Then There Were Two

Blake Smith is here with his review of the week and a look at the next t last race for the Cup.

The magic number for this week is two.

There are two races left in the season and two real contenders remain for the Championship. Following a blown tire in last week’s 500 miles at Texas, Jeff Gordon was removed from the picture as a championship hopeful. A speeding penalty put Matt Kenseth’s team in catch up mode and Jimmie Johnson … well his day was almost flawless. Johnson won the race and led the most laps in the race padding his point lead on the #20 team by seven points.

Burton to make 1000th Career NASCAR Start

 Jeff Burton will make his 1000th career start on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. During a NASCAR career spanning 25 years, Burton has earned 48 wins in NASCAR’s top three series. "I've been lucky and blessed to have family and friends that have given me all this support. I also have good relationships with everyone that I've worked with over the years to show for it, which is most important to me." Burton currently sets 19th in the Sprint Cup Series standings and doesn’t have a confirmed ride for 2014.

Possible Crew Chief Change for McMurray in 2014

A rumor in the Sprint Cup Series garage indicates there will be a new face atop the pit box for Jamie McMurray’s #1 Chevrolet next season. It is rumored that current crew chief, Kevin Manion will depart from the team for a management role at Turner Scott Motorsports. Keith Rodden could be Manion’s replacement at Earnhardt-Ganassi. Rodden is currently the race engineer for #5 Kasey Kahne.

IRS says Montoya owes $2.7 Million

 The Internal Revenue Service is demanding $2.7 million in extra taxes and penalties from Juan Montoya. The IRS advised that Montoya and his wife reported $2.4 Million on their joint tax returns in the years 2007 and 2008 even though they had 9.5 Million in taxable income. Coincidentally, he recently signed to drive in 2014 on the IndyCar team of Roger Penske, the billionaire CEO of Penske Automotive Group. That team already includes Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who placed second this year on the IndyCar circuit and is known off of the track for winning “Dancing With The Stars” and for his 2009 jury acquittal on federal felony tax evasion charges.

Race Preview: Advocare 500 K

There have been 23 different NASCAR Sprint Cup race winners at Phoenix International Raceway, with eight of those being repeat winners. This Sunday, 43 of NASCAR’s top stars will race in the 35th race at the Avondale, AZ track.

The inaugural Sprint Cup Series Race at Phoenix International Raceway was held in the fall of 1988. In that inaugural event, the late Alan Kulwicki took the checkered flag. The Phoenix Race has been a corner stone in the fall of each NASCAR schedule since then and an added race in the Spring since 2005.

The Sprint Cup Series will have one pre-qualifying practice session prior to this evening’s qualifying session. Qualifying is very important at Phoenix, like many of the flatter tracks due to track position being a major component in the race. With many of the top teams being so close competitively, a car capable of winning, with a bad starting spot could mean you struggle for a top 10 at the end of the day.

Saturday’s schedule includes two race practice sessions to prepare for Sunday’s race. An advantage teams will have this weekend is the forecast looks to be consistent for the weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the lower 80’s. This will allow teams to focus completely on their setups without having to predict what the weather may or may not do to the track conditions.

Blake’s Pick:

My pick for this weekend is also my pick for the championship…that leaves two available options, right? Let me be more clear…the driver I am picking has a Sprint Cup Series Championship. Shoot…still not clear. Well…not only does he have 1 championship, he has 5. With a new car this weekend and Hendrick’s past domination at Phoenix, my pick is Jimmie Johnson!

Patrick Smith\Getty Images

Moon’s Pick:

Jonathan Ferrey\Getty Images

DANICA! Go Mama, Go Little Mama!

Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the Advocare 500K from Phoenix beginning at 1PM on WBKR and!