NASCAR: William Byron gets second win in a row at Phoenix
William Byron won his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series race, taking advantage of a pair of late cautions to give the rolling Hendrick Motorsports team a victory in overtime at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday.
Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet got a great start in overtime with two laps left, and just like he did a week earlier at Las Vegas, he overtook teammate Kyle Larson for the win. He also had to hold off Ryan Blaney, who finished second, while Tyler Reddick was third.
Byron denied Kevin Harvick a chance to win his 10th race at Phoenix. Harvick’s Stewart-Haas No. 4 Ford passed Larson for the lead with 44 laps remaining, taking advantage of the long run under green-flag conditions that favored his car all afternoon.
But a yellow flag with 10 laps remaining dashed Harvick’s hopes.
Several drivers changed just two tires on the ensuing pit stop, but Harvick took four, falling back to seventh place for the restart with three laps left. He finished fifth.
Another caution immediately after the restart sent the race to overtime.
Rajah Caruth didn’t step into a race car until 2019 but even before his first lap Mike Beam, the man who owns that car, knew he would be a great driver.
Larson — whose No. 5 Chevrolet was the fastest during Friday’s practice and also during Saturday’s qualifying — was fading after Harvick’s pass, but the late yellow flags gave him a chance until Byron’s late push. Larson finished fourth.
Harvick was attempting to become the sixth driver in Cup history to win 10 times at one track, an exclusive club that includes Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson. The 47-year-old has said this will be his final season.
Byron and Larson had the fastest cars for most of the race. It continued a dominant stretch by the two Hendrick drivers, who were 1-2 for much of the Las Vegas race.
Byron won the first stage, leading 59 of the first 60 laps. Larson won the second stage.
Harvick’s attempt at a 10th win at Phoenix understandably attracted the most attention, but the race was also his 20th straight top 10 finish at the track. That streak dates back to 2013 and is the most top 10s in a row at one track in Cup history.
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