Story By: BRANDON LEE / ROUSH FENWAY RACING – AVONDALE, AZ – Ryan Newman will make his 36th start at Phoenix this weekend, the track where he earned his most-recent NCS win.
He won the spring 2017 race after starting 22nd en route to his 18th Cup win.
The 2020 NASCAR season comes to a close this weekend out west, where Phoenix Raceway hosts the finale for the first time in its history.
The return to Arizona is also unique in that the spring race at Phoenix marked the last pre-COVID event for the series, as the pandemic ultimately postponed the schedule for two months following. Despite the hiatus, the #NASCARPlayoffs schedule remained intact, with Phoenix capping the 36-race campaign.
Four weeks of NASCAR action were completed prior to the COVID-19 hiatus with races at Atlanta, Homestead, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, Dover and Martinsville postponed before the schedule later picked back up in mid-May.
Sunday’s starting lineup will be set by three competition-based metrics, rewarding both season-long and single-race performance, and will be announced later in the week.
Newman Historically at Phoenix
Overall at the 1-mile track, Newman has 12 top-10s, 10 of which were inside the top five, with an average finish of 16.7. He also won the 2010 spring race in Arizona.
Dating back four events at Phoenix, Newman has an average finish of 13th, including a 12th-place finish last spring. Newman missed the spring race this season, as it marked one of the three events he missed following his accident in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Newman has four Cup poles at Phoenix and an average starting position of 14.3, with the most recent pole coming in 2008.
He also has two starts in the Xfinity Series, finishing fourth back in 2011.
Scott Graves Historically at Phoenix
Graves will call his eighth Cup event at Phoenix on Sunday. He has an average finish of 15.3 in seven starts at the 1-mile track, with a best finish of eighth in 2018.
Most recently, Graves finished 12th and 18th with Newman last year, and finished 23rd with Ross Chastain this spring as he was filling in for Newman.
Graves also has seven Xfinity starts with a pair of top fives. He led Daniel Suarez to a third-place run in 2016, and followed that with a fifth-place finish that fall.
Newman on racing at Phoenix:
“We go to every race track to try to win and put our best effort forward, and Phoenix will be no different. Obviously, we are not in the Championship 4 but the reality is, we do have the ability to win the race and end on the season on a good note. I missed this race back in the spring, but it is a fun track and one I’ve been fortunate to have some success at, so we’re looking forward to the weekend in the Guaranteed Rate Ford.”
Last Time Out
Newman had speed early on in the goings Sunday at Martinsville, earning stage points in the midway part of the race, before going on to finish 18th in the Guaranteed Rate Ford.