Race: NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500
Track: Phoenix Raceway
Race Date: Sunday, March 14, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Green Flag Time: 3:47 PM ET
Broadcast: FOX (TV) — MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR (Radio)
Stage 1: 75 laps — Stage 2: 115 laps — Stage 3: 122 laps
To the Rear: Kyle Larson, William Byron, Cody Ware (multiple failed inspections), Garrett Smithley (driver change), Chase Elliott and Quin Houff (Unapproved Adjustments).
Kyle Larson didn’t take long finding victory lane with Hendrick Motorsports in his return to the NASCAR Cup Series after a suspension that ended his 2020 season. In his fourth race with HMS, Larson became the fourth different winner in NCS competition in four events in 2021.
Larson was set to roll from the outside pole in Sunday’s Instacart 500 at Phoenix, but he’ll drop to the rear of the field on Sunday as his car failed pre-race inspection twice.
Still Larson will look to become the first two-time winner in 2021.
However, Brad Keselowski — who finished second to Larson this past weekend, and has been close to victory a few times already this season — will start from the pole. The Team Penske driver is very hungry, and it would not be surprising if Keselowski were to snag a victory.
Other favorites for this race would have to include Denny Hamlin (starting third) and Chase Elliott (starting sixth).
Elliott won the last event contested at Phoenix, which secured him the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship. Elliott has already racked up 402 laps led in just 10-career starts in the desert and he has finished inside the top-10 at the track six times.
Hamlin has two wins at this race track, including one in the fall of 2019, which sent him to the Championship 4 in the Playoffs. Hamlin has four top-five finishes in his last six starts at the 1-mile oval.
While these drivers are all safe bets to contend for the win on Sunday, the master of Phoenix — Kevin Harvick — starts way back in 18th.
Harvick and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing team struggled mightily in Las Vegas this past week, as Harvick was the team’s highest finisher in 20th. However, if there is a place to snap out of a funk, for Harvick at least, it would be Phoenix.
In Harvick’s last 18 starts at this facility, he has 17 top-10 finishes, and he has scored seven of his all-time high nine wins at the speedway over that span.
Harvick finished runner-up in this race a season ago, and after a rough outing at Vegas, you would expect Harvick to be out for blood this weekend.
Pre/Post-Race Stats and Information
No practice / qualifying
- Sunday, March 14th — 3:30 PM ET — Race (Stages 75/190/312 Laps = 312 Miles)
Race Stories / Video Highlights / Recap
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.