This weekend features a double-dip of NASCAR action at the Phoenix International Raceway. The NASCAR Nationwide Series competes Saturday with the Basha's Supermarkets 200, an event won by Kyle Busch in 2011. Sunday will then see the Sprint Cup superstars in action as Jeff Gordon attempts to repeat his win in last year's Subway Fresh Fit 500.
A total of 89 cars are in Phoenix entered this weekend, 44 for the Cup race and 45 for the Nationwide event.
All 44 teams on the Cup entry list attempted the Daytona 500, but a handful of driver changes have taken place. Rookies Josh Wise and Timmy Hill, the only two drivers to declare for this year's rookie award, are attempting their season debuts in the No. 26 Front Row Motorsports Ford (driven by Tony Raines in the 500) and the No. 37 Gunselman Motorsports Ford (Mike Wallace attempted the 500 but failed to get into the show), respectively.
Veteran Scott Riggs will try to qualify the No. 23 R3 Motorsports machine, which Robert Richardson Jr. tried unsuccessfully to put in the Daytona 500 field. Terry Labonte is out of the No. 32 Ford, which is now locked into the field via a points arrangement with Jack Roush and no longer needs his past champion's provisional to make the field. Mike Bliss will drive the Frank Stoddard-owned machine.
The No. 10 Chevrolet driven during Speedweeks by Danica Patrick will be at PIR, but David Reutimann is piloting the car. It is his first of 26 starts in the Tommy Baldwin Racing machine. The No. 93 BK Racing car he drove at Daytona will be filled this weekend by Travis Kvapil.
Only one Georgia native, David Ragan of Unadilla, is on the entry list. His No. 34 Front Row Motorsports entry will be sponsored this weekend by the popular Barrett Jackson collector car auctions, based in Scottsdale, AZ.
On the Nationwide side, the usual mix of established stars and up-and-comers will be trying to make the show. Danica Patrick, of course, is the headliner as she figures to be until fans and more importantly TV networks get used to the idea of having a gal with mainstream appeal in the field.
Busch, last year's winner, will be trying to qualify his self-owned No. 54 Toyota. He has the championship provisional at his disposal, having won the title in 2009, but 2010 champ Brad Keselowski would have first crack at it if his No. 22 Dodge cannot make the show on speed.
All told, there are six past series champions in the field, with Keselowski and Busch joined by Kevin Harvick (2001 and 2006), Joe Nemechek (1992) and brothers Jeff (2000) and David Green (1994).
As for Georgia representation, Lawrenceville's Casey Roderick will be attempting to qualify the No. 08 Ford Mustang while Chase Miller will try to get Curtis Key's No. 46 Chevrolet into the field after failing to make the show at Daytona. Notably absent from the entry list is Peachtree City's Reed Sorenson, who put Jimmy Means' No. 52 car in the field at Daytona but was involved in a hard crash in the race that saw him drive clear underneath Justin Allgaier's machine.