The Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway is now officially in the record books, after Ryan Newman broke a nearly four-year losing streak in an amazing finish that saw him hold off Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch to break a 127-race winless streak.
Here are six quick takeaways from the Valley of the Sun.
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It’s never over until it’s over
Kyle Busch led a race-high 114 laps and appeared to have the race locked up, but Joey Logano blew a tire with four laps to go to bring out a caution. Most of the leaders pitted, but three drivers stayed out — Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.
With the race in overtime, Newman was able to use his old tires to bring home the trophy. The last time Richard Childress Racing won a Cup race was here in November 2013 with Kevin Harvick. And the last time Newman won was the 2013 Brickyard 400.
Busch vs. Logano
Anyone expecting Round 2 of Kyle Busch vs. Joey Logano went away disappointed. There were no real fireworks between the two, who fought at Las Vegas a week earlier and were called to the NASCAR hauler to chat on Friday.
Logano led 74 of the first 75 laps to win Stage 1, but on Lap 106, Busch cleanly passed Logano for fourth place. The woes intensified for the Team Penske driver when he was caught speeding in section 14 on Lap 119. And his day ended with a right-front tire failure.
Busch, on the other hand, rallied strong after he took the lead for good near the Lap-200 mark. And after not finishing in the top 15 in any of the first three races, Busch nearly won, but was disappointed to come up short.
Tires were a big issue in Phoenix, with Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth suffering melted beads on their right-front tires and Denny Hamlin suffering a puncture. David Ragan also cut a tire after contact with another car.
It was an interesting afternoon for eight-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick, who qualified 23rd and hadn’t shown a lot of speed earlier in the weekend with his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
But he and crew chief Rodney Childers kept digging and the result was a sixth-place finish. It wasn’t the ninth Phoenix victory Harvick wanted, but he and the team took lemons and made lemonade.
Keeping it close
Kyle Larson has now put together an enviable record, finishing second in four of the last five Cup races, dating back to Homestead last November. On Friday I asked him if he was frustrated about not winning and he said, no, he was just happy to run so well. If he finishes second consistently, he will be a championship contender.
But he was not happy to finish second today. On the other hand, he leaves Phoenix with the points lead.
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As we’ve seen so many times, it’s a lot easier to lose a race than it is to win one. After leading 103 laps at Phoenix, Chase Elliott had successive poor restarts following a pair of cautions in the second half of the race.
Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fast, but not enough to overcome those two poor restarts. He finished 12th.
Martin Truex Jr., last week’s winner in Las Vegas, had an air gun jam on a pit stop when he was running around the top 10. He came out 26th, and like Elliott, Truex had a fast car — but not enough to get back to the front. Truex later ran over Michael McDowell’s air hose, fouling up another pit stop. Truex ended up 11th.