NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale at Phoenix
Date: Nov. 7, 2021
Event: Season Finale 500 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)
Format: 312 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/115 laps/122 laps)
Champion: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
SHR Race Finish:
● Aric Almirola (Started 18th, Finished 6th / Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
● Kevin Harvick (Started 9th, Finished 8th / Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
● Cole Custer (Started 7th, Finished 13th / Running, completed 312 of 312 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 22nd, Finished 35th / Accident, completed 153 of 312 laps)
● Kevin Harvick (5th with 2,361 points)
● Aric Almirola (15th with 2,215 points)
● Chase Briscoe (23rd with 655 points)
● Cole Custer (26th with 575 points)
● Almirola earned his fifth top-10 of the season and his seventh top-10 in 22 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
● This was Almirola’s second straight top-10. He finished sixth in the series’ prior race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
● This was Almirola’s fourth straight top-15 at Phoenix.
● Harvick earned his 24th top-10 of the season and his 27th top-10 in 38 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
● Harvick’s 24 top-10s in 2021 is the third highest total among NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin earned more top-10s this season, with Larson securing 26 top-10s and Hamlin getting 25 top-10s.
● Harvick’s 27 top-10s at Phoenix are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
● This was Harvick’s 17th straight top-10 at Phoenix. The last time he finished outside the top-10 was March 3, 2013 when he finished 13th.
● Harvick finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and sixth in Stage 2 to earn five more bonus points.
● Harvick led one lap, increasing his laps led total at Phoenix to a series-leading 1,663.
● Harvick has now led 11,356 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,781 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
● Custer earned his eighth top-15 of the season and his second top-15 in four career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Phoenix.
● Custer finished seventh in Stage 1 to earn four bonus points.
● When the checkered flag dropped on the Season Finale 500, Briscoe was officially named the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Briscoe was the highest-finishing rookie 29 times this season.
● Briscoe is one of only three drivers to win the rookie-of-the-year title in all three of NASCAR’s top national touring series – Camping World Truck (2017), Xfinity (2019) and Cup (2021). He joins William Byron and Erik Jones.
● Kyle Larson won the Season Finale 500 to score his 16th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-high 10th of the season and his first at Phoenix. His margin over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was .398 of a second.
● Larson earned his first NASCAR Cup Series championship by virtue of his win. He is the 35th different driver to win the series title.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 51 laps.
● Only 24 of the 39 drivers in the Season Finale 500 finished on the lead lap.
Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a really, really good long-run HighPoint.com Mustang, but our short-run speed, we were just trying to hang on. We were three-wide one time off of turn four and the 18 got into me a little and gave it a little bit of a tire rub. I think he was getting frustrated because I was just trying to hold those guys up as long as I could, because I knew if I made it 15 laps I would be OK. He got into me into (turn) three. I feel like, at the same time, my left-rear tire cut. I don’t know if that was from the damage earlier and then when he got into me the second time it finally cut it or what. At that point, I was along for the ride. It is super unfortunate. We had a top-10 car, and if we could have had some long runs maybe even a top-five car. We went all year long and never crashed a car, so to end it on the last one like that is unfortunate. You always want a good run at the end of the season to build momentum into the off-season. You just want to have good runs every week. I hate it that it ended this way, but I am looking forward to the future and everything that entails.
“It’s definitely cool to end the season as Rookie of the Year and to have that in all three series. I definitely had higher expectations coming into this year, but it was a weird year. As a company, we struggled way more than we thought we would. You base your expectations off of last year, and we just weren’t quite there from a performance standpoint, so you alter those expectations a little bit. The 14 team was competitive in a couple of races and battling for a few wins and top-fives. I think we have proved that whenever we get the car driving right and have the speed, we are fully capable of running up front with those guys. I wouldn’t say the season was a thumbs up or a thumbs down, maybe somewhere in the middle. There is still a lot that I have to learn to do better. The Cup Series guys are so good. You have to be on it 100 percent and clean up a lot of little things. I feel like going into the Next Gen car it will be nice to have a year under my belt and know all the little things to work on during the off-season to try to apply to next year.”
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“What a season. What a day. We worked so hard to finish off the season strong, and we ran where this 10 team was capable of running all year. It was such a rollercoaster of a year. We had some really high highs and really low lows. We capped off the season with two sixth-place finishes when we’re running in the midst of the championship-contending playoff drivers, and I can’t be prouder of that after the year we’ve had.”
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We started off strong today and finished in the top-10 in the first stage but then started to really struggle with the balance on our racecar in the second stage. That caution during green-flag pit stops in the final stage put us back, but we were able to recover for a top-15. Thankful for the support this season from all of our sponsors, Ford Performance and SHR. We learned a lot this season and will continue to build in 2022.”
The 2022 season begins with the non-points Busch Clash on Feb. 6 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before kicking off its 36-race slate of points-paying events with the 64th Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. FS1 will broadcast the Busch Clash at the Coliseum and FOX will broadcast the Daytona 500. Each event will be live and can also be heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.