NASCAR: Looking back at the last five Phoenix races

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images /

The NASCAR Cup Series makes its first trip of the year to ISM Raceway. What do the last five races at the track tell us about this year’s edition?

This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series travels to Arizona for a race at Phoenix Race…oh, wait, it’s called ISM Raceway now, isn’t it? Okay! The NASCAR Cup Series travels to Arizona for a race at ISM Raceway.

Let’s take a look back at the past five races at Pho…ISM. I promise I’ll get this right eventually, but I also keep finding myself referring to Charlotte as Lowe’s Motor Speedway, so it’ll take some time.

Anyway, we visit ISM Raceway twice a year, so let’s look at the last five results at the track, beginning with the 2015 fall race.

Fall 2015

If I was starting with the 2015 spring race, I could mention that it was Kevin Harvick’s fourth consecutive win at the track, but in the fall race it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning, with Harvick leading 143 laps and finishing second. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. Earnhardt won because of weather, with rain falling during green flag pit stops. In an alternate universe where the race got going again, we’re probably discussing Harvick’s fifth straight win at the track.

Spring 2016

But don’t worry, because Harvick got back to victory lane in the 2016 spring race. The main photo for this article shows how close Carl Edwards came to beating him, but that #4 car prevailed again, with Harvick winning for the fifth time in his last six races at the track. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch had top five finishes as well as the Gibbs cars tried their best to dethrone Harvick. The race was also marred by tire issues.

Also, here’s a video of the finish, because it was a great finish:

Fall 2016

Harvick didn’t lead a single lap, but Alex Bowman sure did! Driving in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowman led 194 laps from the pole, but he finished sixth. Matt Kenseth almost won, but a late caution gave the rest of the field a chance, and then Kenseth got spun. In the end, it was Joey Logano winning, with Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Harvick, and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.

Spring 2017

Ryan Newman stayed out for the final restart and won for the first time as a member of Richard Childress Racing. Kyle Larson was second, Kyle Busch was third, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five, with Harvick finishing sixth.

Fall 2017

The last time the NASCAR Cup Series came to this track, Matt Kenseth won for the final time of his Cup career. Denny Hamlin led the most laps, but he finished 35th after an…incident…with Chase Elliott. Elliott went on to finish second. Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.


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Smart money is always to just look at ISM Raceway, look at Kevin Harvick, look back at the track, and then pick Harvick to either win the race or at least finish near the front. It’s a track where he has been dominant in the past, but it is worth noting that his dominance feels like it hasn’t kept up at the track lately. He has only won once in the last five races at the track. He’s still a threat to win and is the favorite to do so, especially after winning two of the three Cup Series races so far this season. Maybe he’ll even win it without part of the car weirdly failing!

The Gibbs cars are always tough here as well. Alex Bowman could have his best run of this young season. And Kyle Larson has been a steady part of the top five here lately — except when he blows an engine as he did in the fall race last year.

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

Make sure you watch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series first trip of 2018 to ISM Raceway, the TicketGuardian 500. The race is set to air on Sunday, March 11th at 3:30 pm EST on Fox.