via Imago

via Imago

‘Toyota’ was the theme in the Phoenix desert. Christopher Bell claimed the win, while Ty Gibbs, another Toyota ace, the duo leading a whopping 107 laps combined. Toyota flexed their muscle big time, landing five of their cars in the top 11, all outfitted with the short track packages. They really showed Chevrolet and Ford how it’s done this time around. And with Richmond on the horizon, where the same short track setup will be in play, it looks like we might be seeing a lot more of Toyota’s red streaking through the raceway.

Are Chevy and Ford out of the league with the new short-track setup?

At the Phoenix race, NASCAR rolled out a new package for short tracks and road courses, and let’s just say, Toyota drivers were probably throwing a party while Ford and Chevy teams might’ve wished for a do-over. That’s because Todd Gilliland was the lone Ford highlight in a race nearly dominated by Toyota. Chevy, on a hot streak with three wins to start the season, barely made a peep, with just Ross Chastain cracking the top 10. Toyotas led almost the whole race, except for a brief 14 laps.


Article continues below this ad

Yet, drivers like Kyle Larson and Joey Logano have shone on these tracks before. But the struggle Ford and Chevy faced in Phoenix is hard to overlook. Lee Spencer from GoPRNLive chimed in on the matter, noting that Toyotas may have started slow this season but “the fact that um they were dominant with the new short track package at Phoenix, I would not discount the Toyota’s chances this weekend whether or not the race is named on their behalf. But uh I think that any of those four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers would have to be in my top picks to win the race.”

The new short track package introduced at Phoenix dialed back the front downforce on the cars. To make up for this, they bumped the rear spoiler up from two to three inches tall, keeping its length the same. Goodyear rolled out a fresh tire to match the updated setup. Chase Briscoe from Ford thought the new package was a step up, but had gripes about the tires.

Most drivers weren’t fussing over the tires though; it was more about how their cars were handling. Christopher Bell, however, didn’t seem to sweat it, making an impressive leap of 17 spots in just 34 laps near the end of the race. But for the Chevy squad, especially the folks over at Hendrick Motorsports, cooler temps might just be their ace in the hole since they’ve historically upped their game when the mercury falls.

Mr. H’s team might just have an edge over the Toyota gang with the upcoming night race at Richmond


Article continues below this ad


Exclusive: Rick Hendrick’s Prodigy Indebted to Bubba Wallace for Carving His Talent Amid Preparation for Cup Series Jump

Kyle Busch Among the Biggest Roadblocks for Bubba Wallace, Who Is on the Brink of Missing His Second Playoff Appearance

Outspoken Veteran Ignoring Chase Elliott to Club Denny Hamlin & Bubba Wallace With Hailie Deegan in NASCAR’s Elite List Enrages Fans

Exclusive: This Leah Pruett Factor Could Be the Reason Behind Tony Stewart’s NASCAR Exit, Insinuates Xfinity Debutant

“I Wasn’t Nearly Where He Is” : Denny Hamlin Forecasts Multiple NASCAR Championships for Michael Jordan’s Cup-Ready Prodigy

Alex Bowman shared with Racing America that although Richmond Raceway hasn’t always been their strong suit, they seem to hit their stride when it cools down. The warmer weather tends to throw them off their game. This time around, the Cup Series is heading into its second night race of the season.

Byron, boasting the highest number of wins in night races since the Next Gen car made its debut, has bagged three such victories. In his last six nighttime outings, #24 has not only clinched two wins but also never finished outside the top nine. In fact, the whole HMS team shines during night races, leading the pack with five wins in the Next Gen era. Byron leads the charge with three, while Chase Elliott and Larson each have notched a win when the lights are on.

Even Rudy Fugle, Byron’s crew chief, reiterated what Alex Bowman said in his interview about Richmond’s night race. “We haven’t raced the Next Gen there at the night time at all. Here’s not usually a ton of side-by-side racing, but there are a lot of comers and goers that turn into pit strategy options on what is going to work better. […] With a night race and cool temperatures, that may give us a chance of seeing more side-by-side racing. We may see more of why this place used to be called the ‘Actic Track,” Fugle feels.


Article continues below this ad

Well, it’s just a matter of time before we will see if Richmond’s short track setup takes the spotlight or if the cooler evening works in the teams’ favor.

Read More: Christopher Bell Overcame a “Lot of New” to Hand Toyota Their First Win of the Season