Chase Briscoe claimed his first-career NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday in the Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway, his 40th race in the series. With the win, Briscoe became the 200th driver to win in NASCAR’s top series. The victory also was the first for Stewart-Haas Racing since Aric Almirola won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July.
“That’s unbelievable. I was crying the whole last lap,” Briscoe said. “I mean, this is definitely a team win. I got to thank everyone that has gotten me to this point. Seven years ago, I was sleeping on couching, ready to give up. They gave me an opportunity and it’s led to this.I am so blessed to be driving at the organization, the team, the car that was my hero growing up. To get this 14 back in victory lane, to do it with Mahindra Tractors, their first year in the sport, everybody that’s believed in me. It’s unbelievable.”
Briscoe’s maiden win Sunday also was the first among the top-three race finishers. Ross Chastain took second, Tyler Reddick moved into third on the penultimate restart on lap 293 of the 312-lap race. They were bunched up for one final restart with three laps to go with Chastain in the lead and Reddick in second and third, respectively. Chastain took second from Reddick on the restart to claim runner-up honors and relegate Reddick to third.
Ryan Blaney finished fourth after leading a race-high 143 laps, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.
“It was a little loose on corner exit. That turn two was a battle – a couple of guys spun right in front of me over there,” Busch said. “We gave it our best. Once we got that sorted out in turn two, some of the other parts of the track got tight for us, but my car really surprised me on the refires. We were okay on older tires – usually, I’m a sticker guy. My crew chief, Billy Scott, said ‘No, you are going to stay out buddy.’ Really happy with the run. Thanks to MoneyLion, Toyota, everybody that was on our team this weekend. That’s a really good top-five, checked box for 23XI.”
Briscoe took the lead from Chase Elliott on a lap-230 restart that followed a Martin Truex Jr. spin because of a blown right-front tire on lap 221.
“Yeah, those restarts, I mean, we were sliding, everything else. I hope the race fans enjoyed the race,” Briscoe said. “It was unbelievable from my point. Thank you, guys, for coming out. We missed you the last two years with COVID and everything else. So thankful to have guys back. Without you guys, we don’t have a sport, don’t get to race, do what we do for a living. I wish my wife and baby were here. Definitely special and one that’s going to be remembered forever.”
Elliott eventually was the culprit of the eighth and final caution of the race when he spun with nine laps remaining.
Briscoe ran up front for the remainder of the race, leading a total of 101 laps by the checkered flag.
William Byron won the opening 60-lap stage of the race after taking the lead from Briscoe on a lap-53 restart.
Blaney started on the pole and Denny Hamlin alongside on the front row. They ran first and second, with Blaney leading, until a lap-25 competition caution. They were first and second off pit road during the yellow but both drivers were speeding in the pits. As a result, Joey Logano inherited the lead after a two-tire stop.
Briscoe took the lead from Logano on lap 33, one lap after the restart.
The yellow flag waved once for an on-track incident in the opening stage — on lap 46 for a wheel issue on Corey LaJoie’s car.
Blaney retook the lead through pot strategy for the start of the second 125-lap stage. After pitting during the LaJoie caution, he stayed out during the yellow at the end of stage one. He was one of four drivers who stayed out after the opening stage. Kyle Busch utilized the same strategy after getting behind when he stalled his car on pit road during the competition caution.
Chase Elliott, with the benefit of newer tires, quickly moved toward the front and into second position. But, by then, Blaney already had pulled out to a sizable lead. Elliott took the lead by beating Blaney out of the pits during a lap-119 caution for Christopher Bell.
With equal tires, Blaney retook the lead from Elliott on lap 133 and drove on to a stage-two win on lap 185.
Eliott was back up front, though, after beating Blaney off pit road after the second stage. Actually, three drivers beat Blaney out of the pits, relegating him to fourth for the restart.
“I lost the lead there on pit road and just could never get back. I don’t know,” Blaney said. “Just didn’t have quite the speed and was kind of too tight. I could drive up through the field and make good spots and nobody could really do that. You would just get really tight behind people. Not a bad day. A good recovery from last week. We had a fast car, just a shame we couldn’t contend more for the win. It is cool to see Briscoe get his first win and we will go on to next week.”
Kevin Harvick finished sixth Sunday, extending his string of consecutive top-10s at Phoenix Raceway to 18, matching a record of most consecutive top-10 finishes at a single track held by NASCAR Hall of Famers and seven-time champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, both with 18-straight top-10s ant North Wilkesboro Speedway.
“It was a good day for us. Restarts weren’t 100 percent our strong point,” Harvick said. “We had a bit of a brake shake issue that kept pulling the car to the right under braking, so I couldn’t get into corners like I wanted to. Still a good day and the car ran good. I just couldn’t really connect all the corners altogether through the day. Putting a SHR car in victory lane and running inside the top-five all day for us is always a good day.”
Kyle Busch finished seventh, Logano was eighth, Daniel Suarez ninth, and Chris Buescher finished 10th.
RUOFF MORTGAGE 500 RESULTS