Sunday saw William Byron, for two-weeks in a row, beat Kyle Larson in a overtime restart to win the Cup Series race, this time at Phoenix Raceway in the United Rentals Work United 500. Kevin Harvick had overtaken Larson for the lead with 43 laps to go but a caution with 11 laps to go for Harrison Burton blowing a tyre, saw Harvick lose the lead on pit road and fall back to seventh, having taken four tyres, while Larson and Byron came off pit road first and second on just two tyres.
William Byron had taken the lead away from pole-sitter Kyle Larson on lap two and went on to win stage one but Kyle Larson took the lead back on pit road during the stage break and won stage two.
Heading towards the white flag, Tyler Reddick gave a helpful push to Byron coming down the backstretch heading, as Blaney, Larson and Byron were three-wide for the lead with Byron on the outside, helping Byron clear Larson and Blaney going into turn four to take the white flag and the checkered flag.
It’s Byron sixth career win and his first at Phoenix in the Cup Series.
Byron thanked crew chief Rudy Fugle for the win saying: “Owe the last couple weeks to him. 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.”
Kyle Larson led 201 of the 312 laps so was not too pleased to come in fourth after losing the win to Byron in the same fashion for two-weeks running, being beat in last week’s overtime restart in Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 400-mile race, saying: “Restarts are just tough. [Byron] did a really good job of holding it to my outside, clearing me down the back. Yeah, I’m pissed off.”
Kevin Harvick aka “The Closer” was looking to become a 10-time Phoenix Cup Series winner. Having started 15th, he finished eighth and third in stages one and two respectively before in the final stage on a long green flag run passed Larson for the lead with 43 laps to go.
Harvick was clear sailing prior to the caution with 11 laps to go and was not able to gain any positions when the field went back to green with three laps to go before Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger, and Ty Gibbs wrecked in turns one and two sending the race into overtime.
Harvick said: “That’s the way it goes. Just smoked ’em up until the caution. They did a great job with our Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang. Didn’t need the caution at the end.”
It was Harvick’s 20th straight top-10 finish at Phoenix Raceway in the Cup Series.
Ryan Blaney had a strong race from start to finish coming home in the runner up spot. Blaney finished sixth and eighth in stage one and two respectively. The Team Penske driver was running sixth at the time of Burton blowing his tyre.
Ford and former Penske teammate Brad Keselowski also had a strong race prior to the overtime finish, being ninth and fourth in stages one and two respectively before finishing eighteenth.
Josh Berry, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott, drove the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet to an impressive 10th place finish. Berry was getting used up in stage one struggling to get inside the top 25. The full-time JR Motorsports Xfinity driver worked his way into the top 15 in the final stage before finishing one place behind Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman, placing all four Hendrick Chevrolet’s in the top-10.
Rest of race recap
The United Rentals 500 marked the debut of the new short track package, seeing a 30% reduction in downforce compared to last year’s short track package, due in part to halving the spoiler from four inches to two.
The cars were permitted to race in wet conditions if they occurred during the race as part of NASCAR’s expansion to allow wet-weather racing at one mile or less sized oval tracks in addition to the road course races.
2021 Phoenix winner Kyle Larson led the field to green flag before Byron released Larson of the lead getting by on the inside of turn one on lap two.
With under ten to go in stage one, BJ McLeod retired with a fuel pump issue before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tagged the turn one wall running 25th but was able to continue. Byron led the rest of the laps to win stage one.
During the stage one caution break, Kyle Larson was able to win back the lead on pit road in part to having the number one pit stall at the end of pit road.
Aric Almirola brought out the caution on lap 139 after his wheel hub and tyre broke free. Larson was first off pit road again and went on to win stage two.
Harvick started the final stage side-by-side with Larson on the restart but Larson quickly pulled away to a 2.5 second gap by lap 207.
During the rest of the final stage, the whole field split the 127-lap stage in half except Erik Jones who stayed out in the lead on old tyres until Kyle Larson caught and passed him for the lead on much fresher tyres with 52 laps to go. Jones was hoping for a caution to force everybody else down pit road again while with the lead but one didn’t come before having to pit. Jones finished 21st.
As the run went on Harvick closed back down the gap to Larson to just 0.3 seconds and cleared him coming out of turn three with 43 laps to go.
The crash that led to the overtime finish came from Gragson and AJ Allmendinger colliding into the turn two wall together, while Gibbs piled into the back of them after getting tangled with Corey Lajoie on the high lane in turn one.
The 2022 Hamlin-Chastain clash was revived on the final lap when Denny Hamlin washed up the race track in turn two dragging Chastain into the wall. Hamlin had spent most of the day in the top five but would only come home 23rd in the end, with Chastain 24th. Both had a long conversation with each other on pit road post-race.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday, with the race starting at 3pm ET.
Featured image: William Byron, driver of the #24 Valvoline Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway on March 12, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
William Byron dominated Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, leading 176 of the 267 laps, sweeping all three stages, and passing Martin Truex Jr. in overtime to take his first Cup win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Byron had battled hard with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson all race long for control of the lead and just pipped the Larson to the pit road exit line, seeing him line-up alongside Truex Jr. for the overtime restart, who gambled to stay out on old tyres.
Byron said: “Yeah, just happy with getting the first win of the year. It’s been a while since we’ve won. It’s been almost a year, and it’s nice to kind of just get back to what I feel like we’re capable of.”
Byron was part of Hendrick Motorsports’ third one-two-three finish in the teams Cup Series career with Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman finishing second and third respectively, finishing the race how they ended stage two. Hendrick’s previous one-two-three finish came in the 2021 spring Dover race where it was also Hendrick’s first one-two-three-four finish with Byron finishing fourth and Alex Bowman taking the spoils that day.
Byron first took the lead on lap 10 from pole-sitter Joey Logano. From then on it was mostly smooth sailing for the first stage with Larson keeping tabs on the Charlotte, North Carolinian finishing just under a second behind him.
Stage two was a carbon copy for both drivers with Larson once again finishing second in stage two under a second behind Byron. The final stage saw the roles reversed with Byron losing places on pit road under caution on lap 184, and starting fourth on the restart with Larson in third.
Larson was all over Denny Hamlin, who had stayed out on older tyres, for the lead and finally claimed top spot in the running order with 71 laps to go. Larson pulled out a five second-plus gap to Byron over the course of the final stage but this was eradicated when the caution came out with four to go in response to Aric Almirola sliding into a spin against the turn four wall.
At the time of caution Byron had halved the gap down to 2.4 seconds but it looked like a tall-order to have caught Larson without the Californian making a mistake or traffic getting in the way before they yellow flags waved.
Larson was only able to clear Truex Jr. with half a lap to go on the backstretch to finish runner-up.
Larson commented: “It seems like kind of laps down, lap by lap, and then, sure enough, the yellow lights come on. I had a gap to William behind me, and their pit crew must have just done a really good job and got out in front of us, and that gave up the front row. I knew I was in trouble with the 19 staying out.”
A dominant display by Hendrick comes on the week of teammate and 2020 NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott being forced to sit out indefinitely after fracturing his tibia in a snowboarding accident in Colorado last Friday.
Team owner Rick Hendrick speaking on Friday about NASCAR’s most popular driver said: “Chase’s health is our primary concern. He’s understandably disappointed to miss time in the car.”
JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry stood in for Elliott on Sunday, finishing 29th, two laps down, in his first race in the Next Gen car.
Bubba Wallace had a stand-out day running inside the top ten for most of the race, taking sixth in stage two and eighth in stage one, and coming home fourth. After not finishing either of the first two races of the season, it’s a much needed boost of confidence and points for the No. 23 team.
Wallace said: “Never stop fighting. You never give up. I almost come over the radio and said, hey, good job, we finished sixth, then the caution came out, and I perked up again and got some.”
Wallace’s teammate Tyler Reddick had a wild day after marching up to 19th, just 11 laps after starting the race in the rear. Reddick nearly let a good points day get away when inside of 65 laps to go, he ripped the turns three and four wall running sixth, sending him back to tenth. Reddick would finish 15th, after coming into the weekend with just four points after being wrecked out of the first two races.
Sunday’s pole-sitter Joey Logano and last week’s Auto Club finale winner Kyle Busch both difficult races.
After losing the lead on lap 10 to Byron, Logano fought a tight handling race car for the first half of the race, clinging onto the top 15.
The two-time Pennzoil 400 winner asked a little too much of his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang on lap 182, when while he was battling three-wide on the outside with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch coming off turn four over 14th place, he ran out of real estate, colliding with the wall before spinning across the track into the infield grass. Logano’s team were not able to fix the car under the damage vehicle policy in time, forcing him to retire.
Kyle Busch made contact with the yellow outside walls several times during the race including twice in stage one, once clattering the turn two wall hard, bending the steering angle whilst challenging Hamlin for ninth place, but was able to continue.
Kyle Busch's hard hit into the turn two wall during stage 1. He's currently challenging Hamlin for 9th place!pic.twitter.com/srnHvC3ntK
The Las Vegas native wound up 14th in a weekend where he had attempted to sweep all three national series races taking place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, trying to replicate his Bristol Motor Speedway’s 2010 and 2017 weekend sweeps.
Busch won the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team but could only manage fourth in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race driving for Kaulig Racing.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, with the race starting at 3:30pm ET.
Featured Image: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
This Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500 on its 75th anniversary. 40 cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd for 200 laps (500 miles), in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves in the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day.
Starting lineup/paint schemes
Starting lineup summary
Multi-platinum American country singer Dierks Bentley will host this year’s pre-race concert starting at 1:30pm ET. Pre-race ceremonies for Sunday’s Great American Race begin at 2:45pm ET, with the green flag flying at 3:14pm ET.
For viewers in the UK, the race programme will be shown on ViaPlay Sports starting 6:30pm UK time.
Daytona 500 starting lineup
Here is how the 40-car field will lineup for the 2023 Daytona 500.
1st. On pole is Alex Bowman after setting a blistering lap speed of 181.686mph to secure his third career Daytona 500 pole. The Hendrick Motorsports driver started second in last year’s race. The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet driver will try to get Mr. Hendrick his first Daytona 500 win since Dale Earnhardt Jr’s 2014 win; NASCAR’s most popular driver from 2003-2017 and son of the late seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.
2nd. Joining Bowman on the front row will be Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson. The 2021 Cup Series champion, and last year’s Daytona 500 pole winner will be piloting the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet.
3rd. Starting third is the reigning two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano after winning the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 on Thursday night. The 2015 Daytona winner will drive the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Team Penske.
4th. Starting fourth is the 2014 Daytona Summer winner (Coke Zero 400), Aric Almirola after winning the second Bluegreen Vacations duel. Almirola was due to retire at the end of last season but was persuaded to stay on at Stewart-Haas Racing. He will drive the No. 10 Smithfield Ford.
5th. Starting fifth is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell making his fourth Daytona 500 start. While not having won a race on the Daytona oval in NASCAR’s national series, Bell did get his first Cup win at Daytona in the Daytona Road Course in 2021.
6th. The reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric will start sixth. Cindric, now in his second full-time season will pilot the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske.
7th. Starting seventh is Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney. The 2018 Daytona duel one winner and two-time Daytona 500 runner up will drive the No. 12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford.
8th. Joining Blaney on the fourth row is the 2020 Cup Series champion and 2018 Daytona duel two winner Chase Elliott. He will drive the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
9th. Starting from the fifth row in ninth place is last year’s Daytona duel two winner Chris Buescher. The Texas native will drive the No. 17 Fastenal Ford for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.
10th. Rounding out the fifth row in tenth is the 2016 Coke Zero 400 winner Brad Keselowski. Still looking for his first Daytona 500 win, Keselowski will pilot the No. 6 Nexlizet Ford.
11th. Starting 11th is the 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell. He will drive the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops for Front Row Motorsports.
12th. Starting 12th in his eighth Daytona 500 is Corey LaJoie. LaJoie has a best finish of eighth in the 2020 Daytona 500. He will pilot the No. 7 Celsius Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.
13th. Starting 13th is the 2007 Daytona 500 winner and 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. He will drive the No. 4 Busch Light Ford.
14th. Starting 14th, making his second Daytona 500 start is Todd Gilliland. He will drive the No. 38 gener8tor Skills Ford for Front Row Motorsports.
15th. Starting 15th is the 2018 and 2022 Daytona 500 runner up Bubba Wallace. Wallace won the rain shortened autumn Talladega race in 2021, becoming the first African-American driver to win a Cup race since Wendell Scott in 1963. Wallace will drive the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota for 23XI Racing.
16th. Starting 16th is the 2016 Daytona 500 runner up Martin Truex Jr. The 2017 Cup Series champion will drive the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
17th. Starting in 17th place is the reigning Craftsman Truck Series Champion Zane Smith, making his second Daytona 500 start. He will be piloting the No. 36 Wellcare Ford for Front Row Motorsports.
18th. Starting 18th is the three-time Daytona 500 champion (2016, 2019, ’20) Denny Hamlin. He will be joining Cale Yarbrough for second-all time Daytona 500 wins if he takes the chequered flag on Sunday. Hamlin will drive the No. 11 FedEx 50 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
19th. Starting 19th is Harrison Burton, making his second Daytona 500 start in his second full-time season. The son of 21-time Cup winner Jeff Burton will drive the famed Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford.
20th. Making up the tenth row in 20th, in his fourth Daytona 500 start is Ryan Preece. Preece has a best finish of sixth coming in the 2021 Daytona 500. Preece will drive the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
21st. Starting 21st is the last of the Hendrick Chevrolet’s in William Byron. The 2020 Coke Zero 400 winner was third fastest in single-car qualifying ahead of Thursday’s duels. He will drive the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
22nd. Starting 22nd is the first of the Legacy Motor Club cars in Noah Gragson, in his full-time rookie season and second Daytona 500 start. He will drive the No. 42 Wendy’s Chevrolet.
23rd. Starting 23rd is the Hail Melon man, Ross Chastain, making his fifth Daytona 500 start. He has a best finish of seventh from the 2021 Daytona 500 race. The Florida native won last year’s spring Talladega race. He will drive the No. 1 AdventHealth Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.
24th. Starting alongside Chastain in 24th is his Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez. The Mexican-born driver will be making his sixth Daytona 500 start. Suarez made history last year when he became the first Mexican to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he took the chequered flag at Sonoma Raceway. He will pilot the No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet.
25th. Starting 25th is the 2018 Coke Zero 400 and 2020 Daytona Clash winner Erik Jones. He will drive the No. 43 Guns N’ Roses Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club, who of which is co-owned by seven all-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty.
26th. Starting 26th is the 2018 spring Daytona Xfinity Series race winner Tyler Reddick. He will drive the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota for 23XI Racing.
27th. Starting 27th is the 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. He will drive the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
28th. Starting 28th in his third Daytona 500 start is Justin Haley. Haley won the rain shortened Coke Zero 400 in 2019 when his team gambled correctly to stay out.
29th. Starting 29th in his 10th Daytona 500 start is AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger, driving full-time since 2018, for Kaulig Racing, will pilot the No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet.
30th. Rounding out the fifteenth row in 30th is Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe. Briscoe finished third in last year’s Daytona 500. He will drive the No, 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford.
31st. Starting 31st is the 2017 Coke Zero 400 race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He will drive the No. 47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing.
32nd. Starting 32nd in his fifth Daytona 500 start is BJ McLeod. He will drive the No. 78 Power Slap Rumble Chevrolet for Live Fast Motorsports.
33rd. Starting 33rd is the reigning Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs, driving in his first full-time for his grandfather Joe Gibbs, making his first Daytona 500. He will drive the No. 54 Monster Energy/Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
34th. Starting 34th is Conor Daly, after dramatically qualifying his way into the Daytona 500 during the second duel race where he kept out of trouble enough to make the race. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, in his first Daytona 500 start will pilot the No. 50 BitNile.com Chevrolet for The Money Team Racing.
35th. Starting 35th in his fourth Daytona 500 is Cody Ware. He will drive the No. 51 Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford for Rick Ware Racing.
36th. Originally starting 36th is the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Busch had to go to a backup car after spinning out off of the front of Suarez’s car during the duel race . Following NASCAR procedure for going to a backup car, he will move to the back for the start of the race. The Daytona 500 victory has eluded Kyle Busch, having won the 2008 Coke Zero 400, three Daytona duels and the 2012 Daytona clash. He will drive the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.
37th. Starting 37th in his eighth Daytona 500 start is Ty Dillon. Dillon has a best place finish of sixth from the 2019 Daytona 500. Dillon will pilot the No. 77 Ferris Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.
38th. Starting 38th in his first Daytona 500 start is Riley Herbst. Herbst will drive the No. 15 Sunny D Ford for Rick Ware Racing.
39th. Making up the first of two cars on the back is no other than seven-time Cup champion and the 2006 and ’13 Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson. Johnson locked himself in during single-car qualifying and is driving for his co-owned team Legacy Motor Club. He also topped the speed charts in the first of two practice sessions. He will drive the No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet.
40th. Last, but certainly not least is X-Games gold medallist and Hoonigan stunt driver Travis Pastrana. Pastrana, who also locked himself into the race through single-car qualifying will be making his first Daytona 500 start. He will pilot the No. 40 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota for 23XI Racing.
Starting lineup summary
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The 65th running of the Daytona 500 starts at 2:30pm ET!
Featured Image: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, race to the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Bowman was the last car to go out in single- car qualifying’s final round and had to beat Hendrick Motorsport teammate Kyle Larson’s lap speed of 181.057mph. Both Bowman and Larson make up the front row for the Great American Race for two years in a row except it was Larson on pole for last year’s race.
Bowman, who announced a contract extension earlier in the day that sees him through to 2026 with Hendrick said: “This Ally 48 Camaro is obviously really fast. I don’t really have a lot to do with qualifying here, so just fortunate to qualify some really fast race cars.”
Hendrick drivers have won eight of the last nine Daytona 500 poles, and Chevrolet drivers have won the last 11.
It was a Hendrick one-two-three at the end of qualifying with William Byron coming in third with a lap speed of 180.727mph. Unlike his teammates, his starting position for the Daytona 500 will be decided in the duel races as only the front row is locked in for the Daytona 500 ahead of the duels.
It was all Ford’s from fourth to ninth in Almirola, Logano, Briscoe, Blaney, Cindric and Burton. Kyle Busch had his initial top-five time disallowed for dipping his Richard Childress Chevrolet below the double yellow lines on the frontstretch, having to settle for 10th out of the 10 cars in the final round.
Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana were the top two non-chartered cars, qualifying 23rd and 25th with near equal lap speeds; 179.276mph and 179.254mph respectively. There’d been no practice prior to qualifying so it was all the more impressive to see Johnson, the seven-time Cup champions’ first qualifying session with the New Gen Car and Pastrana, making his first Daytona 500 run, lay down competitive lap speeds.
Pastrana said: I just can’t say enough about this 23XI team. And this TRD motor and being able to get on the [simulator], that was everything. Can’t give them enough credit for this opportunity.”
It means that Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill will have to race their way into the Daytona 500. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, was unable to go out to qualify due to a broken oil line. The Money Team Racing car was completely disassembled during qualifying while they awaited the arrival of a replacement oil heater. He consequently qualified 42nd.
An oil line broke on the No. 50 car. Conor Daly told me he isn't sure if the team will be able to fix it in time to post a qualifying lap tonight. #NASCARpic.twitter.com/OMRBa6mXV9
Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith was the best of the rest of the non-chartered cars qualifying 29th with a lap speed of 178.862mph. Austin Hill and Chandler Smith qualified 32nd and 41st.
The single-car qualifying results decide where each driver will start in the Blue Vacations Duel 60-lap qualifying races to determine the starting positions for the Great American Race. The qualifying field will be split into two duels, with the odd numbered qualified cars racing in duel one and even numbered qualified cars in duel two.
The highest finishing non-chartered car from each duel that isn’t locked in from single-car qualifying will lock themselves into Sunday’s race.
The Blue Vacation Duels begin 7pm ET time Thursday night.
Full qualifying results
(48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 181.686 mph.
(5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 181.057 mph.
(24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 180.727 mph.
(10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 180.723 mph.
(22) Joey Logano, Ford, 180.712 mph.
(14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 180.661 mph.
(12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 180.054 mph.
(2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 180.014 mph.
(21) Harrison Burton, Ford, 179.748 mph.
(8) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
(23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 180.011 mph.
(99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 179.921 mph.
(17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 179.888 mph.
(9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 179.881 mph.
(1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 179.863 mph.
(41) Ryan Preece, Ford, 179.849 mph.
(4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 179.684 mph.
(6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 179.673 mph.
(54) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 179.616 mph.
(45) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 179.612 mph.
(20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 179.497 mph.
(19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 179.347 mph.
(84) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 179.276 mph.
(34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 179.265 mph.
(67) Travis Pastrana, Toyota, 179.254 mph.
(11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 179.154 mph.
(43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 178.998 mph.
(42) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 178.941 mph.
(36) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 178.862 mph.
(16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 178.813 mph.
(31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 178.763 mph.
(62) Austin Hill(i), Chevrolet, 178.660 mph.
(3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.525 mph.
(38) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 178.204 mph.
(47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 177.925 mph.
(78) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 177.834 mph.
(51) Cody Ware, Ford, 177.169 mph.
(15) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 176.849 mph.
(77) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 176.315 mph.
(7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 176.287 mph.
(13) Chandler Smith(i), Chevrolet, 175.022 mph.
(50) Conor Daly(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
Featured Image: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, after outdueling Ross Chastain, led the final 53 laps of the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway on Monday to get his first NASCAR Cup win of the season and end his 26 winless streak. It had been 46 races since Elliott’s last oval win; that being at Phoenix in 2020 when he won his first Cup championship.
The final stage of the race had been led by Kyle Busch and Elliott’s Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman but an ill-timed caution with 77 laps to go when both were making their final green flag pit stops of the race, saw them both go a lap down and be forced to take the wave around under caution and start at the tail of the longest line. Bowman would bring the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet home in fifth with Kyle Busch finishing seventh.
2022 two-time winner Ross Chastain had assumed the lead of the race after the ill-timed caution but with 60 to go on a restart, he dueled side by side with Chase Elliott for three laps with neither giving an inch before another caution came out. The next restart saw Elliott power past Chastain on the inside and would lead from then on to take the checkered flag.
Talking to FOX’s Jamie Little, Elliott said they “had some good circumstances finally. We’ve had some tough races over the last four or five months” and also said it was great to get NAPA and Hendrick Motorsports back to victory lane.
Elliott joins the rest of his Hendrick teammates in being a 2022 Cup winner and comes out of Dover retaining the points lead in the regular season championship.
Elliott’s win has made history for Hendrick Motorsports by making them the first team to have four different drivers win a Cup race in the first 11 races of the season. Hendrick also had a one-two-three-four finish at Dover in the 2021 Cup race, which made it the fourth time in NASCAR history that the same organization swept the first four positions in a Cup race.
Kyle Busch led the most laps of the day, leading 133 of the 400 laps, but the ill-timed caution for a loose tyre out on the race track and loss of track position was too much for the birthday boy to overcome. It also ended Busch’s two for two streak of winning when a Cup race fell on his birthday.
The race had originally got under way on Sunday afternoon, with pole sitter Chris Buescher leading the first 18 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. The caution came out on lap 68 for rain and ten laps later the red flag was brought out and the cars were parked on pit road. With the rain intensifying and Dover Motor Speedway not having any floodlights, NASCAR postponed the continuation of the race until Monday at noon.
When they got going again after pit stops, Kyle Larson would take the lead of the race for a few laps before a caution would come out for a spinning Austin Cindric who lost the back end of his car coming out of turn two and would make contact with the outside wall. His day ultimately ended due to the team going over the six minute repair vehicle damage policy on pit road.
Elliott would take over the lead from Larson on the restart and would hold the lead until there were 10 laps to go in stage one when Hamlin would pass him on the inside and go on to win the stage.
Hamlin would lose the lead during the stage break as Hamlin’s team made a costly mistake on pit road of not getting the lug nut on Hamlin’s left front tyre resulting in Hamlin having a race off pit road with his own tyre rolling alongside him and was consequently penalized and sent to the back of the field for the restart.
Stage two saw a roller-coaster of events. Ross Chastain would lead the first part of stage two before Kyle Larson spun in turn four and ended up backwards on the front straightaway, also blowing a tyre in the process. Over halfway through stage two, with Chastain still leading, Kurt Busch would get tagged from behind by AJ Allmendinger out of turn two that would send him spinning on the back straightaway, making minor contact with the inside wall.
Under caution, Justin Haley, who had been legitimately been running inside the top five earlier in the stage, would stay out. A lap after the restart, Joey Logano would bring out the next caution after getting shoulder barged out of the way by Erik Jones heading into turn one, and ending up colliding with the turn one outside wall.
A few laps after the next restart, 2021 winner Bowman would relinquish the lead from Haley. With less than 40 to go Kyle Busch would take over the lead but a caution later inside of 15 to go saw his Joe Gibbs teammate Hamlin getting collected on the front straightaway by a spinning Cody Ware in front of him. Ryan Blaney would stay out on tyres when the rest of the field pitted and with three laps to go, was able to hold off Kyle Busch for the stage two win.
In the final stage Kyle Busch would lead until the ill-timed caution sending him tumbling down the order. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would run inside the top five for the final stage and did so well as to bring home the No. 47 Frozen Farmer Chevrolet in second place, a huge day for JTG Daugherty Racing . He overtook Chastain for second place after Chastain had lost the lead to Elliott but was unable to get to Elliott, only closing the gap to 1.6 seconds within 30 to go after Elliott came upon lap traffic.
On the final lap, Ross Chastain find himself in trouble with Truex Jr., who he had been racing around for much of the race, when he came up to block him out of turn two. Truex Jr. made contact with Chastain’s rear before getting loose and spinning out, falling from fourth to 12th. On Chastain’s post-race interview with FOX’s Jamie Little, Chastain jokingly said “We were just talking about fishing there”.
Full finishing order: (1st) Chase Elliott, (2nd) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., (3rd) Ross Chastain, (4th) Christopher Bell, (5th) Alex Bowman, (6th) Kyle Larson, (7th) Kyle Busch, (8th) Chris Buescher, (9th) Kevin Harvick, (10th) Erik Jones, (11th) Justin Haley, (12th) Martin Truex Jr., (13th) Chase Briscoe, (14th) Daniel Suárez, (15th) Cole Custer, (16th) Bubba Wallace, (17th) Michael McDowell, (18th) Corey Lajoie, (19th) Aric Almirola, (20th) Brad Keselowski, (21st) Denny Hamlin, (22nd) William Byron, (23rd) Austin Dillon, (24th) Harrison Burton, (25th) Ryan Preece, (26th) Ryan Blaney, (27th) Ty Dillon, (28th) Todd Gilliland, (29th) Joey Logano, (30th) Tyler Reddick, (31st) Kurt Busch, (32nd) Josh Bilicki, (33rd) AJ Allmendinger, (34th) Cody Ware, (35th) BJ McLeod, (36th) Austin Cindric.
Top 10 in points standings: 1st Chase Elliott (418), 2nd Ryan Blaney (368), 3rd William Byron (353), 4th Kyle Busch (353), 5th Alex Bowman (349), 6th Ross Chastain (338), 7th Martin Truex Jr. (336), 8th Kyle Larson (335), 9th Joey Logano (316), 10th Christopher Bell (284).
Featured Image: (Right) Chase Elliott, the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet and (left) Ross Chastain, the No. 1 Pitbull Tour 2022 Chevrolet, dueling for the lead (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Watermelon farmer turned NASCAR Cup racer Ross Chastain smashed out his first career win at Circuit of the Americas in final lap brawl.
On the hottest day of the year just outside of Austin, Texas, the NASCAR race at COTA came down to an overtime finish between Ross Chastain, road-course ringer AJ Allmendinger and Hendrick’s Alex Bowman.
On the final restart, it was Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick who led the field to green with Ross Chastain right beside him in second, but Chastain used the chrome horn and power moved by Reddick in the S’s to retake the lead.
Reddick would fall back to sixth while Chastain would take the white flag and would lead the break away with AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman in tandem.
Allmendinger closed up to Chastain in the turn 12 heavy braking zone and would continue to fill his mirrors up in turns 13 and 14 before sticking his Camaro up the inside of Chastain in turn 15, consequently pushing Chastain wide after he tried to cover him off.
Chastain would get passed by Bowman too after he dived past him on the inside of 18 while Chastain returned the favour to Allmendinger going into the penultimate corner, using him as a braking block. Allmendinger’s car stepped out on him and flew into Bowman who was alongside him. Allmendinger ended up backwards in the sand while Bowman had to take evasive action to avoid him. Chastain went on to take the checkered flag.
The highly anticipated ritual-like smashing of the watermelon was performed by Chastain on the straightaway from on top of his ONX Homes/iFly Camaro. Chastain was so thrilled he ate the juicy fruit while being interviewed, saying to FOX, “it’s never tasted sweeter.”
It was also Trackhouse Racing’s first Cup win and was quite the birthday present for co-team owner Justin Marks.
Celebrations continued throughout the first half of the week with Chastain’s own Melon Man Brand, a grassroots lifestyle organisation uniting all watermelon lovers, putting up pre-orders for a most appropriate T-shirt on Tuesday to mark the iconic moment.
Back at the race shop on Tuesday, Team Trackhouse were all bought a celebratory breakfast. Watermelon may or may not have been present.
Back to Sunday’s race, other drivers had found to be fast throughout the race, most notably Team Trackhouse teammate Daniel Suárez, who after starting second would take the lead away from polesitter Ryan Blaney on the opening lap. Suárez would go onto win the first stage of the race. He had a not so fun experience on the restart however, finding himself spinning around while in a five-wide mess in turn one. Denny Hamlin, in desperate need of points, would sacrifice track position and stay out to win stage two.
Ford drivers Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric would also be at the front throughout much of the race but not when Cindric brought out the first non-scheduled caution of the day for spinning coming out of the turn 10 kink, with Christopher Bell narrowly avoiding him by a whisker. The race would go to overtime when Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and Joey Logano came together in the turn one sandpit.
Bowman, Bell, Elliott, and Reddick made up the top five finishing order.
Featured Image: Ross Chastain, celebrates after winning at COTA (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)