AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – William Byron won his second straight NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, taking advantage of a pair of late cautions to give the Rolling Hendrick Motorsports team the victory in overtime at Phoenix Raceway.
Byrne’s No. 24 Chevrolet got off to a great start in overtime with two laps remaining, and just like he did a week ago At Las Vegas, he held off teammate Kyle Larson for the win. He also had to hold off Ryan Blaney, who finished second, while Tyler Reddick finished 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 favoring 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 stops, but Harvick took four, falling to seventh on the restart with three laps left. He finished fifth.
Another caution shortly after the restart sent the race to overtime.
Larson – whose No. 5 Chevrolet was fastest during Friday practice and also during Saturday’s qualifying – was fading after Harvick’s pass, but a late yellow flag gave him the opportunity to make a late push on Byron. 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 that this will be his last season.
Byrne and Larson had the fastest cars for most of the race. This continued a dominant stretch by the two Hendrick drivers, who were 1–2 for most of the Las Vegas race.
Byrne won the first stage, leading 59 of the first 60 laps. Larsson won the second stage.
Harvick’s effort at the 10th win at Phoenix attracted the most attention, but was also his 20th straight Top 10 finish at the race track. The streak dates back to 2013 and is the most consecutive Top 10s at one track in Cup history.
It was one of the hottest days ever in Phoenix, with temperatures climbing nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
This made for some uncertainty about how the cars would handle, especially since the weather was too cold for Friday practice and Saturday’s qualifying.
NASCAR was also introducing a new rule package for short tracks and road courses, which limits the downforce that helps give cars traction.
odds and ends
Green-flag pit stops around the 120-lap mark led to pit road speeding penalties for several drivers, including Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Erik Jones and Austin Cindric. Busch was also penalized at the same stop for an uncontrolled tire on pit road. … Josh Berry finished 10th in place of Chase Elliott. Elliott is expected to be out for at least another month after breaking his foot while snowboarding. … Phoenix Raceway is once again the site of the Cup Championship in November.