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NASCAR Drivers to watch this weekend at PIR

[dropcap style=”style1″]H[/dropcap]aving completed the first three races making up the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, drivers and teams are now focused on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway for the next event, currently underway, the Good Sam 500.

Previously in Las Vegas, drivers had to endure high winds and a dust storm. Team Penske dominated as Brad Keselowski won the race, followed by teammate Joey Logano.

At this point in the series, the cars have been using the new lower downforce package and six drivers have finished in the top ten at each race while other drivers have suffered devastating blows and are in need of a change.

Here are drivers to watch this weekend at the Good Sam 500:

1. Matt Kenseth

Kenseth won the Sprint Cup in 2003 and over his career has had seemingly random results at PIR but has secured one victory in phoenix. In his last nine starts at PIR, Kenseth has had one top five and two top 10s. Currently he is 22nd in points for the 2016 season.

2. Greg Biffle

Biffle has led 389 laps at PIR and has had 24 starts here, earning five top fives and a pair of runner-up finishes. In his five most recent starts at PIR, Biffle has had an average finish of 18.2.

3. Chase Elliot

In the three races leading up to this event, Elliot has had two crashes, one regarded as his fault while the other was not. He has not yet raced in the Sprint Cup series at PIR but during his four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at PIR he has never finished worse then ninth.

4. Kyle Larson

With an average of 16.00, Larson has yet to lead a lap at PIR. This is his third season driving one of Chip Ganassi’s Chevrolet’s and 2016 has been a slow start.

5. Clint Bowyer

In 2012 Jeff Gordon crashed Bowyer at PIR and was a move that triggered a fight on pit road. Bowyer secured  a 13th place finish two years ago making it his only finish inside the top 20 in the last five starts he has had at PIR.

 6. Ryan Blaney

Blaney has competed in three Camping World Truck Series races and one Xfinity Series race at PIR. With his prior experience he shouldn’t have issues maneuvering his Sprint Cup Series car around the track.

7. Paul Menard 

Menard finished both races at PIR in the top 14 last year. He typically runs well early in the season and should manage to finish in the top 15 this weekend.

8. Austin Dillon 

Dillon has struggled at PIR in recent years, however in 2016 he is starting to show his edge and that he can compete with other top drivers in the Sprint Cup Series as he has finished 11th at Atlanta and fifth in Las Vegas.

9. Jimmie Johnson

Johnson has won four races at PIR, won the pole and finished fifth at the November 2015 race. Thus far, Johnson has proved to be one of the best drivers in 2016.

10. Kyle Busch

Busch missed the spring race at PIR last year but managed to finish fourth in November. His last seven races have resulted in a top five finish.

11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

Defending race winner and slated to run near the front on Sunday, Earnhardt has finished 5 of his last 6 races at PIR in the top eight position.

12. Joey Logano & Brad Keselowski 

Logano currently has the second-best driver rating and second-best average finishing position in his last four races at PIR while Keselowski has the third-best driver ranking and fourth-best average finishing position. Both drivers are a part of Team Penske and both dominated in Las Vegas despite the weather challenges.

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