Race: Runoff Mortgage 500
Date: March 13th
Venue: Phoenix Raceway
2021 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (3:00:20)
Broadcast: Fox (Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick)
Course: Phoenix Raceway
Opened in 1964. It runs at 1 mile low bank asphalt track with turns curving between 8-11 degrees. Home to the FanShield 500 and Bluegreen Vacations 500 later in the playoffs, the desert is surrounded by Estrella Mountains. The tri-oval formation is a shape similar to Talladega, Daytona, and to a much lesser degree Poconos. The introduction of a dog-leg coupled with bumping up the angle slightly on two turns to allow for more side by side racing due to the speed around the turns and multi-grooves.
1 Kyle Larson (2nd pick this year). Kyle has seven straight top 10 finishes at Phoenix. He comes into this race the clear-cut favorite, having won two weeks ago at California and finishing 2nd at Las Vegas.
2 Martin Truex Jr. (2nd pick this year). Martin was 2nd or 1st here during the regular season in 2018, 2019, and 2021. He started this season finishing 13th at Daytona followed by a 13th place finish at California. He moved up to 8th at Las Vegas and is primed for a top 3 finish at Phoenix.
High Risk/High Reward
3 Aric Almirola (2nd pick this year). Aric is making the most of what could be his last season. He has finished among the top 10 in each race so far, and at Phoenix he has been among the top 12 during the regular season each of the last three races.
4 William Byron (1st pick this year). Byron had a less than stellar start to this season with a 38th place wreck and a 34th place accident at California. Finally at Las Vegas he was able to finish and came in 5th. At Phoenix his last three races were 8th, 10th, and 9th. He has his work cut out for him helping teammates Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman—but I think we could see him succeed here.
5 Christopher Bell (2nd pick this year). Chris finally cracked the top 10 last week after an accident at Daytona and a car issue at California. He was 9th here last year during the regular season. He has proven a solid car and team thus far and if he can finish I think he can come in the top 10 here.
Fun Fact: Kevin Harvick won here five times, the most of any driver.
Favorites: Average finish 17th (44th percentile)
High Risk/Reward: Average finish 13th place (33rd percentile)
Dark Horse: Average finish 10th place (26th percentile)