NASCAR Cup Series
Unofficial Race Results: United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway
Mar 12, 2023
William Byron, the ice man? In Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500, Byron scored his second-consecutive victory and for the second straight week, Byron came from behind on an overtime restart to score the win.
The 25-year-old Hendrick Motorsports racer is showing the level of steely nerves you'd expect from a driver 10 years his senior.
Byron snagged the lead twice on the day, the first time on Lap 2, when he worked his way around his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson for the top spot. Byron would maintain that lead until the end of Stage 1.
After Larson took over as the dominant force for the remainder of the race, it was Byron that worked his way around Larson yet again for the race lead and win on lap 316.
The win for Byron was set up by an incredible two-tire call from his crew chief Rudy Fugle on a late-race caution, which set up the fevered finish.
"Owe the last couple weeks to him," Byron said of Fugle. "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."
On the final lap, Ryan Blaney would squeak his way to a runner-up finish, while Tyler Reddick would follow through to finish third.
For Reddick, who actually provided a massive shove for Byron, who was battling Larson for the win, he felt a little disappointed that he couldn't score the win with four fresh tires in the closing laps.
"I just needed to execute on that restart," Reddick stated. "Just didn't get the launch I needed to with Williams' back bumper to take advantage of it in turn one. Very frustrating naturally. Last year, the same thing didn't have the best of restarts and finished third. Everybody on the Beast Unleashed Toyota Camry TRD did a really good job. This car was solidly I would say a third- to fifth-place car all day long. Bringing home third, but obviously when you're on four, have a position to have the restart, you want to capitalize. So frustrated for sure."
While Reddick was frustrated that he couldn't get the job done, his level of frustration didn't even measure on the radar compared to Larson.
While it was elation for Byron, it was another week of disappointments for Larson, who faded to finish fourth in the race's closing laps.
"Yeah, I'm pissed off," Larson said on missing out on winning for the second-straight week. "Great fight by the team, great car, way better than we were here last year. Yeah, I mean, it's a long season, but hopefully, we're in the Final 4 when we come back here in November and can have a run similar to that with speed and try to execute a little bit better at the end."
While Larson felt another opportunity slip through his grasp, the win in Sunday's race actually belonged to Kevin Harvick, who worked his way around Larson for the race lead on lap 269.
As Harvick pulled away from Larson by more than three seconds, it appeared the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang was on the path to his 61st-career NASCAR Cup Series win.
However, a caution with 10 laps remaining in the event for a spinning Harrison Burton erased Harvick's lead. And when the field came to pit road, Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers opted to bolt on four fresh tires. Harvick would slip to seventh on the ensuing pair of restarts, and he would never be able to knife his way back to the front.
Harvick would end the day in fifth.
Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, and Josh Berry rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race. For Berry, who is substituting for the injured Chase Elliott, this marked his first-career NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish.
Meanwhile, Bowman is enjoying an incredible start to his 2023 season, the first with new crew chief Blake Harris. Bowman, by finishing ninth on Sunday, is the only driver who has finished inside the top 10 in all four races to start the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The NASCAR Cup Series will now head back East to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend for the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, March 19th.
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images