NASCAR Nationwide Series – WYPALL 200 from Phoenix International Raceway

The boys, and girls of NASCAR stop by Phoenix International Raceway twice a year and the November race looked to be an exciting weekend of racing because Phoenix had been called “the wildcard” by most of the media due to the new track surface and “configuration.” From my perspective there didn’t seem to be much of a change to the shape or distance of the track however, they did raise the back part of the track several feet allowing fans to see the cars on the back straight from the grandstands along the front straight but, the shape and distance didn’t change.

10 November 2011: Sam Hornish Jr. (12) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

To see more of the story and images, click on the more link below.

The big story of the weekend was the Sprint Cup Chase between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart and how Phoenix was the “wildcard” track in the Chase races. Over the last few years Carl Edwards has done very well on the Phoenix track, winning both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, qualifying well and generally having this track dialed. That was on the old surface, this was a new surface and an entirely different ballgame.

10 November 2011: Carl Edwards (60) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Edwards was fast in practice, but not as dominate as he had been in years past.

It seemed like Carl Edwards was just a tiny bit off the pace and a bit distracted with the Chase for the Cup race on Sunday. The Nationwide race looked like it was not going to be the usual suspects for a number of reasons.

10 November 2011: Joey Logano (18) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

One of those reasons being, Kyle Busch was in trouble with NASCAR for, well you know, being Kyle Busch, and taking out Ron Hornaday in the truck race so Joey Logano was in Kyle’s Number 18 Nationwide car.

10 November 2011: Danica Patrick (7) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Although not much of a factor in the racing, the media always ends up talking a bit about Danica Patrick because she is a woman and NASCAR brought her in to help pump up the female fan base so the spotlight is on her for this weekend as well.

10 November 2011: Brad Keselowski (22) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Brad Keselowski is one of the young guns of the NASCAR show and the new Dodge cars were looking good during practice.

The practice sessions were uneventful.

10 November 2011: Steve Wallace (66) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

I did manage to get a few nice shots during the practice session like this one of the exhaust flames from the Toyota of Steve Wallace.

10 November 2011: Ricky Carmichael (34) takes hot laps during a practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

I’m always looking to see how former supercross star Ricky Carmichael does in the truck series, but this year he is also running in the Nationwide series so make sure to get a few shots of him.

12 November 2011: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is another rising star in the Nationwide series to keep an eye on and the new Ford Mustang is a good-looking car out there on the track.

12 November 2011: Trevor Bayne (16) and Aric Almirola (88) side by side coming out of turn 4 during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Aric Almirola started on the pole and was looking fast for the first half of the race. In the above shot he fights for position with Trevor Bayne coming out of turn 4.

Danica managed to get tangled up in the opening laps and the rest of the day didn’t seem to go her way.

Danica manage to limp her car in for repairs but was off the pace the rest of the day.

12 November 2011: Aric Almirola (88) leads Carl Edwards (60) and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Carl Edwards look fast, but for the entire first half of the race it was Aric Almirola leading the race and not a lot of passing on track.

Most of the drivers were looking for the fast line through the turns, some worked the line while others tried lines higher up.

12 November 2011: Sam Hornish Jr. (12) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

A few cars back in the pack Sam Hornish Jr. and Elliot Sadler quietly waited for just the right moment to make their moves.

12 November 2011: Mike Wallace (01) (center) fights through traffic during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

There were some mid-pack fighting going on that was fun to watch, and as the race progressed grip started to improve for some of the drivers.

Sam Hornish Jr. had a really nice looking paint scheme on his car, and if I understand correctly does not have a ride for the 2012 NASCAR Season which is too bad, because he was looking good out there.

Carl Edwards slipped back and was playing it safe working for manufacture points in the Nationwide Series.

I thought Carl Edwards was going to work his way to the front and we would see him in Victory Lane at the end of the day.

It turns out we would see a newcomer in Victory Lane for this race and I’m happy to see Sam Hornish Jr. win this race.

12 November 2011: Clint Bowyer (33) (center) looks for a way around Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6) (left) during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race, WYPALL* 200 powered by Kimberly-Clark Professional at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale Arizona.

Three drivers in a row makes for a nice picture as the drivers exit turn 4 at Phoenix International Raceway.

In the end Sam Hornish Jr. would take the big prize.

I’m happy for Sam Hornish Jr. and I hope the win will help him get a ride for the 2012 season.

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