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Phoenix International Raceway was carved out of the foothills of the Estrella Mountains in 1964.
it was intended for open wheel racing. Mario Andretti, A.J. IFoyt, Parnelli Jones and the Unsers soon came to love the one mile paved oval with the dogleg on the backstretch. Phoenix’s tourism industry was just starting to grow and its Western-style hospitality was second to none.
It wasn’t until 1988, however, when NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing came to PIR, that auto racing in Phoenix really became a major sporting attraction for the “Valley of the Sun.” New racing legends and legends-in-the-making like Davey Allison, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars found out firsthand what their open-wheel brethren had known for years: Phoenix International Raceway is truly a great place for racing, for drivers and fans alike.
Today, Phoenix has a tradition that is unmatched in the world of racing. Armed with a rich history of many forms of racing, PIR now counts its two NASCAR weekends as hallmark events. The annual fall weekend — now in its 21st year and includes races in all three major series and USAC — is one of the biggest events in the entire state. A second date was added in 2005; giving teams a second spring visit to the desert.
This unique one mile track sports 11 degrees of banking in turns 1-2and 9 degrees in turns 3-4; while it’s
frontstretch has 3 degrees and 9 degrees on backstretch.
Ryan Newman holds the track qualifying record in his No. 12 Alltel Dodge at 26.499 seconds, or 135.854 mph, set in November of 2004.
Race winners seem to be able to double up on there wins. Five times drivers have won twice in succession, but no one has ever won three in a row. Davey Allison started the trend in 1991-92, followed by Jeff Burton in 2000-01and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2003-04, Kevin Harvick won both races in 2006 and Jimmy Johnson has won the last two and has the ability to be the first to do a triple.
If he can pull off the triple at Phoenix; it may power him to his triple championship as well.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media