Is Hendrick Motorsports the team to beat in Phoenix?

With their NASCAR Cup Series leading 282nd victory and second consecutive win of the 2022 season (Auto Club, Las Vegas), Hendrick Motorsports has quickly put the competition in the garage on notice.

They’ve won two straight on the season and 7 of the last 8 if you date back to last season.

In a highly strategic move last weekend at Las Vegas following a late caution in the race, three of the Hendrick Motorsports cars took two tires on the final pit stop beating the field off pit road and then chose to lineup with two cars on the front row and one on the inside lane virtually ‘boxing-out’ the competition at the final restart heading into overtime. The outcome was racing mastery at the team level that worked to perfection and as a result, it was a battle amongst Hendrick teammates to decide the race. 

In a door-to-door overtime contest Alex Bowman out drove Kyle Larson in the final laps and claimed his first win of the season and seventh of his career. With the Las Vegas victory, Bowman jumped 17 spots in the series driver standings up to eighth; just 33 points back from his teammate Kyle Larson in the standings lead and locked himself into the Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

Since the start of the 2021 season to now, Hendrick Motorsports has won 19 races – double that of the next highest organization during the same time frame (Joe Gibbs Racing, nine wins)

Plus, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, has returned to the top of the series driver standings following his win at Auto Club Speedway and runner-up finish last weekend at Las Vegas. Chase Elliott ranks seventh in the standings, followed by Bowman in eighth and William Byron is 21st.

Hendrick Motorsports now turns their attention to Phoenix Raceway where they lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins with 12 victories; including the last two Championship races: Terry Labonte (1994), Kyle Busch (2005), Jeff Gordon (2007, 2011), Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008 sweep, 2009), Mark Martin (2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2015), Chase Elliott (2020), Kyle Larson (2021). 

With a victory this weekend, Larson can become the seventh different driver to win consecutive Cup Series races at Phoenix Raceway; joining Davey Allison (1991,1992), Jeff Burton (2000, 2001), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2004), Kevin Harvick (swept 2006, 2013 Playoff race, swept 2014 and 2015 spring race), Jimmie Johnson (fall race of 2007, swept 2008), and Kyle Busch (2018 Playoff race, 2019).

The thing is, can they pick up another triumph on Sunday?

Both Alex Bowman and William Byron are 0-for-8 in terms of top fives with HMS at Phoenix. Larson, was 0-for-14 at Phoenix prior to his Fall win a year ago and Elliott (+800) does have 3 straight top five finishes here, but he’s only 1-for-12 in the Arizona desert and hasn’t won on an oval since this very track in Nov. 2020.

So, which wins out this weekend?

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