|Base||Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States|
|Series||Sprint Cup Series
|Race drivers||Sprint Cup Series:
51. Regan Smith/A.J. Allmendinger/Austin Dillon/Ryan Truex
1. Kurt Busch
|Sponsors||Phoenix Construction (1 & 51)|
|Debut||1989 All Pro 300|
Sprint Cup: 1
Nationwide Series: 13
Phoenix Racing is a NASCAR team owned by James Finch. It currently fields two unsponsored Chevrolets - the No. 51 Chevrolet SS for Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger, and Ryan Truex in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (they also had a one race deal with Austin Dillon at Las Vegas) and the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro for Kurt Busch in the Nationwide Series.
Phoenix Racing began racing in the Cup Series in 1990, when it fielded the #51 Plasti-Kote Chevrolet Lumina for Jeff Purvis. In four races, Purvis failed to finish a race, his best finishing being a 31st at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Phoenix attempted to run a full schedule in 1991, but soon cut back to a part-time schedule, completing six races in total. Due to a lack of funding, the team only ran two races in 1992, with Finch's company Phoenix Construction of Panama City, FL serving as sponsor. In 1993, the team ran all of the restrictor plate races on the schedule, except for the Daytona 500, for which they failed to qualify. For 1994, they picked up sponsorship from Country Time and had planned to run a limited schedule with Neil Bonnett driving. Bonnett was killed in a practice crash at Daytona before the 1994 Daytona 500, and Purvis was brought back to drive the car. In six races, his best finish was 21st. Phoenix changed its number to 44 in 1995, and ran six more races with Purvis and Jackaroo Sauce, only finishing one race. MCA Records became the new sponsor for 1996, and the team had two top-ten qualification starts, but could not finish higher than twelfth.
After staying out of Cup for several years, Finch purchased a number of Ford Tauruses from Bill Elliott Racing, and ran all of the 2001 schedule's restrictor plate races with Purvis driving the #51, only finishing one race. In 2002, the team picked up funding from Miccosukee and switched to the #09. Driver Geoffrey Bodine had a third place finish in the Daytona 500, and later had a 2nd-place qualification at the Pepsi 400. Mike Wallace ran a limited schedule for Phoenix in 2003, and had two top-ten finishes. Scott Pruett and Buckshot Jones also ran one race deals for the team that season, during which they switched to Dodge. The team began 2004 with Joe Ruttman and Johnny Benson sharing the ride. Ruttman would later become infamous for a "start and park" at Rockingham, where he appeared at the race without a pit crew, was parked after one lap, and collected $54,000 for a last-place finish. The team later said they would be "legitimate racing" after the incident. Bobby Hamilton, Jr. then drove for six races during the middle of the season, before Wallace and Johnny Sauter returned to run the tail part of the season. Pruett and Tony Raines, also ran in one-off attempts in the car. Sauter drove ten races in the #09 in 2005, and had a ninth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. Late in the season, Bobby Hamilton and Reed Sorenson drove the 09 at Martinsville and Homestead, respectively.
Beginning in 2006, Phoenix abbreviated the 09's schedule even further, switching back and forth between Dodge and Ford. Mike Wallace ran just three races and failed to finish higher than seventeenth. Mayfield ran the season-ending Ford 400, but did not finish due to an oil leak. Wallace had a fourth place finish in the 2007 Daytona 500, but the team did not qualify for another race until the final two races of the year, when Sterling Marlin drove. For 2008, Marlin ran 10–12 races for Phoenix.
Phoenix Racing announced for 2009 that they would be running two different makes of cars for the upcoming Sprint Cup season. The #09 was shared by Marlin, Phoenix's Nationwide Series driver Mike Bliss, and Brad Keselowski. The team fielded Dodges for the majority of the season, except for when Keselowski and Fellows drove for the team, they fielded Chevrolets. After 19 years in the Cup Series Phoenix Racing finally won its first race, taking the Aaron's 499 with Keselowski behind the wheel. Keselowski wrecked Carl Edwards when Edwards attempted a second block on Keselowski's passing move, but Keselowski held his ground and drove to the finish to lead his only lap of the day and win the race.
Aric Almirola was hired to drive for the team in 2010. Phoenix lost its Miccosukee sponsorship at the beginning of the 2010 season; its struggles continued as Almirola failed to qualify three of the first seven events, including the Daytona 500. Almirola left the team after Phoenix and was replaced by Mike Bliss and a handful of other drivers, including Landon Cassill, Jan Magnussen, and Bobby Labonte.
Phoenix Racing returned in 2011 despite rumors that Finch had been trying to sell the team. Bill Elliott drove the first 3 races before Landon Cassill took over the ride with sponsorship from Security Benefit. In June 2011, prior to the Kansas race, the team changed the car number to #51, which Phoenix Racing originally used when it first competed in the then-Winston Cup Series. For 2012, Cassill was replaced by Kurt Busch.
In 2012, the team ran most of the season unsponsored, and Busch's best finish with the team was a 3rd place finish at Sonoma. He would leave the team following the fall Talladega race for Furniture Row Racing, and was supposed to be replaced by Regan Smith until Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered a concussion in the aftermath of the Talladega race and Smith was needed as a sub for the Charlotte and Kansas races in the Chase. A.J. Allmendinger drove the #51 for those two races.
Citing the recurring lack of stable sponsorship, Finch announced in May 2013 that he would close operations after the 2013 Brickyard 400.
Phoenix made its debut in 1989 with the #49 Buick driven by Jeff Purvis at Charlotte. They ran four races together the following season in the #15 car, but had three engine failures. The next season, Phoenix and Purvis ran four consecutive races in the #14/#23 Seal-Tech Buick, with a best finish of seventeenth. After a seventh-place finish at Talladega in 1992, the team ran as the #28 Havoline Ford for three races, and then changed to the #4 Kodak Funsaver Camera Chevrolet in 1993. Purvis won his first pole at Talladega in 1994 as the #51 Country Time car, then switched back to the #4 Kodak car the next year, where he had three top-ten finishes.
Phoenix Racing made its first full-time season in 1996, despite the #4 not having major sponsorship. Purvis won two races and a pole position, finishing seventh in points. Purvis ran the first four races of the 1997, and had a top-ten finish, but was replaced by Tim Steele, who brought sponsorship from HS Die. He had two top-tens, but injuries forced him to exit the ride. He was replaced by multiple drivers, with Dale Shaw running a majority of the races that season, including a 2nd place finish at South Boston Speedway. Sterling Marlin, Ernie Irvan, and Ron Fellows filled in for Shaw when he could not run. Kevin Lepage then drove two races near the end of the season, before Purvis returned to drive the last race of the year. In 1998, Purvis was again named full-time driver, with Lance Snacks sponsoring. Purvis made 26 starts, missing one race due to injury, during which he was replaced by Dennis Setzer, and an additional four races during which he was suspended for rough driving. Nathan Buttke and Matt Hutter took his place for those races.
Purvis and Lance Snacks departed for Bechtel/Gibbs Racing at the end of the year, taking the #4 with him. Phoenix Racing switched to the #1 and hired Randy LaJoie to drive. They did not have major sponsorship of start the season, and signed a one-race deal with Jani-King before winning the season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300. Bob Evans Restaurants then became the sponsor, and LaJoie finished tenth in points. He followed that up with a victory at USA and a seventh-place finish in points in 2000. P. J. Jones was named driver of the #1 for 2001, bringing Yellow Freight sponsorship. After four races, he was replaced by Jimmy Spencer who drove in eighteen races for Phoenix, winning three races. Bobby Hamilton, Lepage, and Joe Ruttman filled in for Spencer on occasion. Phoenix dropped to a part-time schedule in 2002, with Spencer driving 23 races and winning twice, and Ruttman and Martin Truex, Jr. running one race apiece. In 2003, they formed a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing and fielded the #1 full-time for two Ganassi drivers, Cup series driver Jamie McMurray and developmental driver David Stremme. McMurray had two wins, both at Rockingham, while Stremme made 16 starts, had two top-fives and won Rookie of the Year honors.
Johnny Benson was named full-time driver in 2004, with Miccosukee Resorts being named the new sponsor. He won one pole and had four top-tens when he was released after ten starts. McMurray ran three of the next four races, and Purvis returned for one race at Nazareth Speedway. Buckshot Jones drove the next two races with the return of Yellow Transportation to the team, followed by Tony Raines, Casey Mears, Bobby Hamilton, Sterling Marlin, Reed Sorenson, and Regan Smith. Johnny Sauter was named the permanent driver of the #1 in 2005, winning at Milwaukee and finishing twelfth in points after Boris Said took his place at the Mexico race. Sauter left for Haas CNC Racing and took the sponsorship with im, and Jason Keller was hired to drive. After eight races, Keller was fired and Mike Wallace took over for most of the season, garnering two top-five finishes, with Scott Pruett and development driver Cale Gale filling in. For 2007, J. J. Yeley was named the new driver of the #1, but struggled and only had one top-ten finish and missed six races, with Benson, Marlin and Max Papis filling for most of those races.
In 2008, Sauter returned to the team, but was released after five races. After Sterling Marlin drove one race, Mike Bliss was named the permanent driver of the #1 car. Marc Reno, who was born in California and currently resides in Concord, NC, serves as the crew chief and manages the team. He returned to the car after a solid season in 2008 for a full 2009 campaign. On May 23, 2009, Mike Bliss scored his second career Nationwide win and eleventh win for the team at Lowe's Motor Speedway by taking advantage of fuel mileage and a race-ending caution near the end of the race because of rain. In August 2009, Bliss was released due to conflicts with crew chief Marc Reno. Ryan Newman, Reed Sorenson, Max Papis, Martin Truex, Jr., David Gilliland, and Landon Cassill also took turns sharing the ride following Bliss' release. Rookie James Buescher was to drive the car full-time in 2010, but Finch put his entire operation up for sale on April 24. On May 12, 2010 Buescher parted ways with Phoenix Racing, Ryan Newman will drive at Dover.
On July 6, 2012 Phoenix recorded its first Nationwide Series win in three years when Kurt Busch, who would make occasional starts for the team that season, won the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona for his fifth win in the series and his first for another team owner besides Roger Penske and Kyle Busch
Phoenix Racing began running two cars in 2000, when Matt Hutter drove the #51 at Daytona and Talladega, with Tracfone sponsoring; his best finish was 19th. LaJoie drove late in the season at Homestead, when P.J. Jones drove the 1. In 2005, they began fielding the #09 for three races, with Boris Said, Wallace, and Eric McClure driving. They began fielding the second car full-time in 2007, when Wallace drove the #7 GEICO Chevrolet. Despite failing to finish in the top-ten, he finished 11th in points. In 2008, the team switched to the #4, and leased its owners points to Jay Robinson Racing. Robinson ran the #4 car on a full-time basis, although Phoenix did field the #4 for Landon Cassill at Mexico City.
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.