Race Weekend Central

William Byron Wins at Phoenix for 2nd Straight Cup Victory

William Byron was able to sweep past teammate Kyle Larson on a green-white-checkered restart to steal the lead away Sunday (March 12). From there, he held on to win the United Rentals Work United 500, his second straight win.

Byron dominated stage one to claim a playoff point, but had faded to fourth with 73 laps to go. However, a late-race caution due to Harrison Burton‘s spin put the cars on pit road with eight laps to go. Kevin Harvick came in the leader and left in seventh after taking four tires. Byron took two tires and was able to get by Larson, Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick to take the lead on the final lap.

Byron was once again grateful for crew chief Rudy Fugle in his post-race interview with FOX Sports’ Regan Smith.

“[Fugle’s] done a really good job strategy-wise and execution-wise,” Byron said. “Execution-wise, we’ve done a really good job to put ourselves in those positions on the front row with a shot at the end. So thanks to everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports putting together great cars and this is a big credit to them.”

Larson had been dominant from stage two forward, winning that stage and was leading with 43 to go. That’s when Harvick made his move. It’s a heartbreaker for Harvick, who was looking for his 10th win at the track in the desert.

A disappointed Harvick told FOX Sports’ Jamie Little, “I didn’t get a couple cars when that first caution came out and kind of lost our chance. Those cars were quite a bit slower and they get all jammed up, but that’s just the way it goes.”

Larson was more frustrated than disappointed with his comments to Fox Sports.

“We got lucky with the late caution and the team made a great call to take two to get us the lead,” Larson stated. “I felt like I ran William [Byron] pretty high and I was expecting him to lose some grip, but he did a really good job of holding to my outside and was able to clear me down the back. I’m pissed off, but great fight by the team and a great car, way better here than we were last year.”

Blaney scored his best finish of the season, finishing second. Reddick rebounded nicely on four fresh tires to finish third. Larson and Harvick rounded out the top five.

Christopher Bell was sixth, while last year’s winner Chase Briscoe finished seventh. Kyle Busch rallied from a double penalty on pit road in stage two (speeding on pit entry, then an uncontrolled tire during the stop) to finish eighth. Alex Bowman finished ninth and Josh Berry made huge gains over Las Vegas in relief of Chase Elliott to finish 10th. It’s Berry’s best career finish in four career starts.

Sunday marked the debut of a new short track aero package that took away 30% of the downforce on these cars. The package seemed to improve racing quality throughout the day, as drivers had difficulty passing and were sliding around all day long. In addition, the sliding led to additional tire wear.

Despite the new package, the race was pretty quiet on incidents until the final 10 laps. There were five cautions in total for 35 laps.

Defending series champion Joey Logano, who was very dominant last fall here in the championship race, seemed to struggle with the new aero package. He was behind all race, and even went down a lap late in stage one. After getting back onto the lead lap, Logano rallied to finish 11th, but was never a factor despite the improvement.


The NASCAR Cup Series will be seen again at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. ET.

About the author

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share this article