By Lee Montgomery
A pair of drivers expected to compete for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwode Series championship will look to rebound in this weekend's Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Brian Scott blew an engine and finished 34th at Daytona last week, with Aric Almirola struggling to a 19th-lace finish.
Scott is the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver signed up for the full Nationwide season, while Almirola drivers for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team.
Almirola isn't in as dire a situation as Scott. Almirola sits 11th in the Nationwide standings, 16 behind leader Landon Cassill.
"Last week was a tough race for our 88 team," Almirola said. "At Daytona you always want to come out of the box strong, and man, did we have a fast car. We definitely would have been up front with the leaders, but we had a motor issue and it cost us a good run. That's just part of racing. Sometimes things are just out of your control, and you've got to continue to be focused and move on.
"I'm confident we'll be strong at Phoenix, and it's going to be fun driving the TaxSlayer Chevrolet this weekend. It's a cool-looking car. I think it will look awesome on the track.
"Last fall at Phoenix we put together a good race. We were running well and then Pops (Tony Eury Sr., crew chief) made a call for a two-tire stop and that gave us the necessary track position our team needed. At these short tracks it's all about track position. Phoenix is a slick track and it can be tough to get your car handling well in Turns 1 and 2. But if you're successful in doing so, you can usually get hooked up in 3 and 4, too."
Scott was involved in an early accident that sent him to the garage before dropping out with engine problems. He's already 31 points out of the lead, in 23rd place.
"It's just really unfortunate," Scott said of the wreck. "These guys obviously put a lot of work in over the off-season on our Shore Lodge Toyota and it's not the way that anybody wants to start off the season."