William Byron Wins Phoenix After Late Cautions
Kevin Harvick has won at Phoenix Raceway nine times. His last finish outside of the top ten came all the way back in March of 2013, just over a decade ago. That makes him the prohibitive favorite any time he races here, and Kyle Larson knew that when Harvick was chasing him down for the race lead on the day's final stint. Harvick caught and passed him with just under 50 laps to go, then sailed away for what looked like his tenth win at the track.
Then, a spin. Harrison Burton found himself in the wall, and, although he got back to the pit lane almost immediately, NASCAR called a caution with just under ten laps to go. Six drivers took just two tires on the final stop, including the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets of Larson and William Byron that had led most of the race before Harvick's strong late surge. Harvick took four, leaving him to re-start in seventh. Another spin half a lap into the final three-lap run set up an overtime finish, and a strong block by Ross Chastain out of turn 4 meant that Harvick was not even the leading driver with four fresh tires on the following restart, losing that spot to Tyler Reddick.
Byron and Larson came to the green side-by-side on that final restart and held that line into turn 3, while Reddick pushed his way through the field. Byron would eventually clear Larson, leaving Reddick caught up in a fight with Larson and Ryan Blaney on their older tires. With a few more laps, Reddick would have caught and passed Byron. Instead, the two-lap overtime format and the correct decision on the day's final stop led Byron to a win for the second straight weekend.
That marks the fourth win in four races for Chevrolet, although two Fords and two Toyotas did factor into the finish of today's race. Byron's second win also officially locks him into the playoffs so long as he either starts every race or receives a waiver for any races missed, meaning the team has 32 other races to test things out without any risk and gather playoff points with further wins and strong results.
NASCAR continues with a race at the recently-reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. That track, once a beloved low-grip intermediate oval, has been re-designed into a narrower and shorter version of the high-banked superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega and has held draft-focused races since debuting in its new form last season.
You Might Also Like