NASCAR Cup Series: William Byron Claims Back-To-Back Checkered Flags At Phoenix Raceway

NASCAR: United Rentals Work United 500

NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick was close to joining an exclusive fraternity.

Leading by over five seconds with 15 laps to go during Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Harvick’s membership path appeared clear.

As the 36-car field opened up during long, green-flag runs, Harvick looked like he would join icons Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jimmie Johnson, David Pearson, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip as the lone pilots to earn 10 wins at one track.

Then, Harrison Burton’s tire blew out and William Byron took advantage of an overtime run to capture back-to-back races for the Hendrick Motorsports team.

Now Harvick will have to wait until the season-finale at Phoenix for his next chance to earn initiation into the elite club.

William Byron Upstages Dominant Kyle Larson In Overtime 

One week after going 1-2-3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports placed all four drivers in the lead pack. Byron captured back-to-back races, crediting crew chief Rudy Fugle for another clutch two-tire change call. The extra few seconds of saved time again made a difference.  

“Owe the last couple weeks to him,” Byron said in a post-race live interview on Fox Sports.  “He’s done a really good job 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.” 

Highlighting Hendrick Motorsports’ weekend, Larson ended up fourth after leading for 201 of 317 laps. Alex Bowman placed ninth and rookie Josh Berry earned his first career Cup top 10. Larson also started from the pole and placed first during Friday’s practice session.  

Bowman, who is the lone Cup driver to compile four top-10 finishes this season, leads the points standings with 154. Byron ranks fourth (144 points) and Larson (137) is tied for fifth.

Kevin Harvick: ‘That’s The Way It Goes’

Byron’s winning move Sunday came off the final restart. Battling Larson for the lead, the teammates raced side-by-by side until Tyler Reddick came up on the outside to give Byron a push, propelling him to a final one-mile lap sprint for his sixth career Cup win.  

Harvick earned his 20th consecutive top 10 finish at Phoenix on Sunday, but it was of little consolation. Burton’s spin out brought the pack together and led to a final pit stop. Harvick’s team elected to change four tires, while Byron, Larson, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin elected to go for two-tire changes. Harvick emerged in seventh place. 

“That’s the way it goes,” Harvick said. “Just smoked ‘em until the caution. We didn’t need that caution at the end.” 

Larson surged to the lead on the Lap 310 restart, but when AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson mixed it up along the backstretch, NASCAR race officials called for overtime, positioning Byron to overtake Larson on the restart. 

“I felt like I ran William up pretty high,” Larson said. “I was expecting him to lose some grip. But he did a really good job of holding it to my outside, clearing me down the back. 

“Yeah, I’m pissed off.” 

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