NAS: William Byron earns Phoenix checkered flag for second straight win
Another two-lap shootout proved to be no problem for Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron.
Byron got a strong push from Tyler Reddick, passed teammate Kyle Larson and won in NASCAR overtime at Phoenix Raceway, claiming the United Rentals Work United 500 on Sunday in Avondale, Ariz.
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Wrecks by Harrison Burton and A.J. Allmendinger brought out two late cautions, but on the final restart, Byron started outside of Larson and received a winning shove from Reddick’s No. 45 Toyota going into Turn 3.
“Strategy-wise and execution-wise, we’ve done a good job to put ourselves in those positions on the front row with a shot at the end,” said Byron, who held off Larson in overtime last week in Las Vegas.
After also winning at Las Vegas last week, Byron recorded his first win and first top-five finish at Phoenix Raceway.
The back-to-back victories made him the first multiple winner in the Cup Series over the season’s first four races.
Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by Reddick.
Fourth-place Larson lost a late two-tire stop with Byron last week in Nevada. On Sunday, he led a race-high 202 laps before being passed by Kevin Harvick.
“I felt like I ran William up pretty high, and I was expecting him to lose some grip,” Larson said. “But he did a really good job of holding it to my outside and cleared me.”
A nine-time Phoenix winner, Harvick eventually finished fifth and came home inside the top 10 for the 20th consecutive race in the desert.
“We smoked them up until the caution,” said Harvick, who had a healthy lead with 10 laps to go before Burton’s incident.
In the final event of its three-race Western swing, NASCAR implemented its new package used at shorter ovals and road courses. That included a rear spoiler reduced in half — creating less downforce around the 1-mile track.
Larson put his No. 5 Chevrolet in the top spot, but Byron grabbed the lead from Larson after one lap and ran away from the 36-car field like he did in Nevada last Sunday.
In an incident-free Stage 1, Byron’s No. 24 Camaro headed the point over the 60-lap segment as cars slid around the slick speedway on the warmest day of the week.
Byron, who won both stages last week, beat Larson by over two seconds to claim the playoff bonus points at Lap 60 as the first caution flew.
Larson was first off pit road and won the 125-lap Stage 2 by just over a second over Byron. But on Lap 137, Aric Almirola produced the first caution for cause when he broke a right-front wheel and hit the frontstretch wall.
–Field Level Media
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