WHERE HE STANDS: 15th, 83 points out of 13th place. Lost one spot last week.
PHOENIX RECORD: One win and 10 top-10 finishes including six top-five’s in 16 starts. Finished second in the fall race a year ago.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards knows time is running out in his bid to win a race in 2012 and end his 67-race winless streak. “We have to have a fast car (this weekend at Phoenix) and we need to run well,” said Edwards. “I feel like if are pretty decent on the long run, we will have a chance to compete for the win. We need to have a good pit stall so we need to qualify well. Our team goal is to get our Fastenal Ford into victory lane before the end of the year.”
LOOKING BACK: Edwards wasn’t very happy after finishing 16th at Texas. “That wasn’t very much fun,” said Edwards. “We struggled a lot. I screwed up on pit road and ran over (tire-changer) Mike Lingerfelt and he jumped right back up and made a good stop. It was a very tough night. We struggled a lot with being loose off (the corner). I thought we would be better. Then I ran right into Mark (Martin) and didn’t give him enough room and tore up our car. It was just a frustrating night.”
ETC.: Car owner Jack Roush feels the organization’s most significant accomplishment is “the fact we’ve been able to survive for 25 years in Cup racing. That is more important to me than 300 wins. I remember our first race was the Daytona 500 (in 1988) and we didn’t have a garage (stall) to start with and then they finally gave us one down at the very end when somebody who had more standing didn’t come. We’ve climbed the ladder.”
27 PAUL MENARD, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 16th, 110 points out of 13th place.
PHOENIX RECORD: Finished ninth a year ago in the fall race for his lone top-10 finish in 11 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Menard said, “We ran well at Phoenix last fall and we were on our way to a top-10 finish in March when three of us got together coming off of turn four and we wound up wrecking. I feel good about this weekend. We’ve run strong on the newly resurfaced tracks this year and last. That’s another reason why I feel so good about going back to Phoenix.”
LOOKING BACK: Menard struggled with an ill-handling race car for most of the race as he finished 27th at Texas. “It’s hard to believe that this is the same car we finished third with at Kansas Speedway just a couple of weeks ago,” said Menard. “We struggled from the time we unloaded on Friday morning and just never could pinpoint the issue. We tried every possible adjustment you can make on a race car, but nothing seemed to work.”
ETC.: Menard said RCR team is already looking forward to 2013 and the new car all of the teams will be racing next year. “That’s where our engineering focus is right now – on the new car,” said Menard. “With the season about over, we will be spending less time on the 2012 cars and more focus on the 2013 cars.”
20 JOEY LOGANO, Toyota
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 17th, 130 points out of 13th place.
PHOENIX RECORD: Finished 10th in the March event for his third top-10 finish in seven starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Logano call Phoenix “one of my better tracks. They changed things around when they repaved the place last year and that made it a whole new animal. But we’ve had a lot of success there since the change. It is one of my favorite places to go on the schedule. I’m looking forward to maybe getting out of there with a win or at least a top-five finish.”
LOOKING BACK: Despite suffering a cut left-rear tire on the last lap of the race, Logano was able to finish 11th at Texas. “That was a solid day for our Home Depot Toyota,” said Logano. “I feel like we finished about where we should have. But I also think we were only a tenth of a second or so off (a lap) from being a top-five car. We just lost the handle when the sun went down and couldn’t really get it back. We just couldn’t get it to where I could really hustle the car.”
ETC.: Logano has only two races “left with the 20 guys and we want to go out with the best finishes that we can. We’ve been able to win four races with Dollar General on the car in the Nationwide Series this year, and it would be even better to send them off with a bang in the Cup Series and give them their first Cup win.”
9 MARCOS AMBROSE, Ford
Team: Richard Petty Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: 18th, 156 points out of 13th place.
PHOENIX RECORD: One top-10 finish in eight starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ambrose said, “I like short-track racing and Phoenix has always been a good track to me. We’ve got a good little short-track program at Richard Petty Motorsports, and I know my Ford Fusion is going to be fast when we unload. We were running in the top three this spring when we had engine issues with just a few laps remaining. That gives me a lot of confidence going into this weekend.”
LOOKING BACK: A flat right-front tire sent Ambrose hard into the wall with only 24 laps to go. The damage was severe enough that Ambrose was unable to continue as he ended the day in 32nd place. “Working with Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) this weekend (for the first time) was very encouraging,” said Ambrose. “It’s a shame that we didn’t get the result we deserved. I felt like Drew and I had good chemistry and communicated well today, which allowed us to improve our Mac Tools Ford throughout the race.”