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Late Caution Again Lifts William Byron to NASCAR Cup Victory at Phoenix – Motorsports Tribune

Late Caution Again Lifts William Byron to NASCAR Cup Victory at Phoenix – Motorsports Tribune

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick hate late-race cautions. 

William Byron loves them. 

After a two-tire call under the fourth caution flag in Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Byron surged past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson in overtime to win his second straight NASCAR Cup Series race. 

Byron can thank Ford drivers Aric Almirola and Harrison Burton, who on successive weekends spun with a handful of laps left—at Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively—and gave Byron a chance to capitalize on the opportunity. 

As a result, Byron had his second victory of the season and a guaranteed ticket into the Cup Series Playoff. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet won for the first time at Phoenix and for the sixth time in his career. 

Byron credited crew chief Rudy Fugle with the two-tire call that got him out front with a chance to win. 

“Owe the last couple weeks to him,” said Byron, who also won at Las Vegas on two fresh tires. “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.  

“Thanks to everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports, putting together great cars, doing a great job. This is a big credit to them, engine shop, (team owner Rick) Hendrick, everybody.”  

Harvick leaves his best track with a mountain of frustration as tall as spectator-friendly Rattlesnake Hill at the east end of the 1.0-mile speedway. That he posted his 20th straight top 10 at Phoenix—a NASCAR Cup record for a single track—was of scant consolation. 

“It’s what I would have done,” Harvick said of crew chief Rodney Childers’ four-tire call. “I’d always rather be on offense. I just didn’t get a couple cars when that first caution came out. Kind of lost our chance. Still thought I had a chance there at the end. Those cars were quite a bit slower. They get all jammed up. 

“That’s the way it goes. Just smoked ’em up until the caution. They did a great job with our Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang. Didn’t need the caution at the end.” 

Harvick had a commanding lead when Burton spun at the start/finish line on Lap 302 of 312. Harvick took four new tires on the ensuing pit stop but came out seventh behind Larson, Byron, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin—all of whom opted for two…

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