Facts & Stats: NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway
10 March 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News
AVONDALE, AZ — It’s Friday and that means it's time to review the Facts and Stats ahead of the NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday March 12, 2023. As Go Full Throttle Racing News readers know, some of this data is included in the GFT NASCAR AI Driver Ranking and Race Prediction models.
Track Length: 1-Mile
Race Length: 500 Kilometers/312 miles (312 laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 50,000
First Race: Nov. 6, 1988 — Checker 500
Banking in Turns 1 and 2: 11 degrees
Banking in Turns 3 and 4: 9 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 3 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 9 degrees
Frontstretch: 1,179 feet
Backstretch: 1,551 feet
Qualifying & Race Records
Qualifying: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 143.158 mph (25.147 sec.); Nov. 13, 2015
Race: Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 118.132 mph (2:38:28); Nov. 7, 1999
Races won from Pole (7 of 53)
Jeff Gordon 2007, Jimmie Johnson 2008, Mark Martin 2009, Carl Edwards 2010, Kevin Harvick 2015, Kyle Larson 2021, Joey Logano 2022.
NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500
The Place: Phoenix Raceway
The Date: Sunday, March 12
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,453,660
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)
NASCAR Wire: News Updates After Las Vegas
William Byron adds his name to the Playoffs / All-Star Race with Vegas victory
In impressive fashion, Hendrick Motorsports displayed their 1.5-mile package prowess by dominating the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway finishing 1–2–3 with drivers William Byron, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman, respectively. The Hendrick contingent managed to lead a combined 241 of the 271 laps completed (88.9%), with Byron scarfing up the lion’s share with 176 laps led out front.
With the big win, Byron is now the third different driver to secure his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and also the NASCAR All-Star Race, which will be held at the newly renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 21. Byron joins DAYTONA 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Auto Club Speedway winner Kyle Busch on the series postseason list. The Las Vegas win also jumped Byron up 16 spots in the point standings, he is now ranked 13th.
The victory at Las Vegas was the fifth for William Byron’s NASCAR Cup Series career, and the first at the 1.5-mile track located just outside Sin City. Byron will look to keep the momentum going this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, the track that will play host to the Championship Race later this season. Byron has made 10 career starts at Phoenix, posting five top-five finishes. His average finish at the 1-mile track is 13.0.
Trackhouse Racing looks strong early, both teams in series points top five
Through three races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Trackhouse Racing drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez have been putting up some impressive performances and as a result both are ranked inside the top five in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings for the second consecutive week — the first season the organization has had both drivers ranked within the top five in points.
Following Las Vegas, Ross Chastain leads the NASCAR Cup Series points standings by a mere three points over second place Alex Bowman and 21 points up on third place Kevin Harvick. Chastain’s teammate Daniel Suárez is currently ranked fourth in the series standings, only 25 points back from Chastain in the series lead. Suárez is the one of only two drivers to score top-10 finishes in all three races this season — Alex Bowman is the only other driver to accomplish the feat.
Looking ahead to Phoenix, expect the Trackhouse Racing success to continue. In this race last season at Phoenix, Chastain finished runner-up to race winner Chase Briscoe and Suárez finished in the top-10 (ninth).
Chastain has made nine series starts at Phoenix Raceway posting two top-five finishes. His average finish at the 1-mile track is an 18.5.
Suárez has made 12 series starts at Phoenix, and the Monterrey, Mexico native has put up three top-10 finishes.
Chase Elliott sidelined with broken leg, Josh Berry to pilot the №9 at Phoenix
Blazoned across nearly all of the motorsports’ media outlet websites this last week was the news of Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott being sidelined after breaking his left tibia in a snowboarding accident. As a result, JR Motorsports’ driver Josh Berry was tapped to pilot the №9 Chevrolet at Las Vegas, and after crew chief Alan Gustafson and the №9 crew worked feverishly to set the car up for Sunday. Berry finished 29th in his series debut. Now, with Chase Elliott’s length of absence looking to be nearly six weeks, Berry will have another shot at jumping behind the wheel of the №9 this weekend at Phoenix Raceway and all oval events Elliott might miss.
IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car star Jordan Taylor will drive the №9 at Circuit of The Americas. “We’re focused on getting Chase back to 100%, so we’ll take however much time is necessary and make sure he has the best resources available,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Josh was impressive this weekend under difficult circumstances, and we look forward to having him drive the oval tracks until Chase is able to return. Jordan is a world-class road racer and has recently been working with our Garage 56 team preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’ll be able to step in and do a great job at COTA.”
This will be Berry’s NASCAR Cup Series track debut at Phoenix Raceway, but the 32-year-old from Hendersonville, Tennessee has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the 1-mile track posting one top-five finish.
Phoenix Raceway: A beacon of competition in the desert
After three great races to start the season producing three different winners — Rick Stenhouse Jr. (Daytona), Kyle Busch (Auto Club) and William Byron (Las Vegas), the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix Raceway for the United Rentals Work United 500 this Sunday, March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
- Note that all three points paying wins in 2023 have been in Chevrolets. Toyota won the exhibition race at the LA Coliseum with Martin Truex Jr, and Ford won both Duels at Daytona with Logano and Almirola.
Phoenix Raceway has hosted 53 NASCAR Cup Series races prior to this weekend producing 26 different pole winners and 28 different race winners.
Ryan Newman (2002, 2003, 2004, 2008) and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (2006, 2012, 2016, 2019) lead the Cup Series in poles at Phoenix Raceway with four each. Eleven of the 26 Phoenix Raceway pole winners are active this weekend.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup 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 28 NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway winners are active this weekend.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the most recent winner at Phoenix Raceway, grabbing his third career win (2016, 2020, 2022) at the 1-mile track back in November. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe is the defending winner of the spring Phoenix race. With his win last season, Briscoe became just the third different driver to score their first career Cup Series victory at Phoenix Raceway; joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Alan Kulwicki (November 6, 1988) and Bobby Hamilton (October 29, 1996).
All the on-track action begins with practice on Friday, March 10 from 6:30 p.m. ET followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, March 11 at 2 p.m. ET. Both events will be televised on FS1.
NASCAR introduces new package for short tracks and road courses
NASCAR has announced updates to the components of the NASCAR Cup Series car for races held at road courses and short tracks (excluding Bristol and Dover). The Road Course and Selected Short Track Package will consist of the following:
- 2” Spoiler
- Remove Engine Panel Strakes
- Remove Center and Inner Diffuser Strakes. Only the Outer Diffuser Strakes will remain installed. Spacers will be installed between the diffuser flap and diffuser due to removing the inner diffuser strakes.
- Remove Diffuser Fences and Replace with Baseline Fences.
- Splitter stuffers will remain unchanged from the current components.
The rules are in place at the following tracks: Charlotte Roval, Chicago Street Course, Circuit of The Americas, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Martinsville, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix, Richmond, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
So that teams and drivers can have additional track time to adjust to these new components, NASCAR has made Phoenix Raceway an ‘extended practice’ weekend. A 50-minute practice has been added, scheduled for Friday from 4:35 p.m. to 5:25 p.m. local time.
“We saw incredible racing throughout the 2022 season, especially at the intermediate racetracks. Our goal is to have the best racing possible everywhere we race, so during the offseason, we went to work on adjustments to strengthen the racing on short tracks and road courses. Adjustments will be made to the car that will create a significant reduction in downforce and based on driver feedback and what we saw from the January test in Phoenix, we’re excited to see the results of these efforts.”
Harvick has two more chances to reach 10 wins at Phoenix Raceway
Statistically, Phoenix Raceway is Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick’s best track, and after announcing that his retirement will be at the end of the season, he has just two chances left to become the sixth different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win 10 or more races at a single track.
The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kevin Harvick, returns to Phoenix Raceway as the series leader in wins at the 1-mile track with nine victories (2006 sweep, 2012 Playoff race, 2013 Playoff race, 2014 sweep, 2015 Spring race, 2016 Spring race, 2018 Spring race). Now, the 47-year-old veteran has the opportunity join an elite list of drivers with 10 or more wins at a single track — Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most tracks with 10 or more wins at five different tracks — Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Richmond, Rockingham and Daytona.
bound from start of 2023 with solid run at Phoenix
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe is looking to rebound from a slow start to his 2023 NASCAR Cup Series where he hasn’t finished higher than 20th in his first three starts. Now, the Mitchell, Indiana native returns to Phoenix Raceway, where he scored his first career Cup victory, looking to defend his last season win.
Briscoe is currently mired in the lower half of the point standings, in 32nd place with just 28 points this season. In his first three starts this season, he has put up a 35th at Daytona, a 20th at Auto Club and a 28th last weekend at Las Vegas.
Briscoe has made four series starts at Phoenix posting one win and two top fives.
NASCAR Cup Series notebook
Sunoco Rookie Class Update — Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs continues to lead the 2023 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following the third race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 53 points, up 18 points over Legacy Motor Club’s Noah Gragson with 35.
Both rookies will be making their NASCAR Cup Series career track debuts this weekend at Phoenix Raceway. But they both should run well this weekend, as both have wins at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season.
Las Vegas gave some drivers the jump start they needed to get their 2023 season going — This past weekend at Las Vegas, seven of the top-10 finishers in the Pennzoil 400 scored their best finish of the 2023 season; including William Byron (first), Kyle Larson (second), Alex Bowman (third), Bubba Wallace (fourth), Austin Cindric (sixth), Martin Truex Jr. (seventh), Justin Haley (eighth).
Bowman, McDowell are heading back home — The NASCAR fans from Arizona will two drivers from their home state to root for this weekend at Phoenix Raceway in the United Rentals United Work 500 (March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).