After three strong races to begin the season, the NASCAR Cup Series’ new Next Gen car is heading to its biggest test so far.
Phoenix Raceway, the site of the championship race in November, will host the series for its annual regular season event this weekend. The regular season race at Phoenix is generally considered the best way to know who could win the title, as a win at the track in November could mean everything.
Martin Truex Jr. won the spring Phoenix race last year before finishing second in the fall, one spot short of a championship. Kyle Larson, meanwhile, won the fall race and the title after finishing seventh in the spring race. No one has swept both races at Phoenix since the track started hosting the finale in 2020.
Anything and everything is on the table for this race, as 25 drivers have recorded a top-10 finish through the first three races of 2022. The sport is displaying more parity than ever, but the heavy hitters will be sure to bring their best to the track that will crown a champion in eight months.
Here’s everything you need to know for Phoenix:
What is the Phoenix NASCAR schedule?
The race weekend at Phoenix will feature a full practice and qualifying schedule before the big show on Sunday. The 36-car field will be split into two groups, and each group will get a 15-minute practice session on Saturday, March 12 beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
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Qualifying will begin immediately after practice, around 2:05 p.m. ET. Each car from the two practice groups will make a single lap, with the five fastest times in each group advancing to the final round. In the final round, the 10 drivers each make a single lap and the pole is awarded to the fastest time.
The Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix will go green at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.
What channel is NASCAR on this weekend?
The race at Phoenix is on FOX, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Pre-race coverage starts with NASCAR RaceDay at 2 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The coverage moves to FOX at 3 p.m., with more pre-race festivities before the race at 3:30 p.m.
All coverage before, during and after the race can be streamed online here.
NASCAR standings entering Phoenix
It’s still early – just three races into the 26-race regular season – but it’s never too early to start mapping out the playoff field. Here’s a look at the current postseason field if, for some reason, the playoffs began after race three:
- Kyle Larson, 113 points
- Martin Truex Jr., 107 points
- Joey Logano, 104 points
- Austin Cindric, 103 points
- Kyle Busch, 102 points
- Aric Almirola, 97 points
- Chase Elliott, 88 points
- Alex Bowman, 80 points
- Austin Dillon, 78 points
- Bubba Wallace, 78 points
- Kurt Busch, 77 points
- Brad Keselowski, 77 points
- Ryan Blaney, 75 points
- Chase Briscoe, 74 points
- Erik Jones, 74 points
- Kevin Harvick, 69 points
Only 11 of those 16 drivers made the playoffs last year. A handful of usual contenders – including Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and William Byron – have an early hole to dig out of.
Which active drivers have won at Phoenix Raceway?
Just eight of the 36 drivers racing this weekend have won at Phoenix: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Hamlin, Logano, Truex, Elliott and Larson.
Harvick holds the all-time record at Phoenix for wins (9), top-fives (18) and top-10s (26), but he hasn’t won in the desert since 2018. Kyle Busch has three Phoenix wins, while Hamlin and Logano have two. Kurt Busch (2005), Elliott (2020), Truex (2021) and Larson (2021) have one win apiece at Phoenix.
Who is favored to win NASCAR this weekend?
With two annual visits to Phoenix Raceway, there are plenty of opportunities for drivers to find a rhythm at the track. Still, the last six races over the last three seasons have produced six different winners.
The one-mile, dogleg oval provides drivers with a chance to dive off the racing surface on the frontstretch, which can sacrifice speed but allows a chance to pass. Here’s a look at the drivers fanning out on a restart from last year’s race:
In addition to his nine Phoenix wins, Harvick leads all drivers with an 8.82 average finish and 1,663 laps led in 38 starts. He has 17 straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix dating back to 2013. Hamlin has also been hot at Phoenix lately, with top-five finishes in five of his last six starts. Similarly, Elliott has four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix.
The other top average finishers at Phoenix are Kyle Busch (10.85 in 33 starts), Larson (10.93 in 15 starts), Keselowski (12.52 in 25 starts) and Byron (13.25 in eight starts).
Here are some of the favorites to win at Phoenix, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:
- Kyle Larson, +400
- Martin Truex Jr., +700
- Kyle Busch, +775
- Chase Elliott, +800
- Joey Logano, +900
- Denny Hamlin, +900
- Ryan Blaney, +1200
- William Byron, +1500
- Kevin Harvick, +2000
- Alex Bowman, +2000
- Tyler Reddick, +2200
- Christopher Bell, +2500
- Aric Almirola, +2800
- Brad Keselowski, +4000
- Austin Cindric, +4000
- Kurt Busch, +5000
- Bubba Wallace, +12500
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.
What is the weather for Phoenix?
As usual, the Weather Channel is expecting a perfect weekend in Phoenix. The track, which is located in Avondale, Ariz., isn’t expected to receive any rain over the weekend. Temperatures could reach 77 degrees on Saturday and 80 degrees on Sunday, with hardly any clouds both days. There is a 0% chance of rain all weekend, according to the Weather Channel.