Byron Back to Back in Cup Phoenix Round;
Hendrick Motorsports Sees Body Panels Confiscated
By Dave Hascall
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) Driver William Byron was a back-to-back NASCAR Cup series winner, as he took Sunday’s United Rental’s “Work United 500,” at the Phoenix Raceway. The historic one-mile oval, near the Phoenix suburb of Avondale, races more like a short track than the larger tracks that have been raced upon this season. HMS drivers Byron and Kyle Larson split the opening stages, while Kevin Harvick steadily advanced to the point. Harvick overtook Larson with just 44 laps to go and was steadily pulling away. Harvick, the leader of wins, laps lead and top 5 for Phoenix, had his amazing run thwarted just 7 laps from the end when Harrison Burton spun and the caution flag flew. Several drivers leapfrogged Harvick in the pits by taking just two tires. Byron surged ahead as yet another caution flag waved as several cars crashed. Byron held firm on the final restart, winning over Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Larson, and Harvick.
HMS had their other drivers in the Top Ten, with Alex Bowman in 9th and Josh Berry in 10th. Bowman is subbing for fan favorite Chase Elliot, who is mending following a snowboarding accident before the last race, but HMS might be hurting even more. After Friday’s loan Cup Practice Session, NASCAR confiscated hood louvers from all four HMS Chevrolets. The louvers are an aerodynamic release point of air that flows over the radiators. Without these louvers, mechanics often taped off air inlets on the front of the race cars but this often caused the engines to overheat. Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley (#31 Chevrolet) had his louvers confiscated Saturday, after qualifying. Suspect parts are taken back to NASCAR’s R&D lab in North Carolina and any penalties are released on Tuesday.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sammy Smith took Saturday’s Xfinity Series win over teammate Ryan Truex. It was the 18-year-old Smith’s first Xfinity Win. I’m sure the High Schooler will have great stories to tell his classmates today.