SPORTS Byron wins 2nd straight Cup race, beats Larson at Phoenix


Byron wins 2nd straight Cup race, beats Larson at Phoenix


07:17, March 13, 2023

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — William Byron won his second straight 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.

William Byron, left, leads Kyle Larson early during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Avondale, Ariz. (Photo: AP)

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.

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 consistency

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.

Heat check

It was one of the hottest days of the year so far in Phoenix, with the temperature climbing around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

That made for some uncertainty about how the cars would handle, particularly since the weather was much cooler for Friday's practice and Saturday's qualifying.

NASCAR was also debuting a new rules package for short tracks and road courses, limiting the downforce that helps gives the cars traction.

Odds and ends

Green-flag pit stops around the 120-lap mark led to pit road speeding penalties for multiple drivers, including Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Erik Jones and Austin Cindric. Busch was also penalized on the same stop for an uncontrolled tire on pit road. ... Josh Berry, filling in for Chase Elliott, finished 10th. Elliott is expected to be out at least another month because of a broken leg suffered while snowboarding. ... Phoenix Raceway is the once again the site of the Cup championship in November.

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