Phoenix Raceway, Phoenix, AZ — March 13, 2022
All eyes in the NASCAR community will be on Phoenix Raceway today to see how the new Next-Gen car performs on the track that will again host the championship race in November. For the spring race will we see another new winner or will we have a repeat from the trio of Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson, or Alex Bowman?
Kevin Harvick In Search of a Unique Record
Of the active drivers on the Cup Series, Kevin Harvick has had the most success at Phoenix.
|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|
Only five drivers in the history of NASCAR’s premier series have won 10 races 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 would like to join the four Hall of Famers and one “certain to be” by adding his name to the list of NASCAR greats. He starts 16th today in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.
He can tie another record today, only Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt have 18 consecutive Top 10 finishes at a single track. Harvick’s current streak at Phoenix sits at 17.
Top Tens This Season
Aric Almirola, the driver of the Smithfield Ford Mustang, is the only one to post top-10 finishes in each of the first three races in 2022 as he extended the streak on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a sixth-place showing. He finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 and was sixth at Auto Club Speedway. Almirola, who is in his final year of full-time competition, has seven top-10 finishes in 22 career starts at Phoenix Raceway.
Ford Performance has 17 series wins at Phoenix Raceway.
TrackHouse Racing is Making Ross Chastain’s Dreams Come True
Another driver to watch today is Ross Chastain, he 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 car 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).
The Ruoff Mortgage 500 will run 312 laps around the one-mile speedway. Stages are 60/125/127 laps. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race champion. Ryan Blaney put his Team Penske Ford Mustang on the pole for today’s race. Denny Hamlin joins him on the front row.
Inspection problems continue to plague teams as nine drivers were sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race due to inspection failures. Tyler Reddick, Garrett Smithley, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Todd Gilliland, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, and Landon Cassill will pull out of line and drop to the back prior to the green flag.
Ryan Blaney(12) shot off from the pole into the lead on Lap One and led until NASCAR displayed the yellow flag on Lap 25 for a competition caution. He retained the lead off of pit road followed by Denny Hamlin(11). But, not for long. NASCAR flagged both drivers for speeding on pit road and sent them to the back of the pack for the restart.
One question everyone wanted to know was; “Would the new car be able to transition to the flat bottom of the track and cut the dog leg given the low clearance of the Next-Gen design?” Kyle Busch(18) answered that early as he repeatedly dropped down and passed cars taking the shortcut.
Four and five wide racing scrambled the running order and the short First Stage ended with William Byron taking the green and white checkered flag.
Stage One Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Pit strategies were all over the board as some drivers stopped prior to the end of the Stage. Some drivers took only two tires on the Stage ending pit stop to gain track position. When everything sorted out it was Blaney, Busch, Chase Elliott(9), and Cole Custer(41) leading the pack back to the restart.
Blaney, again displaying the fastest car in clean air, pulled away at the front of the field. He led until Christopher Bell(20) cut down a rear tire and spun out causing NASCAR to waive the caution flag on Lap 118. The leaders pitted and Elliott was out the quickest out to take over the top spot. Blaney, William Byron(24), Kevin Harvick(4), and Kyle Larson(5) made up the top five.
Blaney stuck his nose out front briefly into Turn One on the restart. However, Elliott, with the preferred starting position, held on to the lead back to the start/finish line. Ross Chastain(1), after starting 17th moved into the top 10, running seventh.
Blaney did recapture the lead and Harvick moved up to third showing his skill at navigating the odd-shaped race track with fast lap times.
As the laps in Stage Two wound down Elliott closed on Blaney as the leaders worked their way through lapped traffic. But, Blaney held on for the Stage win as he raised his race-high total laps led to 138.
Stage Two Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
Chase Elliott led the field off pit road with Harvick in second. When the race went back to green, Harvick spun his tires on the restart and the pack spread out seven-wide to avoid contact as they battle for positions. When the scramble ended and the cars fell into line it was Elliott, Tyler Reddick(8), and Blaney out front.
The leaders held those positions until Martin Truex Jr.(19) cut down a tire and hit the wall hard on the backstretch with 92 laps to go. Drivers pitted for tires and fuel that may or may not carry them to the end of the race.
Blaney’s crew had trouble changing tires and cost the Ford Mustang driver a number of positions on pit road. The leaders came out with some new names in the running to position themselves for the last portion of the race. Elliott was followed by Chase Briscoe(14), Chastain, Harvick, Austin Dillon(3), Byron, Larson, Alex Bowman(48), Blaney, and Joey Logano(22).
If Elliott can hold on to the top spot it will give Hendrix Motorsports a sweep of the early season west coast swing. But, on the restart, it was Briscoe who surged to the front. When the position swaps concluded the top five were Briscoe, Elliott, Harvick, Chastain, and Blaney.
Larson will not get to be the first repeat winner of the year as he pulled behind the wall with 73 laps to go. A valve spring let go in the engine ending Larson’s day early. Erik Jones lost a tire and spun on the backstretch with 27 laps to go. The caution will eliminate fuel concerns as all the lead lap cars come to the pit road for service.
Another scramble of the running order occurred as the cars returned to the track. Briscoe held the lead, Harvick, Chastain, Blaney, Reddick, and Elliott followed.
The restart came with 20 laps to go with Briscoe, Chastain, and Reddick jockeying for the top spot. None of the three has ever won a Cup series race. Harvick, in fourth, is on a 46 race winless streak. Blaney in fifth has contended in every race this year but has not been able to roll into Victory Lane yet. That’s five hungry eager to get the trophy.
With 10 laps to go it settled into a two-car race between Briscoe and Reddick. Just then Elliott got loose and spun on the backstretch, bringing out the eighth caution of the day and setting up a sprint to the finish with three laps to go.
Briscoe drove away from everyone to grab his first career win in his 40th Cup Series start. He also became the 200th winner in NASCAR’s top division. Kevin Harvick finished 6th to equal the marks of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty of 18 consecutive top 10 finishes at a single racetrack. He will have the opportunity to break that record when the series returns to Phoenix for the season finale.
Ross Chastain finished second earning his second top-three result in the last two weeks.
|1||Kyle Larson||126||Win In|
|2||Chase Briscoe*||126||Win In|
|3||Austin Cindric*||116||Win In|
|4||Alex Bowman||109||Win In|
|13||Martin Truex Jr.||109||+16|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line|
|23||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||78||-19|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Of Note: Michael McDowell(26th), Denny Hamlin(27th), and Christopher Bell(30th) who were all NASCAR Playoff Drivers in 2021 sit outside the Top 25 to date in the 2022 standings.
Results of the Ruoff Mortgage 500 from Phoenix Raceway
|28||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||-2||310|
|35||19||Martin Truex Jr.||-93||219|