Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway was chock full of surprises, led by race winner Ryan Newman, who broke a 127-race winless streak for himself and a 112-race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.
But there were other surprises in addition to Newman’s late-race charge to victory.
Here are seven of the biggest surprises we saw in the fourth points race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Eight-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick was the favorite coming in, but his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford didn’t have winning speed pretty much all weekend long. Still, thanks in large part to excellent pit stops, Harvick was able to finish sixth, a respectable result.
Larson leaves with points lead
For the fourth time in the last five races, Kyle Larson finished in second place, which meant he left Phoenix with the points lead. According to NASCAR, this was the first time a Chip Ganassi-owned car has led the points since Sterling Marlin in 2002. Jamie McMurray led the points after winning the 2010 Daytona 500, but that was in an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Top five for Stenhouse Jr.
Last year, Stenhouse had just four top fives and for his career, he has just eight in 152 Cup starts. But he had a great run in the Roush Fenway Racing Ford, finishing fourth. That should give the team momentum heading into Auto Club Speedway, where Stenhouse ran well last year.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukNigel Kinrade
Sunday saw rookie drivers Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones finish seventh and eighth, respectively, in their Toyotas. For both drivers, it was their career-best Cup finishes and their first top 10s.
Kurt Busch opened the season with a dramatic victory in the Daytona 500, but at Phoenix he had alternator problems just like he did the week before at Las Vegas. This time, Busch finished 25th.
Penalty for Keselowski?
Brad Keselowski’s Team Penske Ford failed the weights and measures section of inspection but NASCAR did not offer specifics of why the car flunked. That will be announced later in the week.
Per the NASCAR Rule Book, violations of the weights and measures section could carry possible penalties of 10 to 40 points, a one- to three-race suspension for the crew chief and fines of $25,000 to $75,000.
At Phoenix, Kyle Busch led 114 laps, Chase Elliott was out front for 104 and Joey Logano led 82. But Logano had a bead melt on his right-front tire, sending him into the wall and a 31st-place finish. Elliott faded in the final stages of the race and finished 12th, while Busch got beat on tire strategy by race-winner Ryan Newman and wound up third.