NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Ruoff Mortgage 500
The Place: Phoenix Raceway
The Date: Sunday, March 13
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,039,168
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)
2021 Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: United Rentals 200
The Place: Phoenix Raceway
The Date: Saturday, March 12
The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,344,059
TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2021 Race Winner: Austin Cindric
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Fr8 208
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 19
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $669,442
TV: FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 208 miles (135 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 135)
2021 Race Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Cup Series
Phoenix Raceway sets the stage for the NASCAR Cup Series
Since the NASCAR Cup Series was last at Phoenix Raceway in January for the final stages of Next Gen car testing, the whole industry has leaned-in to make the start of the 2022 season a success.
The first three races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season have produced three different race winners in as many races – Austin Cindric (Daytona), Kyle Larson (Auto Club) and Alex Bowman (Las Vegas) – and three different pole winners – Kyle Larson (Daytona), Austin Cindric (Auto Club) and Christopher Bell (Las Vegas).
The racing upfront has been intense. The first three races of the season have produced 25 different lap leaders – the most since 2013 (also with 25) – and an average of 30 lead changes per race – the most through the first three races since 2011 (41.0).
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 194 green flag passes for the lead; the third-most since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (last 16 seasons) behind 2014 (246) and 2010 (230).
Now, the series heads to Phoenix Raceway for the Next Gen car’s competitional debut on a 1-mile track for the Ruoff Mortgage 500 this Sunday, March 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Phoenix Raceway has hosted 51 NASCAR Cup Series races prior to this weekend producing 26 different pole winners and 27 different race winners.
Ryan Newman (2002, 2003, 2004, 2008) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch (2006, 2012, 2016, 2019) lead the series in poles at Phoenix with four each. 11 of the 26 Phoenix Raceway pole winners are active this weekend.
|Rank||Active Pole Winners||Poles||Seasons|
|1||Kyle Busch||4||2019, 2016, 2012, 2006|
|2||Ryan Blaney||2||2019, 2017|
|3||Kevin Harvick||2||2018, 2015|
|4||Martin Truex Jr||2||2018, 2009|
|5||Denny Hamlin||2||2014, 2005|
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at Phoenix Raceway with nine victories (2006 sweep, 2012 Playoff race, 2013 Playoff race, 2014 sweep, 2015 Spring race, 2016 Spring race, 2018 Spring race) – the most by an active driver at single track. Eight of the 27 NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway winners are active this weekend.
|1||Kevin Harvick||9||2018, 2016, 2015, 2014 sweep, 2013, 2012, 2006 sweep|
|2||Kyle Busch||3||2019, 2018, 2005|
|3||Joey Logano||2||2020, 2016|
|4||Denny Hamlin||2||2019, 2012|
|6||Martin Truex Jr||1||2021|
All the action begins with practice on Saturday, March 12 from 1:30 – 2:05 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 2:05 – 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
Hendrick Motorsports’ strategy and talent put the series on notice
With their NASCAR Cup Series leading 282nd victory and second consecutive win of the 2022 season (Auto Club, Las Vegas), Hendrick Motorsports has quickly put the competition in the garage on notice.
In a highly strategic move last weekend at Las Vegas following a late caution in the race, three of the Hendrick Motorsports cars took two tires on the final pit stop beating the field off pit road and then chose to lineup with two cars on the front row and one on the inside lane virtually ‘boxing-out’ the competition at the final restart heading into overtime. The outcome was racing mastery at the team level that worked to perfection and as a result, it was a battle amongst Hendrick teammates to decide the race.
In a door-to-door overtime contest Alex Bowman out drove Kyle Larson in the final laps and claimed his first win of the season and seventh of his career. With the Las Vegas victory, Bowman jumped 17 spots in the series driver standings up to eighth; just 33 points back from his teammate Kyle Larson in the standings lead and locked himself into the Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
Since the start of the 2021 season to now, Hendrick Motorsports has won 19 races – double that of the next highest organization during the same time frame (Joe Gibbs Racing, nine wins)
Plus, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, has returned to the top of the series driver standings following his win at Auto Club Speedway and runner-up finish last weekend at Las Vegas. Chase Elliott ranks seventh in the standings, followed by Bowman in eighth and William Byron is 21st.
Hendrick Motorsports now turns their attention to Phoenix Raceway where they lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins with 12 victories; including the last two Championship races: Terry Labonte (1994), Kyle Busch (2005), Jeff Gordon (2007, 2011), Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep, 2009), Mark Martin (2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015), Chase Elliott (2020), Kyle Larson (2021).
With a victory this weekend, Larson can become the seventh different driver to win consecutive Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway; joining Davey Allison (1991,1992), Jeff Burton (2000, 2001), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2004), Kevin Harvick (swept 2006, 2013 Playoff race, swept 2014 and 2015 spring race), Jimmie Johnson (fall race of 2007, swept 2008), and Kyle Busch (2018 Playoff race, 2019).
Dominators in the Valley of the Sun
Four former Phoenix Raceway multi-win drivers return to the Valley of the Sun looking for their first victory of the 2022 season, and the 1-mile track nestled in the Arizona desert just might be the kick start to the year they are looking for.
2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick returns to Phoenix Raceway as the series leader in wins at the track with nine victories. Now, the 46-year-old veteran has the opportunity to become just the sixth driver all-time to win 10 or more races at a single track in the NASCAR Cup Series with a win this weekend. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most tracks with 10 or more wins with five.
Drivers with 10 or More NASCAR Cup Series Wins at a Single Track
|Race Winners||No. of Tracks||Tracks With 10 or More Wins|
|Richard Petty||5||Martinsville (15), North Wilkesboro (15), Richmond (13), Rockingham (11) Daytona (10)|
|Darrell Waltrip||3||Bristol (12), Martinsville (11), North Wilkesboro (10)|
|Jimmie Johnson||1||Dover (11)|
|David Pearson||1||Darlington (10)|
|Dale Earnhardt||1||Talladega (10)|
Harvick has not won in the NASCAR Cup Series since September 19, 2020 at Bristol Motor Speedway, a total of 46 races ago. Harvick has made 38 career starts at Phoenix posting two poles, nine wins, 18 top fives and 27 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 8.8. He finished sixth in the Phoenix Spring race last season.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team and Kyle Busch overcame a mountain of issues last weekend working to get a back-up car ready for the race after spinning in practice. Then Busch put up a race-high Place Differential of +33 positions; racing his way up from the 37th starting position to finish fourth. Busch returns to Phoenix hoping to get his first win of the season. Busch has the second-most wins at the 1-mile track in the series among active drivers with three (2006, 2018, 2019). Busch’s last Cup win was on June 27, 2021 at Pocono Raceway – 20 races ago. In his last start at Phoenix (Nov.) he finished seventh.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano also has multiple wins at Phoenix Raceway in his NASCAR Cup Series career (2016, 2020) and is looking for his first win of this season. Logano’s last Cup win was at the Bristol Dirt track on March 29, 2021 – 32 races ago. Logano has made 26 series starts at Phoenix collecting one pole, two wins, seven top fives and 14 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 13.3. He finished runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in the Phoenix Spring race last season.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is not having the start to the season he was hoping for but can right the ship this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, a track he has won at multiple times (2012, 2019). Hamlin has finished 37th (Daytona), 15th (Auto Club) and 32nd (Las Vegas) and finds himself buried in the point standings heading into this weekend. Denny Hamlin’s last win was on September 26, 2021 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – nine races ago. Hamlin has made 33 series starts at Phoenix putting up two poles, two wins, 16 top fives and 20 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 10.5. Hamlin finished third in the Phoenix Spring race last season.
TrackHouse Racing is making Ross Chastain’s dreams come true
Driver Ross Chastain has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2017, and this season he finally feels like he is in cars that can win.
“Dream come true,” exclaimed Chastain following his performance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last Sunday. “This is what all the work is for. This is why we train, done our whole lives and careers, once we realize we can race at this level is to have race cars like that. Couldn’t be more proud of Trackhouse. …”
Trackhouse Racing signed Chastain to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet for 2022 after purchasing the assets of the Chip Ganassi Racing organization, the very team the Florida native, Chastain, was at the time racing for. But it wasn’t until this past weekend at Las Vegas that Chastain has had a breakout performance in the series.
At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Chastain led a race-high 83 laps in the Pennzoil 400. It was the most laps he has led in a single NASCAR Cup Series race. The 83 laps led performance also eclipses his entire career’s laps led total in the NASCAR Cup Series prior to the event (75 laps).
For the first time in his career, Chastain produced the best post-race Driver Rating in a NASCAR Cup Series event with a rating of 128.3. The next highest Driver Rating from the Las Vegas race was the event’s winner – Alex Bowman’s 118.2. Chastain also ran upfront most of the day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and produced a race-best Average Running Position of 3.82. The next highest Average Running Position from the event was William Byron’s 6.48.
But possibly what’s most impressive, is how Chastain was able to race his way to the front. He started 18th and finished third producing the third-most Place Differential in the Pennzoil 400 advancing +15 positions from where he started to where he finished the race – Kyle Busch (+33 positions) and Kurt Busch (+18) are the only two drivers to better Chastain in Place Differential in the event.
Chastain will hope to keep his early season success rolling this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. The 29-year-old has made seven starts at the 1-mile track posting an average finish of 23.1.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie Update – Team Penske’s Austin Cindric continues to lead the 2022 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following the third race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 103 points, followed by Todd Gilliland (-59 points) and Harrison Burton (-69).
All three rookies will be making their NASCAR Cup Series career track debuts this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
Bowman, McDowell are heading back home – It’s been a busy week for the NASCAR Cup Series most recent winner and Arizona native Alex Bowman, following his big win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now the series heads to his home track of Phoenix Raceway for the Ruoff Mortgage 500.
A total of 33 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Arizona. Of the 33 Arizona drivers, only two drivers have won a NASCAR national series race.
|Alex Bowman (Tucson)||7||1||0||8|
|Michael McDowell (Glendale)||1||1||0||2|
NASCAR Xfinity Series
JGR’s Ty Gibbs wins big in Vegas, looks to carry momentum to Phoenix
Last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year and Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Ty Gibbs, won his first race of the 2022 season in the ALSCO Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend. The win marked the fifth victory in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, having previously won at the Daytona Road Course, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International and Kansas Speedway during his rookie campaign last season. Now the rising star is looking to keep the momentum going this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
It’s no surprise that the 19-year-old, Gibbs, has had success in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career thus far. With Coy Gibbs and NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs to show you the ropes, one can assume that Ty Gibbs is gaining a lot of expertise – and it shows. Last season. Gibbs became the sixth driver in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to win in his series debut, joining Dale Earnhardt (Daytona, 1982), Joe Ruttman (Dover, 1982), Ricky Rudd (Dover, 1983), Terry Labonte (Charlotte, 1985) and Kurt Busch (Texas, 2006). That same season, he also won the ARCA Menards Series Championship and of course, the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.
Gibbs will look to post his second win of the season at Phoenix Raceway this weekend. He currently sits in second place in the series driver standings with 127 points, just 17 points behind Noah Gragson in the standings lead. Gibbs was impressive in his series track debut at Phoenix Raceway last season (Spring race); he started 27th and raced his way up to a runner-up finish.
NASCAR Xfinity Series stays in the desert
For the fourth race of the season, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is jumping from Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Phoenix Raceway for the United Rentals 200 on Saturday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
This will be the 41st NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 1-mile track that has had 20 different pole winners and 21 different race winners in the series. Kyle Busch leads the Xfinity Series with 11 wins (2007, 2008, 2010, twice in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019) and 10 poles at Phoenix.
Fans were last in Phoenix for the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship and saw Daniel Hemric beat Austin Cindric by a margin of 0.030-second, which is the smallest margin of victory in Phoenix Raceway history for a NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
Hemric returns to Phoenix Raceway this weekend hoping to become the third different driver to win back-to-back races at the 1-mile track; joining Kyle Busch (2007-2008; 2013 sweep-2014; 2015-2016 sweep) and Austin Cindric (2020-2021).
Joining Hemric for a shot at a second victory at Phoenix Raceway is his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones who won in 2020. Also, on the list of previous winners competing this weekend is JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier, who is looking for a three-peat after having won in 2017 and 2019.
It appears the three drivers are itching for their first win of the season as they all posted a top-10 finish last weekend at Las Motor Speedway – Hemric (third-place), Allgaier (fifth-place) and Jones (10th–place).
Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update
Through three this season the 2022 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings are starting to tighten up. Following his Daytona win to open the season Austin Hill still leads the rookie standings with 74 points, followed by Sheldon Creed with 66 points, Kyle Sieg with 21 points and Jesse Iwuji with 14 points.
For the driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, things are starting look up. Sheldon Creed posted his second top-10 finish this season, finishing the ALSCO Uniforms 300 in seventh. His other top 10 was in Daytona where he placed sixth.
But for Creed’s RCR teammate Austin Hill, things haven’t gone as planned after his win in Daytona. This past weekend in Las Vegas, he was involved in an incident that left him in 31st place.
Jesse Iwuji also met the same fate in Las Vegas, finishing in 34th-place after an incident with 44 laps to go.
Heading into Phoenix, three of the four rookies made their NASCAR Xfinity Series track debut at Phoenix Raceway last November with Sheldon Creed putting up the best finish with a 10th, followed by Kyle Sieg’s 27th and Jesse Iwuji’s 30th. Austin Hill is the lone rookie this weekend making his series track debut.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Different Faces in Familiar Places – This weekend in Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage fans will notice several different faces piloting the cars they have become familiar with in the United Rentals 200 on Saturday.
Joe Gibbs Racing has tapped 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne to jump back in the No. 18 Toyota this weekend in Phoenix. Bayne has made 10 Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix collecting one top-five and six top-10 finishes. His last start at Phoenix in the series was back in 2014.
Sam Hunt Racing will have NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star John Hunter Nemechek grappling the No. 26 Toyota this weekend in Phoenix. Look for Nemechek to have a good run this weekend, in his four previous starts at the 1-mile track he has posted one top five and four top 10s.
And Reaume Brothers Racing is welcoming our international friend Loris Hezemans, from Eindhoven, Netherlands, to pilot the No. 33 Toyota this weekend. Hezemans will attempt to make his 2022 season debut and just his second series career start at Phoenix Raceway. In his first start at the 1-mile track he started 40th and finished 31st in this race last season.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith leads Truck Series points for first time in his career
For the first time in Kyle Busch Motorsport driver Chandler Smith’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, he’s the driver points standings leader.
With his big win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 19-year-old jumped from sixth in the series’ points to first, and now holds a five-point margin over Team DGR’s Tanner Gray in second and 15 points up on ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski in third place. The Vegas victory was his first Camping World Truck Series win at the 1.5-mile facility and the third of his series career.
Smith will look to hold onto his spot atop the standings lead at the newly redone Atlanta Motor Speedway, when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Saturday, March 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET (on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the Fr8 208 race. Smith made his Truck Series track debut at Atlanta last season, but he struggled starting 11th and finishing 35th.
Matt DiBenedetto has Rackley W.A.R running upfront early
Rackley W.A.R. and Matt DiBenedetto are off to great start for 2022, with back-to-back top-10 finishes to open the season at Daytona (10th) and Las Vegas (sixth). It’s the best start to a season for Rackley W.A.R. since joining the series last year and the first time the team has posted multiple top-10 finishes in a season.
DiBenedetto’s experience has been a certain boost to the organization this season. The 30-year-old from Grass Valley, California spent the last seven seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series refining his skills and working with teams like Leavine Family Racing and the famed Wood Brothers Racing.
Though in his first season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he has meshed quite quickly with crew chief Chad Kendrick and the No. 25 Chevrolet team. The two jumped eight spots in the series driver standings with their performance at Las Vegas and now are ranked sixth just 29 points back from the standings lead.
Next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, DiBenedetto will be making his Truck Series track debut at the recently reconfigured 1.54-mile track. Though, the veteran does have seven NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track posting one top-10 finish.
Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith has some rebounding to do
After nearly winning last week’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway race, Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith crossed the finish line runner-up, but his No. 38 Ford failed post-race inspection and his result was disqualified. Smith instead finished last (36th), and now the Californian has dropped from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points lead to 12th in the driver standings; 40 points behind Chandler Smith in the standings lead.
When the series returns to the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Zane Smith will have his work cut out for him. The 22-year-old is locked into the Playoffs thanks to his win in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, but that all is contingent if he can stay in the top-20 in points and competes fulltime in the series.
Look for Smith to rebound when the series returns to Atlanta, in two starts he has put up one top-five and two top 10s. His average finish at the 1.54-mile track is a solid 5.5.
Team DGR has Tanner Gray off to best start to a season in his career
In his third season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Team DGR, Tanner Gray is off to the best start to a season in his career after posting two top-five finishes in as many races. Now the North Carolina native finds himself second in the series driver standings – the highest Gray has ranked in the points in his series career – just five points back from series standings leader Chandler Smith.
Gray’s previous best career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings position was fourth last week following Daytona, but prior to that it was 12th in 2020.
In 2022, Gray has been paired with veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter. The duo has been quick from the drop of the green flag; finishing fourth to open the season at Daytona and then followed it up with a fifth-place finish last weekend at Las Vegas.
Looking to Atlanta, Gray has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the track posting an average finish of 15.0.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie Class Update: Dean Thompson wins rookie of the race at Vegas – Through two races the 2022 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series have been led by Niece Motorsports’ Lawless Alan (with 30 points), followed by Dean Thompson (-3), Jack Wood (-14), Corey Heim (-18) and Blaine Perkins (-22). Alan won the Rookie of the Race award for Daytona and Thompson won it at Las Vegas.
Atlanta Motor Speedway is up next for Trucks – The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to the newly repaved and reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 19 for the Fr8 208 (on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of a doubleheader afternoon with the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the Nalley Cars 250, at 5 p.m. ET.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has hosted 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series but since the series has last been there the track has undergone a reprofiling and now more resembles a quad-oval layout. Also, as part of the updates, the banking was increased in the turns from 24 to 28 degrees. The banking will remain at five degrees on the straights. Additionally, the racing surface will become narrower with an overall decrease in width from 55 feet to 40 feet. The new widths will be 52 feet on the front stretch, 42 feet on the back stretch and 40 feet in the turns.
Since this will be the first time the series has competed on the new track teams will have 50 minutes of practice on Friday, March 18 at 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place on Saturday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
— NASCAR —