Phoenix finish has familiar feel as William Byron wins again

AP photo by Darryl Webb / William Byron, left, races ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson during Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race in Avondale, Ariz.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — William Byron took advantage of a late restart to win, just like one week earlier.

Kyle Larson was the victim of Byron's late restart prowess, just like one week earlier.

It was a strange bit of NASCAR déjà vu at Phoenix Raceway, where Byron earned his second straight Cup Series victory by beating out his Hendrick Motorsports teammate — among others — in overtime on Sunday.

"I don't love winning races that way, it's very stressful," Byron said, grinning. "A lot of tactics going on with the restarts."

Late restarts may add to Byron's stress, but they're also adding to his win total.

His No. 24 Chevrolet got a great start in overtime with two laps left, and just like he did a week earlier at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he overtook Larson for the win. He also had to hold off Ryan Blaney, who finished second in the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske, while Tyler Reddick was third in the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing.

Byron's victory also denied Kevin Harvick his 10th win at Phoenix. Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing 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.

A yellow flag with 10 laps remaining dashed the veteran driver's hopes.

Several cars 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 snatched away the victory. Larson wound up fourth, capping a frustrating finish.

"Restarts are just tough," Larson said. "I felt like I ran William up pretty high and was expecting him to lose some grip. But he did a really good job of holding and cleared me down the back stretch."

Byron and Larson had the fastest cars for most of Sunday's 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 at Phoenix, leading 59 of the first 60 laps, and Larson won the second stage.

All four Hendrick cars were inside the top 10. Alex Bowman was ninth, while Josh Berry — filling in for the injured Chase Elliott — was 10th.

Harvick was attempting to become the sixth driver in Cup Series history to win 10 times at one track, an exclusive club that includes Dale Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson, David Pearson, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. The 47-year-old has said this will be his final season of Cup Series competition, but he should have another chance at No. 10 because the season finishes in the desert.

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 to 2013 and is the most top-10 results in a row at one track in Cup Series history.

It was one of the hottest days of the year so far in Phoenix, with the temperature climbing close to 80 degrees. 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. Byron said he wasn't sure the changes led to better racing.

"I thought it was really difficult to drive," Byron said. "From an objective standpoint — I know we were competitive — but I didn't think we could pass any better. So there's still some work to do there."

With the three-race West Coast swing over, NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend.