Phoenix 101: Journey to the desert oasis

One last stop on NASCAR’s West Coast swing as the Cup Series treks to Phoenix Raceway Sunday for the United Rentals Work United 500 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Three races deep into the season, and it has been all Chevrolet so far as three different teams under the bow’s banner have marched their way to victory. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took home his first Daytona 500 win last month, followed by Kyle Busch’s rousing maiden victory with Richard Childress Racing. Last Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports sported its prowess, leading 241 of the 267 laps in Las Vegas and sweeping the podium as William Byron took the checkered flag.

Heading into the Grand Canyon State, a new challenge awaits the 36-driver field as Sunday’s race will debut a new rules package that significantly decreases the downforce created by the Next Gen car.

Let’s get ready for the fourth race on the schedule with trends to watch, notable moments and the on-track schedule for the weekend.


Sunday will see the first race for the rules package that drops the rear spoiler from four inches to two inches. Several updates will also be made to the underbody of the car, such as the removal of three diffuser strakes, engine panel strakes and trimming of the diffuser’s outer fencing.

NASCAR will give an extended 50-minute practice session to Cup teams Friday afternoon (6:35 p.m. ET, FS2) to adapt to the updates.

Goodyear will run the same tire setup they ran at both Phoenix races last season.

A new addition to the rules for 2023 includes a wet-weather option in case conditions aren‘t optimal for racing. Along with Sunday‘s Phoenix race, wet tires will be available at Martinsville Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway for All-Star Weekend, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, The Milwaukee Mile and Indianapolis Raceway Park.

RELATED: Go in-depth on new aero rules | See rules changes for 2023


At Las Vegas, Chevrolet became the first manufacturer since 2010 to win the first three races on the Cup Series schedule. Chevy can continue to display their dominance so far in 2023 by matching their 2001 start of four consecutive wins. That year saw three different Chevy teams take home victories in that span, and with three organizations already winning for the bowties, a fourth can very well join the likes of JTG Daugherty Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and RCR with Trackhouse Racing yet to join the party.

Last season, Ross Chastain placed second and third, respectively, in the two Phoenix trips. However, Chevy has only been victorious twice on the 1-mile Arizona track in the last 11 races.


— Ford and Toyota have split 10 of the last 13 wins at Phoenix.

— Kevin Harvick is seeking his all-time leading 10th win at Phoenix.

— Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Chastain and Harvick scored top 10s in both Phoenix races in the first year of the Next Gen car.

— Four different organizations have won the last four Phoenix races.


1988: Alan Kulwicki wins inaugural Phoenix Cup race | WATCH

2007: Jeff Gordon ties Dale Earnhardt on the all-time wins list | WATCH

2012: Gordon, Clint Bowyer crash and brawl ensues | WATCH

2016: Harvick, Edwards race to photo finish | WATCH


Friday, March 10

— 6:35 p.m. ET: Cup practice (FS2)

Saturday, March 11

— 2:05 p.m. ET: Cup qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 12

— 3:30 p.m. ET: United Rentals Workers United 500 (FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


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Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 3, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

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