RCR Event Preview – Phoenix Raceway

Richard Childress Racing at Phoenix Raceway … In 130 starts at Phoenix Raceway, Richard Childress Racing has scored six NASCAR Cup Series victories led by Kevin Harvick with four victories (a sweep of both races in 2006 plus the fall races in 2012 and 2013). Dale Earnhardt won in 1990 while Ryan Newman claimed the win in the 2007 spring event. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, RCR has three wins by three different drivers: Elliott Sadler (2012), Clint Bowyer (2007) and Harvick (2006). 
Introducing the Next Gen … NASCAR’s Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which officially debuted in 2022, is a collaboration of the brightest engineering minds in racing. With technology at the forefront, Richard Childress Racing has played a unique and critical role in helping to bring this new on-track identity to life, working closely with OEMs, other teams and NASCAR to build and test the initial prototype. 
Catch Saturday’s Action … The United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway will be televised live on Saturday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. 
Follow Sunday’s Action in Phoenix … The Phoenix 500 will be televised live Sunday, March 13 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX and will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
This Week’s Get Bioethanol Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Phoenix Raceway … Dillon has 16 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix Raceway to his credit, earning two top-10 finishes. He earned his best finish of eighth at the track in November 2018.
Delivering Performance On the Track and For the Planet … Austin Dillon will race the Get Bioethanol Chevy in Phoenix, showcasing the performance benefits of racing with earth kind and engine smart bioethanol blended fuel, Sunoco Green E15. Whether it’s delivering cleaner and cooler high octane on the racetrack or a more affordable option for spring break road trips, plant-based bioethanol makes a positive impact on our planet. Learn more about  bioethanol at getbioethanol.com
What do you expect the racing to be like at Phoenix Raceway? Do you expect any noticeable differences from how the previous car raced there?
“I tested one day at Phoenix Raceway, but we didn’t really get around a bunch of cars at the test. One thing about Auto Club Speedway, and a reason why I thought it was a solid race, is there’s a lot of options at that track and places to go find some air for these cars. I think short tracks are going to be great for this car. Tracks like Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway should be strong. The fans saw a great race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Phoenix Raceway is between a short track and a speedway, which will make it interesting. You start to get into a bit of an aero problem at Phoenix, and you start relying on downforce and different things so I feel like it’s going to be important to qualify well. I do think that tires are going to fall off a pretty good amount at Phoenix, which will be nice. You have to set up your car for that and hope you make it work. I don’t know how great it’s going to be. It’s performed well so I wouldn’t underestimate it. It’s a challenging car to drive and it’s putting on a good show so far.”
How much do you think you’ll be able to take from the Spring Phoenix Raceway race when we go back for the championship in November? Since we’re learning so much about the Next Gen right now, are we going to be on a completely different page by the time November rolls around?
“I would say some things will probably change, but not a whole lot by the time we go back. We just need to take good notes. Anytime we go to the track, writing notes, talking about parts, pieces, and different thoughts on how to drive. It’s a whole new notebook this year. Even if you don’t go back to a track, or you change tracks that you’ll never see again, there’s something you can learn and take to the next event.”
Outside of winning races and making the playoffs, are there any specific competition goals that the team has set for itself to achieve this year, especially with the new car?
“For me it’s winning a championship. My goal is to be the first guy to win all three championships. That’s what I put the effort into. It’s what I spend my weekends for, to try and win all three. That’s why I wrote ‘Crazy Faith’ on the back of my helmet this year. I’m believing in the process. I’ve set goals throughout different seasons. In the past, I’ve set obtainable goals like a earning a couple of wins and getting in the playoffs. I want to start thinking about what I really want and having faith towards that. The championship is the only thing I wrote down as a goal.”
This Week’s Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Phoenix Raceway … Reddick will make his fifth start at the Avondale, Arizona track on Sunday, sporting the red, white and black Guaranteed Rate paint scheme on the No. 8 Chevrolet. Reddick made his Cup Series debut at Phoenix in 2020 and most recently, finished 19th in the 2021 season finale. He has a best finish of 19th twice, both in the Cup Series championship race, and he’s completed 95.6 percent of laps attempted. During his time in the Xfinity Series, Reddick made five starts at Phoenix and tallied a best finish of third in both of the races at the track in 2019. In total, he has four top 10s and two top fives and completed 999 of 1,000 laps attempted. Lastly, during his NASCAR Truck Series career, Reddick made three starts at Phoenix and grabbed a best finish of fifth in 2015.
Reddick’s Stats Improve … Reddick has led the most laps this season among all Cup Series drivers with 90. Prior to this season, Reddick had only led 73 laps total in 74 races. Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Reddick grabbed his first top-10 finish of the season after overcoming some obstacles throughout the race. Reddick and the No. 8 team are looking forward to adding another great finish this weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
About Guaranteed Rate … Guaranteed Rate is a leader in mortgage lending and digital financial services. Headquartered in Chicago, the company has more than 8,000 employees in 500 offices across the U.S., and is licensed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Since its launch in 2000, Guaranteed Rate has helped hundreds of thousands of homeowners with home purchase loans and refinances, funding more than $95 billion in total loan volume in 2021 alone. Powered by its belief in positivity, the company has become one of the largest retail lenders in the nation. Guaranteed Rate delivers innovative technology, including the world’s first Digital Mortgage, low rates and unparalleled customer service.
Talk about how you were able to rally back to a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend after starting from the rear twice, suffering from leg discomfort, and on-track obstacles.
“It was a pretty good recovery for our team. I guess if you look at where we started and where we finished, you’d think it was a pretty boring day because we were supposed to start seventh, but it was anything but that. We had a few issues throughout our weekend starting with some steering issues that ultimately led to us changing our steering rack, forfeiting our starting spot, going to the back. From there, we definitely had a car that was pretty good in clean air, which we practiced a majority in, but once you get back there in that bubble of 10th to 20th, it’s pretty vicious back there. We just needed something different to be able to handle better but we had good pit stops and got a couple of breaks on restarts where we were able to get ourselves in that fifth to 10th bubble and we were able to manage it to the finish. I’m proud of the fight our team showed throughout that whole race and feel like we have good momentum heading to Phoenix this weekend.”
You got to test the Next Gen car at Phoenix a few months ago. How do you think the racing will play out this weekend with a lot more cars on track at once?
“This weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway is going to provide some really entertaining and exciting racing, I think. When we were out there for the test, we didn’t get to run a lot in traffic but that will be different on Sunday. We’ve seen such solid and good racing at all the tracks we’ve visited so far this season and it feels like Phoenix is going to be the perfect mix of all of them. This car is so challenging to drive and with the aerodynamics at Phoenix, practice is going to be crucial to see what kind of speed and car you’ve got. Qualifying is going to be really important too, you want to have a good starting position especially as the tires start to give throughout the first stage or two. My team has been working really hard each and every week and I think we’ll have a good game plan put together for this weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to run up front and put on a good show.”
This Week’s Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Camaro SS at Phoenix Raceway … Creed will be making his second start at Phoenix Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He scored a 10th-place finish this past November at the 1.0-mile desert oval. It was his first top-10 and came in his fourth career start in the series. He has two top-10 finishes in three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts this season and enters the United Rentals 200 on Saturday afternoon 14th in the series standings. The Alpine, Calif., native has made four NASCAR Truck Series starts at Phoenix, highlighted by his victory in 2020 that gave him the series championship.
About Whelen … Whelen Engineering is a family-owned company with a pioneering spirit and a passion to protect the lives of those who protect and serve others. The company mission is to provide industry-defining safety solutions around the world, while creating a community of problem-solvers who are inspired to push boundaries and continue our legacy of delivering ground-breaking innovation. As a global leader in the emergency warning industry, Whelen has been trusted to perform since 1952, when George Whelen III invented the first rotating aviation beacon. Whelen now encompasses two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Connecticut and New Hampshire with over 750,000 square feet of engineering and manufacturing space and the largest design staff in the industry. Every part of every Whelen product is proudly designed and manufactured in America. We embrace quality as our foundation, we celebrate innovative engineering in every product we produce.
What is the key to running well at Phoenix Raceway?
“You need to roll really good through the center of the corner and put the power down on exit. That was what I battled at Phoenix Raceway when I ran the NASCAR Xfinity Series car there in the fall. If we can just turn a little bit better that should help us get off the corner better and I think we’ll be faster.”
How big of an advantage is it to have one NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Phoenix Raceway?
“Having a little bit of experience in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Phoenix Raceway will be huge for us. I’m excited to be able to go there having laps in a NASCAR Xfinity Series car and knowing what to expect right off the bat for practice and feeling like I know what I need. I’ll be a lot more comfortable just having that prior experience. I’m excited to get into the race with the Whelen Chevrolet and to continue to learn as much as I can. It’s important get more comfortable and get up to speed. I’m just trying to learn and get comfortable these first few weeks of the season and get ourselves a good base. We all want to win, but I’ll take solid finishes early in the season and have solid races.”
This Week’s United Rentals Chevrolet Camaro SS at Phoenix Raceway … Hill will be making his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday afternoon. He won the pole at Phoenix in 2019 and has one top 10 (a 10th-place effort in 2021) in the NASCAR Truck Series. Hill is 10th in the Xfinity Series driver standings entering Saturday’s race and has led at least one lap in two of the first three races this season. With his victory in the season-opening event at Daytona, Hill has clinched a spot in the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs.
About United Rentals … United Rentals, Inc. is the largest equipment rental company in the world. The company has an integrated network of 1,278 rental locations in North America, 11 in Europe, 28 in Australia and 18 in New Zealand. In North America, the company operates in 49 states and every Canadian province. The company’s approximately 20,100 employees serve construction and industrial customers, utilities, municipalities, homeowners, and others. The company offers approximately 4,300 classes of equipment for rent with a total original cost of $15.72 billion. United Rentals is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the Barron’s 400 Index and the Russell 3000 Index® and is headquartered in Stamford, Conn. Additional information about United Rentals is available at unitedrentals.com.
How important are restarts at Phoenix Raceway?
“Restarts are huge everywhere but even more so at Phoenix Raceway. As soon as you get to the start-finish line on a restart, you’ve got to start looking in your mirror. You’ve got to be ready for the guy behind you. If you’re leading the bottom lane, you’ve got to be ready for the guy behind you to short cut the racetrack. When he does that, you’ve got to be ready to react and throw that block and run that shorter line. Getting through the gears with smooth shifts is crucial. It seems like once you get in the restart , people start playing some games and you have to watch out for that.”
You were able to watch the Phoenix race last fall. What did you learn?    
“I was able to sit on the box and listen and watch last year when they ran at Phoenix. It just seemed like the way the cars were driving, the track fit my driving style well. They were a little on the freer side.”
How big of a factor is the PJ1?
“I think the PJ1 has a lot to do with how the track is going to change throughout the race. As soon as the PJ1 gets activated, it then seems like you have to be up there to be fast. Sometimes your car works up there, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s one of those things that you’ve got to work through.”