Despite being a week removed from Las Vegas, Ryan Newman and his Richard Childress Racing team were still gambling Sunday. Crew chief Luke Lambert left his driver out with an overtime finish looming and that driver was able to hold off Kyle Larson, who was on fresher tires, to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix.
“Trust me, I went into (Turn) 3 looking at my mirror,” Newman said. “I knew he was down there; but it took my car forever to get going.”
The second-place finish was the third in a row this season for Larson.
“Dang it, I wish I wouldn’t have gotten sideways there in (Turns) 1 and 2,” Larson said smiling. “I would have stayed close enough to Newman and I probably would have got him down in (Turns) 3 and 4 coming to the white. You never know though. That’s how the races play out. Maybe I made a mistake there. This one stings because I feel like I was in the best spot out of anybody there to line up fourth on two tires.”
Ironically it was a late race crash by Joey Logano that set up the overtime finish, and erased a three second lead for the dominate car in the second half of the race, Kyle Busch who led a race high 114 laps. At Vegas Busch and Logano tangled at the end of the race both on and off the track. Busch finished third Sunday at Phoenix.
“Everything’s great,” Busch said. “We got a top five and that’s what we set out to do today and we got a third so we should be pumped about that and how good this Skittles Camry ran today. It was awesome there at the end and the guys made some really good calls there at the end…Overall we should be proud of our run today and we will move on.”
Sunday, Logano led from the pole but faded, had a pit road speeding penalty, then blew a tire with five laps to go.
“The brakes are fine, we just blew a right front,” Logano said. “Probably just overheated the bead. I am sure that is what it was. There is not much you can do when the right front blows out.”
The top five, led by Busch pitted and all took two tires. But Newman, who had worked his way to seventh, stayed out along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr.
Newman jumped out to the lead on the final start, as behind Larson and Stenhouse came together, Kyle Busch was able to power past Stenhouse on the backstretch to grab third. On the final lap Newman was leading, Larson was second, Busch third. Larson tried one last time to get under Newman exiting turn 4 but fell short.
The win for Newman was the 18th of his career, his second at Phoenix, and first in 112 races dating back to Indy in 2013. It was also the first win for the Richard Childress Racing team since Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix in the fall of 2013.
“I’ve lost count; that’s how long it’s been,” Newman said. “What a gutsy call by (crew chief) Luke (Lambert). I called for two tires and he called for none. I’ve won more races no tires than I have with four. I’m just proud of these guys. We had a good car all day. We kept it out of trouble and collected in the end.”
Stenhouse was fourth, Brad Keselowski fifth. Harvick was sixth, Daniel Suarez seventh, with Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 10.
Chase Elliott who led 108 laps after taking the lead on lap 84 in a spectacular three wide battle with Logano and Larson, finished 12th.
Logano who led all but one of the first 82 laps finished 31st.
“We had a good car in the beginning of the race and then just fell off and got a pit road speeding penalty and it was hard to get back up there,” Logano said. “We were getting closer but out long run speed was off. We have to figure out how to get faster here on the long run.”
The final stop on the NASCAR Goes West tour will be at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California next Sunday with live coverage on Fox starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Late Sunday NASCAR announced that Keselowski‘s Ford failed the weights and measures after the race.
More details will come later this week.
Keselowski is second on the points after his fifth-place finish.