2023 NASCAR Preview: Week 4 – Phoenix

The West Coast Swing ends today!

Off to a great start of the season, three different winners so far and plenty of high quality racing action. Each race has come down to the last lap, and even when someone is running away with it, there’s another driver there ready to pounce. Kyle Larson was one who almost stole it last week on a late restart, but succumbed to teammate William Byron who dominated the entire race. With just 500 kilometers in today’s race, we’ve got a bit of a short one. Who gets off to the quick start they need to?

Here’s what to look for:

Kyle Larson go things going in a hurry on Saturday, quickest in the first round of Qualifying, and carried it over to the final round to grab that Pole. At Phoenix, he’s got a 9.6 average finish in nine attempts, and took the checkered flag in the Fall 2021 race to secure his first Championship.

Chase Briscoe was our winner at this race last year, a bit of a surprise when compared to the rest of the field and who is probable to win. In any event, he’s got two Top 5s in four cracks here, and that ain’t half bad. Chase was 1st and 4th at Phoenix in ’22.

Joey Logano won the Fall race to win the Championship, and after last week’s disappointment he’ll no doubt be up on the wheel today. He’s the 5th best in the league over the last ten races (10.1 average finish), and has two Wins in that span as well. His last eight races have all been 11th or better.

Kevin Harvick has the best average finish of all active drivers over the last ten (5.4!), and all of them are Top 10s. A little…cool?…lately though, his last five races have been between 5th and 8th, but he’s had a 2nd and a Win prior to those. How does today go for the elder Stewart-Haas driver? All signs point to “Top 10,” but how much so?

Ryan Blaney hasn’t won a race in a while. He’s one of the “when are they going to win next?” guys that gets talked about week-to-week. When looking at Phoenix, this may one of his best cracks. He’s earned the 4th most points over the last ten races here (compared to other active drivers), but does not have a 1st place finish in that span. With a streak of three straight Top 5s, does he get off the schneid today? We don’t have to wait long to find out.

A few years ago, on the last weekend before COVID shut the world down, we had a race here at Phoenix. Lisa made chimichangas, Joey Logano won the race, and we lost a good dude in Jack Godzuk / “Ivan the Impaler.” While he knows nothing of NASCAR, was never a fan, and we never really talked about it, he is forever tied to this race in my mind, and also chimichangas. It’s not something that I expected to happen, but when I hear the word, or see them, I think of Ivan. (And also any time I say aloud “I LOVE GAMBLING!” We used to joke about that and share a laugh. Related, been doing pretty well on Caesar’s lately using information gleaned from my own NASCARTICLE. Wow!).

Today, we’re having ‘changas again.

Chimichanga (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)

While waiting for food, I cranked some leftover Rattlesnake Pasta (with Rattlesnake Hill in mind). Nice spicy base layer before I fill up on chimichangas. This is Mason’s finished chimichanga, mine are a little more plain on the inside and out. Chicken and cheese with red enchilada sauce. Went air fryer instead of deep fryer this time. Good stuff. Nice job, Leese!

–And miss ya, Ivan. Catch ya down the road.

Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 3:30pm, green flag scheduled for 3:47pm.

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