NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Shriners Children’s 500

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Sunday, March 10

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,806,252

TV: FOX, 2:30 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 Xfinity Series

Next Race: Call811.com Every Dig. Every Time. 200

The Place: Phoenix Raceway

The Date: Saturday, March 9

The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $1,448,204

TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series

Next Race: Weather Guard Truck Race

The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, March 16

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

The Purse: $761,274

TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 133.25 miles (250 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 65),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 130), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)

NASCAR Cup Series

Numbers Don’t Lie: NASCAR Cup Series competition is the pinnacle of racing

Just three races into the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season and the performances by the drivers and teams are a testament to the sustained close competition the fans have come to know and love about NASCAR. The Next Gen car is proving to bring the closest, most thrilling side-by-side racing in the world, and the numbers back it up.

v  The 2024 season has produced an average Margin of Victory of 0.222-second through the first three races of the season; the fourth-closest average Margin of Victory through the first three Cup races of a season since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993; just behind the series record of 0.136-second set in 2022.

v  At Atlanta Motor Speedway, fans witnessed the third-closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history when Daniel Suárez captured his second NASCAR Cup Series victory, narrowly beating reigning champion Ryan Blaney to the finish line by .003 seconds. The historic three-wide photo finish included Suárez, Blaney and two-time series champion Kyle Busch, who finished .007 seconds behind Suárez – marking the closest final margin between first and third in NASCAR Cup Series history.

v  The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 407 Green Flag Passes for the Lead – the most through the first three races of the year since the inception of the stat in 2005, surpassing the previous record of 302 Green Flag Passes for the Lead through the first three races set in 2022.

v  This season the NASCAR Cup Series has produced 28 different lap leaders in the first three races of the year – the second-largest number of lap leaders through the first three races of a season in the Modern Era (1972-2024); behind only the 2011 season with 32 leaders.

v  The NASCAR Cup Series is averaging 37.7 lead changes per race through the first three races of the 2024 season, the second-most in the Modern Era (1972-2024); behind only the 2011 season with 41.0 lead changes.

v  The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 23,027 Total Green Flag Passes – the most through the first three races of the year since the inception of the stat in 2005, surpassing the previous record of 21,245 Green Flag Passes through the first three races set last season.

v  The NASCAR Cup Series has produced three different point standings leaders in the first three races of the season for the first time since 2017.

v  This is the 37th time in the Modern Era (1972-2024) the NASCAR Cup Series has opened the season with three different winners at the first three tracks on the schedule.

Kyle Larson adds his name to the Playoffs with Vegas victory

Hendrick Motorsports displayed their 1.5-mile package prowess by dominating the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Kyle Larson leading 181 of the 267 laps and becoming the third different driver to secure a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Larson joins his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and DAYTONA 500 winner William Byron and Atlanta Motor Speedway winner Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez. The Las Vegas win also jumped Larson to the point standings lead, up eight points on Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, the 2023 Cup Series Champion.

Larson 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. In 19 career Cup starts at Phoenix, Larson has put up two poles, one win (2021), eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 1-mile track in Arizona is 11.263 – fourth-best among active drivers this weekend.

Legacy Motor Club off to fast start, both teams in series points top 16

Through three races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Legacy Motor Club drivers Erik Jones and John Hunter Nemechek have been putting up some solid performances and as a result both are ranked inside the top 16 in the NASCAR Cup Series driver points standings heading into Phoenix this weekend.

Anchoring both driver’s early on success is their season-opening top-10 finishes at Daytona, with Nemechek finishing seventh and in his rearview mirror was Jones in eighth.

Looking ahead to Phoenix, both Legacy Motor Club drivers will be looking to build on their early season momentum. Jones has made 15 series starts at Phoenix Raceway posting one top-five and four top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 1-mile track is a 17.7. Nemechek has made three series starts at Phoenix, accumulating an average finish of 26.0.

Laying Down A Lap: Starting up front has its perks at Phoenix

Qualifying each week is important, and this week is no different, especially if you qualify for the first or third positions. A total of 23 different starting positions have produced wins, but the first and third starting positions are the two most proficient starting positions at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, producing more winners (eight wins each) than any other positions on the starting grid (14.55% winning percentage) – including this race last season, when the winner William Byron started from third.

Veteran driver Ryan Newman (2002, 2003, 2004, 2008) and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (2006, 2012, 2016, 2019) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Phoenix Raceway with four each. In total, 27 different drivers have won the Cup Series pole at Phoenix. Eleven of the 27 Phoenix Raceway pole winners are active this weekend.

Active Phoenix Pole Winners
Poles
Seasons
Kyle Busch
4
2019. 2016, 2012, 2006
Ryan Blaney
3
2022, 2019, 2017
Kyle Larson
2
2023, 2021
Joey Logano
2
2022, 2017
Martin Truex Jr
2
2018, 2009
Denny Hamlin
2
2014, 2005
William Byron
1
2023
Chase Elliott
1
2020
Alex Bowman
1
2016
Brad Keselowski
1
2014
AJ Allmendinger
1
2010

Kings of the competition in the desert

Phoenix Raceway has hosted 55 NASCAR Cup Series races prior to this weekend producing 27 different pole winners and 30 different race winners.

The recently retired Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Phoenix Raceway with nine victories. Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (2005, 2018, 2019) and Team Penske’s Joey Logano (2016, 2020, 2022) lead all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Phoenix Raceway with three each.

Nine of the 30 NASCAR Cup Series Phoenix Raceway winners are active this weekend: 

Active Phoenix Winners
Wins
Seasons
Kyle Busch
3
2019, 2018, 2005
Joey Logano
3
2022, 2020, 2016
Denny Hamlin
2
2019, 2012
Ross Chastain
1
2023
William Byron
1
2023
Chase Briscoe
1
2022
Kyle Larson
1
2021
Martin Truex Jr
1
2021
Chase Elliott
1
2020

Chastain looks to become the seventh driver to win consecutive races at Phoenix

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is the most recent winner at Phoenix Raceway, grabbing his first career win (2023 Championship Race) at the 1-mile track back in November. Now, the Watermelon famer turned driver returns to the desert to defend his win and become the seventh different driver to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway.

If Chastain accomplishes the feat, he will join Davey Allison (1991, 1992), Jeff Burton (200, 2001), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2004), Kevin Harvick (2006 sweep, then four straight from the 2013 Playoff race to the 2014 sweep to the 2015 spring race), Jimmie Johnson (Fall of 2007 and 2008 sweep) and Kyle Busch (2018, 2019).

NASCAR’s new package for short tracks and road courses to debut in Phoenix

Collaborating with drivers and teams over the offseason, NASCAR has announced the following changes to the Next Gen car short track and road course package – starting in 2024 the NASCAR Cup Series cars will run a simplified diffuser at a majority of tracks measuring one-mile or shorter, as well as all road courses. (Note: Bristol and Dover excluded.) The simplified diffuser was not used at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The details of the components updated:

  • 2023 short track/road course splitter stuffers
  • No engine panel strakes
  • 3-inch spoiler
  • Simplified Diffuser
  • Simplified Diffuser Strakes

Eric Jacuzzi, NASCAR Vice President, Vehicle Performance: “At the test (at Phoenix during the offseason), we noticed an improvement in traffic. The car did not lose rear downforce when it yawed, which is an issue we fight with the current car. The drivers would be able to slide around more on the short tracks and really have to be less careful about putting power down. We felt that would be a benefit, and that was the big takeaway from the driver feedback. At the test, they felt they could really tell that it was more forgiving. They felt they could slide the car.”

NASCAR has also announced drivers will have additional track time to adjust to these new components, making Phoenix Raceway an ‘extended practice’ weekend. A 50-minute practice has been added, scheduled for Friday from 3:05 p.m. to 3:55 p.m. local time and can be viewed on FS1 from 5 – 6 p.m. ET.

Busch Light Pole Qualifying will be held on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Spinning The Tires: Former champs Logano and Keselowski needing to rebound at Phoenix

Two former NASCAR Cup Series Champions, Team Penske’s Joey Logano (24th in points) and RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski (28th in points) find themselves buried in the point standings after the first three races of the 2024 season. Now, the former champs head back to Phoenix Raceway, a track both have run-well at previously, looking to rebound and right their seasons.

Joey Logano has made 30 career Cup starts at Phoenix collecting three wins, eight top fives and 16 top 10s.

Brad Keselowski has made 29 Cup starts at Phoenix putting up eight top fives and 13 top 10s.

Breaking through under the sun in Phoenix

When it comes to first-time winners in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway, only three of the 30 different series winners earned their first career Cup Series win at 1-mile track.

The first driver and probably the most famous to accomplish the feat of earning his first career win at Phoenix Raceway was NASCAR Hall of Famer Alan Kulwicki in 1988. Not only was accomplishment huge for himself and his organization AK Racing but it was also the first time Kulwicki introduced his famous ‘Polish Victory Lap’ where he would drive the track clockwise (or backwards), so that he could wave to the fans in his victory lap.

Bobby Hamilton’s first career Cup win at Phoenix Raceway, came while driving for the famous Petty Enterprises in 1996. It was one of the last few wins Petty Enterprises would produce. Hamilton would win once more for the Pettys in 1997 at Rockingham and then John Andretti would bring home the organization’s final win at Martinsville Speedway in 1999. Petty Enterprises reached 268 wins in total in the series – second-most all-time.

The third and final first-time Cup winner at Phoenix, was Stewart-Haas’s Chase Briscoe in 2022. It was Briscoe first and only win to this day. Briscoe has made six starts at Phoenix posting one win, two top fives and three top 10s.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Class Update: Hocevar takes rookie standings lead – Spire Motorsport’s Carson Hocevar has leaped to the NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead for the first time this season. Heading into Phoenix Raceway this weekend, Hocevar has an 11 point lead over second place Josh Berry, 16 points up on third place Zane Smith and 18 points up on fourth place Kaz Grala.

Bowman, McDowell are heading back home The NASCAR fans from Arizona will have two drivers from their home state to root for this weekend at Phoenix Raceway in the Shriners Children’s 500 (March 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

A total of 34 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Arizona. Of the 34 Arizona drivers, only two drivers have won a NASCAR national series race – Alex Bowman (eight wins) and Michael McDowell (two wins). Most notably, McDowell won the 2021 DAYTONA 500.

Arizona NASCAR Winners
Cup
Xfinity
Truck
Combined
Alex Bowman
7
1
0
8
Michael McDowell
2
1
0
3
Totals
9
2
0
11

Bowman has made 17 series starts at Phoenix collecting two top-10 finishes.

McDowell has made 26 series starts at Phoenix without a win, the second most starts at by an active driver without a win at Phoenix behind Brad Keselowski at 29. McDowell’s best finish at his home track is ninth in the race last November (2023).

Chevrolet off to a fast start winning first three races of 2024 – The first three races of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has seen only one manufacturer in Victory Lane – Chevrolet.

In the Modern Era (1972-2023), a manufacturer has only swept a season’s first three races six times and Chevrolet drivers are responsible for five of them – Chevrolet (1995, 2001, 2010, 2023, 2024) and Ford (1992).

This season, William Byron won the DAYTONA 500, Daniel Suarez won Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kyle Larson won last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A manufacturer has only swept the first four races of a NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era three times – Chevrolet (1995, 2001) and Ford (1992).

The record for the most consecutive wins by a manufacturer to start at NASCAR Cup Series season in the Modern Era is nine straight victories by Ford during the 1992 season.

The most consecutive victories to start a Cup Series season by Chevrolet was seven straight wins in the 1995 season – second-most in the Modern Era.

Upcoming Cup Series Milestones: Phoenix Raceway Below are a list of the upcoming milestones to watch for in the NASCAR Cup Series:

Starts

  • Joey Logano will be making his 400th NASCAR Cup Series start with Team Penske this weekend at Phoenix.
  • Tyler Reddick will be making his 150th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Phoenix Raceway this weekend.
  • Bubba Wallace will be making his 225th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Circuit of The Americas in a few weeks.
  • Christopher Bell will be making his 150th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Circuit of The Americas in a few weeks.
  • Joey Logano is expected to make his 550th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Richmond Raceway. He will become the 39th different driver to reach 550 or more Cup Series starts.
  • Chris Buescher is expected to make his 300th NASCAR Cup Series career start at Richmond Raceway.

Wins

  • If Jimmie Johnson wins this season, he will tie NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth on the NASCAR Cup Series all-time wins list. Currently Johnson is tied with Cale Yarborough in sixth.
  • If Kyle Busch wins seven races this season, he will reach 70 career wins and become the eighth different driver to accomplish the feat of 70 or more wins in the series.
  • If Denny Hamlin wins three races this season, he will tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 12th on all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 54 wins.
  • If Brad Keselowski wins two races this season, he will tie Bobby Isaac for 23rd on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list with 37 wins.
  • If Martin Truex Jr. wins a race this season, he will tie Brad Keselowski for 24th on the all-time Cup Series wins list with 35 wins.
  • If Kyle Larson wins another race this season, he will reach 25 career wins, becoming the 36th different driver all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series to reach 25 victories.
  • If the Wood Brothers Racing organization wins this season, it will their 100th NASCAR Cup Series victory, they currently have 99 wins in the series.

Laps Led

Three NASCAR Cup Series drivers can reach milestones in laps led this weekend:

Lap Leaders
Laps Led
Next Milestone
Laps Led Needed
Erik Jones
827
1,000
173
Kyle Larson
7,761
8,000
239
Ryan Blaney
3,746
4,000
254

Viva La Fiesta set for Phoenix Raceway Midway During March 8-10 NASCAR Weekend – Phoenix Raceway announced that Viva La Fiesta will be its newest attraction in the Phoenix Raceway Midway located near Gate 5. The Hispanic-themed exhibition will be on full display throughout the Shriners Children’s 500 NASCAR Weekend, March 8-10, and is FREE to all ticket holders.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce Viva La Fiesta to all of our fans this spring,” said Phoenix Raceway President Latasha Causey. “This addition to our midway brings a whole new element of fun to Phoenix Raceway, and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.”

Through a partnership with Mexican beer brand Estrella Jalisco, fans can experience a variety of fun activities and displays throughout the weekend. The main stage will feature musical and dance performances from acts such as DJ J Medina, Mariachi Alas de Arizona, Ballet Folklorico Esparanza, and much more.

In addition, there will be Q&A sessions with Mexican-born NASCAR Cup Series driver and recent winner of the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Daniel Suarez along with players from Phoenix Rising FC. Fans can also get their picture taken with the trophy Suarez won at the King Taco LA Batalla en El Coliseo, the historic NASCAR Mexico Series race that took place Feb. 3 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

There will also be Lucha Libre Wrestling in the Viva La Fiesta Zone, with matches taking place from 1:30 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, and 9 to 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. Fans can additionally find Sophisticated Few Low Riders, local food/drink trucks, and many more things to do at Viva La Fiesta all through the race weekend.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

NASCAR Xfinity Series is ready to dust-up the desert in Phoenix

The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will be staying on the West Coast as they head into race number three of the season at Phoenix Raceway – the Call811.com Every Dig. Every Time. 200 on Saturday, March 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted 44 NASCAR Xfinity Series races all-time, producing 25 different race winners and almost as many pole winners at 24. In total, 11 races have been won from the pole or first starting position by five different drivers, most recently by Ty Gibbs in the Xfinity Series Championship Race in 2022. Kyle Busch has won the Phoenix Xfinity Series race from the pole six times – series most.

Busch is a prime example of the Xfinity Series slogan at Phoenix Raceway, “Names Are Made Here”, holding just about every record in the series:

  • Most wins: 11
  • Most poles: 10
  • Most top fives: 17 (tied with Kevin Harvick)
  • Most top 10s: 21
  • Most lead lap finishes: 24
  • Most laps led: 2,237

Though Busch has most of the records, Justin Allgaier has managed a few himself. Allgaier and Jeremy Clements hold the record for the most series starts at Phoenix with 27 each. Allgaier also holds the Xfinity Phoenix record for the most laps completed at 5,395.

Drivers will have a jam-packed Saturday as they hit the grid for practice at 12:30 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 1 p.m. ET on FS2 and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.

Stacked Deck: Winners galore at Phoenix Raceway this weekend

Five drivers in the field have conquered the 1-mile Arizona track, Phoenix Raceway, and will be looking to add another win to their resumes this weekend – Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Sammy Smith, Brandon Jones and William Byron.

Cole Custer: Driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has made eight starts at Phoenix Raceway, posting one win (2023), three top fives, six top 10s, and has led 140 laps. Custer, who is the most recent Xfinity Series winner at Phoenix, will look to become just the third driver all-time to win consecutive Xfinity races at the 1-mile track; joining Kyle Busch (2007-2008 and 2013 sweep-2014 and 2015-2016 sweep) and Austin Cindric (2020-2021).

Justin Allgaier: Driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has made 27 starts (tied for most all-time with Jeremy Clements), posting two wins (2017, 2019 – most among active drivers this weekend), 10 top fives, 18 top 10s, and has led 544 laps.

Sammy Smith: Driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has made three starts at the one-mile track, posting one win (2023), one top five, three top 10s, and has led 113 laps. Smith is the defending winner of this race – his only victory in the series.

Brandon Jones: Driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has made 16 starts at Phoenix, posting one win (2020), three top fives, six top 10s, and has led 59 laps.

William Byron: NASCAR Cup Series star and DAYTONA 500 champion, William Byron, will be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend at Phoenix. Byron has made two Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix Raceway, posting one win (2017), two top fives, two top 10s and has led 17 laps.

Looking for Victory Lane in the desert

There may be five previous winners entered in this weekend’s Call811.com Every Dig. Every Time. 200 but there are four other drivers worth keeping a close eye on as they hunt for their first win at Phoenix Raceway this weekend – Sheldon Creed, Austin Hill, Riley Herbst, and John Hunter Nemechek.

Sheldon Creed: Driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has made five starts at the track, posting two top fives and four top 10s. He’s come extremely close to taking the checkered flag at Phoenix Raceway, finishing runner-up in last year’s championship race.

Austin Hill: Driver of the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has made four starts at Phoenix, where he has posted three top-10 finishes and has led 43 laps.

Riley Herbst: Driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has made nine starts at Phoenix Raceway, posting four top fives and six top 10s.

John Hunter Nemechek: Fulltime NASCAR Cup Series driver John Hunter Nemechek will be getting behind the wheel of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix after coming off a big win last weekend at Las Vegas. Nemechek has made seven Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix Raceway, posting two top fives, six top 10s, and has led 168 laps.

Xfinity Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings shuffle after Las Vegas

The 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is in full swing, and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings has been shuffled after a wild race in Las Vegas. Richard Childres Racing’s Jesse Love still holds the rookie standings lead, but Hailie Deegan, the winner of the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award at Las Vegas, moved up a spot to fourth in the rookie standings following her 15th-place finish at Vegas. Love also extended his points lead over second place Shane van Gisbergen to 36 points. Now, the 2024 Sunoco rookie class will be heading back out West to give Phoenix’s one-mile track a go.

Jesse Love: He currently leads his competitors and is seventh in the Xfinity Series standings with 96 points. This weekend will be Love’s series track debut.

Shane van Gisbergen: He is currently second in the battle for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors and sits in 16th in the Xfinity Series standings with 60 points. This weekend will also be his series track debut.

Leland Honeyman Jr.: Sliding in at third is Honeyman who is 22nd in the Xfinity Series standings with 42 points. Honeyman made his series track debut at Phoenix last November; he started 23rd and finished 27th.

Hailie Deegan: Coming in at fourth on the rookie standings list is Hailie Deegan. She currently is 27th in the Xfinity Series standings with 33 points. Deegan scored a 15th-place finish at Las Vegas to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award. Deegan will be making he series track debut this weekend.

Dawson Cram: Rounding out our 2024 rookie class is Dawson Cram. He is 38th in the Xfinity Series standings with 15 points. Cram has made three starts at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series posting an average finish of 29.3.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Late Model standout Bubba Pollard to make NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Richmond – Thirty-seven-year-old Bubba Pollard will be getting behind the No. 88 Chevrolet with JR Motorsports to make his Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway on March 30.

Pollard has won more than 100 Late Model races in his career.

“I’m very excited,” Pollard said. “I really don’t know what to expect, as it’s all very new to us, but I’m very thankful for the opportunity that Rheem and JR Motorsports have given me. I hope we can make the most of it. I’ve never had any laps at Richmond, and I haven’t driven an Xfinity car, so it’s all going to be new.”

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series

Rajah Caruth’s day of firsts

Just days after HendrickCars.com signed on to sponsor Rajah Caruth for the entire 2024 season, he earned his first NASCAR national series victory in Friday night’s NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 21-year-old became the third African American to win a NASCAR national series race, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott and Bubba Wallace.

Caruth’s victory is part of a string of wins from graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, who have won in each of the first three weeks of the NASCAR season:

  • Nick Sanchez, Rev Racing (NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series) at Daytona
  • Daniel Suarez, Trackhouse Racing (NASCAR Cup Series) at Atlanta
  • Rajah Caruth, Spire Motorsports (NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series) at Las Vegas
  • Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports (NASCAR Cup Series) at Las Vegas

The win also gives Spire Motorsports affiliated trucks three wins in the first three races of the season as well as extends Chevrolet’s win streak. The OEM has won every race in 2024 across all three of NASCAR’s premier series.

In three starts this season, Caruth has tallied one win, one pole, two top fives, and three top 10s. The driver of the No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet currently sits fourth in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series points standings. With a week off, the D.C. native will let his first victory sink in before he prepares for the first short track of the season – Bristol Motor Speedway.

Short track racin’ at Bristol Motor Speedway

After a historic weekend in Las Vegas, the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series will have a week off to regroup and go over strategy before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Weather Guard Truck Race (Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

There have been 26 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races at the short track, producing 21 different winners and 19 different pole winners. Six races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Brett Moffitt in 2019.

NASCAR Cup Series regular and winningest NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series driver Kyle Busch has made the most trips to Victory Lane (five), won the most poles (four), and tallied the most top fives (seven).

Veteran driver Matt Crafton has made the most starts at Bristol (20). He also holds the record for most top 10s (14). Mike Skinner has led the most laps at the 0.533-mile track with 562.

Corey Heim is Bristol Motor Speedway’s most recent winner after making a late-race pass on Christian Eckes to get the victory last September.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series standings are heating up

Tyler Ankrum, at 22 years old, has once again extended his lead in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series points standings. The driver of the No. 18 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet finished runner-up at Las Vegas accumulating 42 points and retaining his position as the points leader in the series.

Looking to next week, the San Bernadino, California native has made five starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. His first venture to the track in 2019 netted him a 20th-place finish and when he returned in 2020, Ankrum scored a track-best seventh-place finish. Last season, Ankrum finished 23rd.

Sitting five points back from Ankrum is ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski. The driver of the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford led a race-high 40 of 134 laps and swept both stages in Las Vegas. A speeding penalty on pit road on Lap 102 ultimately cost him the chance to win the race. In two starts at Bristol, Majeski has one win (2022) one top five, and one top 10 finish.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Etc.

Jack Hawksworth set to join TRICON Garage at COTA – Vasser Sullivan Lexus standout and reigning IMSA GTD PRO Champion Jack Hawksworth will be joining forces with TRICON Garage to pilot the No. 1 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro at Circuit of The Americas on March 25.

In his eighth season of full-time IMSA competition, the 33-year-old has tallied 11 wins, 10 poles and 25 podiums while capturing championships in the IMSA GTD Sprint Cup and GTD PRO categories. The Lexus Racing factory driver has also secured high-profile victories in the RC F GT3, including Lexus and Vasser Sullivan’s first win in the GTD PRO category at Road America and the first endurance victory at the 2022 Petit Le Mans.

In addition to his expansive Sports Car résumé, Hawksworth competed in three full-time IndyCar seasons, earning a podium at the 2014 Grand Prix of Houston. The Bradford, U.K. native also made a NASCAR Xfinity Series start in 2019 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Joe Gibbs Racing, qualifying on the outside front row, earning a stage win, and finishing 15th.

“I’m super stoked to be joining TRICON Garage and piloting the No. 1 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra at COTA,” said Hawksworth. “The truck looks awesome. I’m looking forward to stepping back into the NASCAR world, working with the team leading up to the race weekend and then going out there and getting after it. COTA is a fun, technical track and one that should be challenging to tame a stock car at. A big thank you to everyone at TRD, Lexus, Mobil 1 and TRICON for making this possible. I can’t wait to get started!”

2024 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year breakdown – Connor Jones has quietly moved ahead to lead the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following three races in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series.

The driver of the No. 66 ThorSport Racing Ford was the highest-finishing Sunoco Rookie contender at Las Vegas (14th) and now sits seven points over Thadd Moffitt and eight points over Layne Riggs.

NCTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings 
RookiesPointsAwards
Connor Jones311
Thadd Moffitt241
Layne Riggs231
Speedway Digest Staff
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