year’s race was special as it was the first time the cars raced at the track with a new configuration. After the spring race earlier in the year, worked reconfigured the exit of Turn 2 and added banking. When they returned in November it was a totally different track.
The race saw tons of action and many storylines that could have shaken the entire points standings up. Tony Stewart dominated, but pit strategy almost bit him in the rear in the end. Same thing for Carl Edwards as it was a cat and mouse game all day. The best car at the end ended up being Kasey Kahne as he surprised everyone is getting the win.
Kahne wasn’t a part of the Chase field last year, but was one of the best in the final 10 races. The win showed everyone Kahne can win in anything as he pulled the improbable upset win with the lame duck Red Bull Racing team.
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