Motorsport News

Big 6 Questions After the 2023 United Rentals 500 at Phoenix

2023 Cup Phoenix I pack racing IV - William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (Credit: NKP)

Who … should you be talking about after the race?

William Byron had the best car early, taking the lead on lap two and handily winning the first stage. He lost the lead to Kyle Larson at the start of stage two and finished second to his teammate in that segment. 

Then, in the second half, Byron lost second to Kevin Harvick and fell out of the top five. He was set for a solid finish if not a spectacular one. 

That was until Harrison Burton went for a spin. Burton’s spin and the resulting caution gave Byron a shot, and he exited the pits in second. Another caution then allowed him to pass Larson, where he held onto the lead in an overtime finish to take his second win in a row and second of 2023.

And don’t forget Tyler Reddick. Reddick’s start in 2023 has been a nightmare as bad luck — not bad racing — relegated him to finishes of 39th, 34th and 15th to open the season. 

Reddick showed Sunday what he and his team are really made of. Starting 12th, Reddick began to pick his way forward almost immediately, finishing fifth in each of the first two stages before charging to third on the final restart. He leaves the West Coast 20th in points but with momentum on his side at last.

What … is the big question leaving this race in the rearview?

Burton deserves a thank-you note from Byron because he’s certainly not getting any love from Harvick after spinning with 10 to go. The aftermath of the spin saw the complexion of the race change dramatically.

The finish might have been more exciting for fans because it came with an overtime restart after another caution on the restart from the Burton spin. But fans should be asking whether the caution was necessary at all. Burton spun all the way around and then drove away. He didn’t hit anything and sustained little, if any, damage. But the flag came out as soon as he got out of shape.

The same scenario played out a week ago in Las Vegas when Aric Almirola brushed the wall, bringing out a yellow flag despite no visible debris shed, and the subsequent restart changed the outcome dramatically.

The safety of drivers has to come first and if a caution is needed at any time in a race, it should fly, no question. But it’s not automatically necessitated every time a driver spins and drives off or even touches the wall. And if a caution isn’t needed for something early in a race, it shouldn’t be needed at the end, either, even if it sets up an exciting…

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