NASCAR Race Insights: Ruoff Mortgage 500
This weekend, NASCAR teams, drivers, and fans converge on the desert at the Phoenix Raceway for Sunday’s 500-mile race. Coverage starts at 3:30 pm EST on FOX.
Keep reading below for some points of interest to keep things interesting as you tune in to the Ruoff Mortgage 500 this Sunday.
Martin Truex, Jr. , last spring’s race winner, is not the favorite to win the race. His odds are tied for second in the early odds with Kyle Busch and followed by Chase Elliott and Joey Logano. The clear favorite? The Cup Series’ reigning season champion, Kyle Larson. Larson revisits the Phoenix Raceway, where he captured his first Cup Series title there last fall.. Truex Jr. finished just 5 points behind Larson in last year’s championship standings as he finished in 2nd in last year’s season finale race, so look for a little taste of revenge from Truex Jr. as he rolls out this Sunday. Even though he hasn’t won this race since 2018, you can never count out the experience of Kevin Harvick as the all-time wins leader of the Ruoff Mortgage 500 with 5 total wins for two different teams and two different manufacturers.
History is usually the best indicator of future results. Stewart-Haas is the all-time winningest team of the Ruoff Mortgage 500 with 5 wins. Kevin Harvick was behind the wheel for Stewart-Haas for the wins in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 and Ryan Newman in 2010.
Over the last three years, Joe Gibbs Racing has taken the top spot at two of the last three races with the Toyota-powered cars of Kyle Busch (2019) and Martin Truex Jr (2021). The 2020 race was won by Joey Logano for Team Penske. Larson is in the points lead currently and will be racing his Hendrick Motorsports car this Sunday with the next four spots being occupied by Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing. If these two teams can keep Larson in their sights, joining forces at the end could play into the team strategy to contain Larson and keep him off the podium.
Chevrolet is the all-time leader in wins for the race with 10, followed by Ford (4) and Toyota (3). Chevrolet won 10 of the first 13 Ruoff Mortgage 500 races. It appears Ford and Toyota have now caught up to the horsepower as they have split the last four races atop the podium. Chevrolet will have something to say about it though with Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman coming off strong finishes over the last two races and Larson sitting atop the points standings after the first three points races. Larson won the last race at Phoenix in the fall of 2021 to clinch his first Cup Series points championship as he’ll be looking to relive that feeling again this Sunday.
Three of the last six races have gone to overtime, utilizing the green-white-checkered finish unique to NASCAR. With the last stop on the West Coast Swing, this speedway will not be short on action, drama and thrilling passing. When lap 300 comes around, be ready for pure adrenaline-filled excitement over the next 12 laps – and maybe a couple more if they don’t finish by lap 312.
*The green-white-checkered finish used by NASCAR ensures a race is not ended within the regulation number of laps on a yellow caution flag. Instead, after the yellow flag is lifted and the green flag drops, the race resumes. The next lap marks the white flag indicating one lap to go. If an accident happens or other event bringing out the yellow flag during the last lap, the final results are based on the white-flag lap and the race is completed. If there is a caution flag on the initial green-flag lap, the green-white-checkered system resets and action resumes with the green flag after the caution.