AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — William Byron's victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway denied Kevin Harvick his 10th win at the 1.0-mile speedway.
Harvick's Stewart-Haas No. 4 Ford passed Kyle Larson for the lead with 44 laps remaining, taking advantage of the long run under green-flag conditions that favored his car all afternoon.
But a yellow flag with 10 laps remaining dashed Harvick's hopes.
Several drivers 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.
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 back to 2013 and is the most top 10s in a row at one track in Cup history.
“That one is not fun to swallow,” said Harvick. “We had a great car and didn’t need that caution at the end. We had a strong car and a chance to win. Just hate missing an opportunity when you have a car that strong.”
Not All Roses
Hendrick Motorsports is on a roll, but the team's week in Phoenix wasn't totally filled with good news.
NASCAR officials took the hood louvers from the four Hendrick cars Friday and will bring them to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in North Carolina for inspection. Any potential penalties would be announced next week.
If that caused any distractions, it certainly didn't show on Sunday.
“It’s a test of mental strength,” Byron's crew chief Rudy Fugle said. “That’s what it takes to win in this series.”
It was one of the hottest days of the year so far in Phoenix, with the temperature climbing around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.”
Odds And Ends
Green-flag pit stops around the 120-lap mark led to pit road speeding penalties for multiple drivers, including Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Erik Jones and Austin Cindric. Busch was also penalized on the same stop for an uncontrolled tire on pit road. He recovered to finish eighth. ... Chase Elliott is expected to be out at least another month because of a broken leg suffered while snowboarding. Josh Berry's 10th place finish came in his second Cup start. ... Phoenix Raceway is the once again the site of the Cup championship in November.
The three-race West Coast swing is over. NASCAR moves to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend.