Ryan Newman gambled by staying out late with worn tires, riding a final restart with two laps remaining to the checkered flag in the Camping World 500 on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway to earn his first victory since 2013.
“Yeah, my spotter said ‘clear’ and I started turning down. I guess I just didn’t anticipate him driving in as far as he did. Maybe I should have just run the middle lane there just to be safe. But all in all, it was a good effort for our Credit One Bank Chevy. And dang it, I wish I wouldn’t have gotten sideways there in (Turns) 1 and 2; and 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,” commented Larson after the race.
Newman had not won in 127 races, and Richard Childress Racing had gone 112 races without a victory.
“I’ve lost count; that’s how long it’s been.,” replied Newman when asked how good it feels to back in victory lane. “I’ve got to thank Grainger, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Monster Energy for supporting our series, and Chevrolet. The list goes on and on. 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.”
The race was run in three stages, with cautions at Lap 75 and Lap 150. Joey Logano led 74 of the first 75 laps to win Stage 1; Chase Elliott led 64 of the next 75 laps to win Stage 2.
Busch grabbed the lead on Lap 196 after exiting pit road first on a pit stop following a caution for Matt Kenseth‘s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He led a race-high 114 laps.
Kenseth hit the outside SAFER barrier hard when his right front tire went down on Lap 191, and suffered extensive damage that forced him from the race; he had been running 15th at the time of the crash.
“We just blew a front tire. We kind of struggled with our Tide PODS Camry most of the day. We got a little bit better that run, but we weren’t handling the way we needed to for sure and just ended up failing a front tire,” explained Kenseth.
Pole-winner Logano yielded the lead on Lap 84, and then suffered a blown tire on Lap 307 to set up the final restart of the race.
Defending race winner Kevin Harvick started 23rd and finished sixth. “We just didn’t ever get it exactly how we wanted all weekend. Luckily it is a good race track for us and we were able to battle and use all the tricks of the trade we know to get ourselves up in contention. We definitely need to do some work on this style race track with our Jimmy John’s Ford but it was a heck of a battle all day.”
The scheduled 312-lap, 312-mile race went 314 laps and featured eight cautions and eight different leaders. Scorching temperatures recorded at 96 degrees when the green flag dropped affected tire wear and driver comfort as several requested ice and extra water during pit stops.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next heads to Auto Club Speedway on March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the final race in the NASCAR Goes West swing.
-NASCAR Wire Services