AVONDALE, Ariz. – For the second straight weekend, William Byron grabbed the victory on the West Coast as Hendrick Motorsports placed all of its drivers in the top 10 at Phoenix Raceway.
And for the second straight race, a key pit call from crew chief Rudy Fugle set his driver up to get the win. Ahead of the second-to-last restart on lap 310, the No. 24 team took two right-side tires and that positioned Byron to restart on the front row - he came to pit road from fourth.
Another caution quickly followed that restart and all the leaders stayed out. The overtime restart saw close-quarters racing between Byron and teammate Kyle Larson for the win. Byron was able to get ahead of Larson on the outside and then held off Ryan Blaney to take the checkered flag.
"I owe the last couple of weeks to him," Byron said of Fugle's race-winning calls the past two weekends. "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.
"Thanks to everybody back at Hendrick Motorsports putting together great cars and just doing a great job. It's a big credit to them, the engine shop, Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and everybody. It's cool to have Valvoline back on the car with a really historic-looking paint scheme, so it's nice to get into Victory Lane."
PHOTOS: See the scenes from Byron's second straight win in 2023
The 25-year-old driver of the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 led 64 laps on the day and won stage one of the race for this third stage victory of the season through four races. The win marks Byron’s sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series, his second of the 2023 season, his first at Phoenix and the first time that he has won in back-to-back weeks in the sport’s top series. Byron led Hendrick Motorsports’ top-three sweep at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last Sunday.
"It's great," Byron said of the No. 24 team's momentum leaving the West Coast. "This team has been working really hard. We didn't want to stop last week, and we just wanted to keep it going."
RELATED: All of William Byron's wins at Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson led a race-high 201 laps and finished in fourth. He won stage two for his first stage win of the season. Despite losing the lead to Kevin Harvick on lap 269, the driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was able to get the lead out of the pits for the lap 310 restart thanks to a two-tire call. He maintained the lead for the overtime restart on lap 316 but couldn’t keep Byron from the control position coming to the white flag.
"The team made a great call to take two tires and get us out in the lead," Larson said. "Restarts are just tough. I felt like I ran William up pretty high and expected him to lose some grip, but he did a really good job of holding it to my outside and clearing me down the back.
"A great fight by the team, a great car and way better than we were here last year. It's a long season, but hopefully we're in the final four when we come back here in November. Hope we can have a run similar to that with speed and try to execute a little bit better in the end."
Alex Bowman grinded out a ninth-place finish in the No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. That finish extends his top-10 streak to four races to open the season and he is now the only driver to earn a top-10 in each of the four races in 2023. With the finish, the 29-year-old now holds the points lead for the first time in his Cup Series career.
"It’s been since 2016 since we’ve finished in the top-10 here, so happy for that," Bowman said of his second career top-10 result at the Tucson, Arizona, native's home track. "Proud of my No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevy team. A good points day."
MORE: Go behind-the-scenes with the pit crews of Hendrick Motorsports
In his second start with the No. 9 team, Josh Berry drove the Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish. This is his best finish in four Cup Series starts. Berry will be behind the wheel for next weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway as well as upcoming ovals. Jordan Taylor will drive the car at Circuit of The Americas on March 26. Elliott is expected to be out for approximately five more weeks while he recovers from a fractured tibia.
"We were able to improve a lot from what we had last week," Berry said. "We were able to stay on the lead lap basically the whole race. We had a couple of runs in there that were really good. A couple runs where we fell back a little bit, but it’s just all part of a learning experience for me."
With the win, Hendrick Motorsports now has 36th multi-win seasons and 30 multi-win seasons in a row. The organization has 13 victories at Phoenix and two wins in the 2023 season. Over the team’s last two races this year, they have led 506 of a possible 588 laps or 86.1%.
RELATED: See every Hendrick Motorsports win at Phoenix
The four-car fleet will be back in action for the fifth race of the season on Sunday, March 19, at 3 p.m. ET at Atlanta. Coverage will be on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
William Byron, No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: First
Race notes: Byron started the race from third position and moved to second on lap 1 as he rode the inside lane behind pole sitter and teammate Kyle Larson. On the next lap, he took the lead by using the dogleg portion of the track to get in front of Larson. He radioed to the team on lap 15 that "he doesn’t have much to complain about." From there, he led the rest of the 60-lap stage to score his third stage victory of the season.
During the stage break, Byron pitted for four tires and fuel. Despite a fast stop, Larson got the lead off of pit road thanks to his advantageous pit stall at the end of pit road. The 25-year-old restarted second and pretty much never left that position during the stage. Crew chief Rudy Fugle told Byron to stay patient and advised him on what lanes were working for others. Two pit stops during the stage saw Byron remain behind Larson for the lead. He battled a tight car over the final stretch of the stage and had to hold off Kevin Harvick to finish second.
SHOP: Get the William Byron Noggin Boss hat now!
Under yellow for the stage break, Byron pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a chassis adjustment. He and Harvick nearly made contact coming off pit road and the driver of the No. 24 would restart third for the final stage. During the first run of the final stage, Byron searched around for a different line as the car was a bit loose. Christopher Bell took third from him on lap 239 and Byron radioed in that he was “losing time.” When the caution came out on lap 303, the winner of last weekend’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway race remained in fourth. Fugle called for two right-side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. That pit stop got Byron to second off pit road and he chose the outside lane on the front row for the lap 310 restart. A caution came out a lap later, and he was still in second. Staying out under the yellow, Byron again chose the outside lane on the front row. Coming off the dogleg on the overtime restart, Byron and Larson were side-by-side by the lead. Byron was able to work his way to the lead on the white flag. He held off Ryan Blaney to score his second straight win in the 2023 season.
Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Fourth
Race notes: Larson started from the pole position but saw teammate William Byron take the lead away on lap 2. The driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy would remain in second for the rest of the 60-lap stage. At the midpoint of the segment, crew chief Cliff Daniels told his driver that he had a “really good rhythm right now.” At the end of the stage, Larson commented that “I feel like I’m pretty good. William is just really good.”
Pitting during the stage break, a fast 10.21-second stop by the No. 5 crew put Larson out in front for the start of stage two. He would not look back in that stage. Byron got close at different points, but the 30-year-old was able to scoot away and build on his lead. At one point in the stage, the team let Larson know that Christopher Bell was making good time in the corners. Larson led all but two circuits once the stage went green on lap 69 for his first stage win of the season.
During the stage break, Larson was able to hold the lead off of pit road, narrowly beating Kevin Harvick after pit stops. In the initial run of the final stage, the 2021 champion was able to build up to a nearly three-second lead before Harvick started chipping away at it prior to green-flag pit stops. Daniels advised Larson that most of the field was moving around behind him and using up tires. He told his driver to find whatever line is most neutral for tires and use that one. Pitting from the lead on lap 246, Larson took four tires and fuel. Harvick, who had pitted a lap before, was right on the No. 5 Chevy as it exited the pits. Larson was able to retake the lead from Erik Jones on lap 261 but saw Harvick pass him on the inside on lap 269. Daniels asked why Larson “ran high in three and four” as that helped Harvick get position on the inside of him. Following that, Larson was told to run the bottom in turns three and four. Unable to reel in Harvick, a caution on lap 303 brought the field back together. Pitting under yellow, the No. 5 team took two right-side tires and fuel and grabbed the lead off of pit road. Restarting first on lap 310, Larson shut the door on a charging Ryan Blaney and held Byron at bay before a caution came out on the next lap. Lined up first on the overtime restart, Larson took the inside and was battling Byron for the lead coming into turn three. Ultimately, his teammate took the point position and he saw Blaney and Tyler Reddick got by before the checkered flag flew.
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: Ninth
Race notes: Bowman started 18th and gained three spots at the start. However, he fell back to 18th a few laps later. He reported that the car was a little free on exit during the 60-lap stage. Over the course of the run, he was able to pick up a few spots to finish the stage in 14th.
During the stage break, the No. 48 team went to work as Bowman pitted for four tires, fuel, an air pressure and wedge adjustment. Restarting the stage in 14th, a strong restart saw him gain two spots right away. Crew chief Blake Harris encouraged his driver over the radio and asked him to let the team know what lines were working. Prior to a green-flag stop on lap 119, Bowman reported that car is too tight on takeoff and snaps loose on exit. Bowman spent the rest of the stage in the 10th-to-12th range of the running order. After reaching the top 10 on lap 148, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Best Friends Chevy made a great save with 15 to go in the stage when he got loose in turn two. He was able to gather the car up and finish the stage in 12th.
In between stages, Bowman told the team he was a little snug in the center but didn’t feel like he had good lateral or forward drive. Restarting 12th for the final stage, Bowman rejoined the top 10 with a pass on Ross Chastain on lap 200. Spotter Kevin Hamlin told his driver that “it’s going to be a scrap all day. You’re doing good.” While maintaining a top-10 position, Bowman reported the car was just a little free into the corner. Following a round of pit stops, he cycled out in 11th and remained there until the lap 303 caution. Harris called for four tires and fuel under yellow and Bowman restarted in 12th on lap 310. On the one lap before the next caution, he gained three spots to move to ninth. That position is where he would finish following the conclusion of overtime. The top-10 result is his fourth straight to open the season – the only driver to accomplish that in the first four races.
Josh Berry, No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Where he finished: 10th
Race notes: Berry started the Phoenix race from 17th. After losing a few spots off the start, veteran spotter Eddie D’Hondt encouraged his driver to hang in. The No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevy had good long-run speed and Berry was able to pick up a few spots in the latter half of the stage, including passing reigning champion Joey Logano on lap 47 for a spot in the top 20. Prior to the end of the stage, Berry told the team he needed security in and off the corner. He finished the stage in 18th.
Under the stage break, a fast stop by the No. 9 pit crew helped Berry restart 17th. He got moved out of line by Aric Almirola and that allowed Almirola and Ryan Preece to pass him for position. Berry reported that car felt “a little free this run.” Crew chief Alan Gustafson provided his driver with feedback for how to get through turns three and four better. As Berry worked himself into the top 15 on lap 147, D’Hondt told the driver that he was showing “good discipline.” Berry finished stage two in 15th.
During the caution before the final stage, Berry told Gustafson he needed to “turn better in dirty air.” He restarted the final stage in 15th and ran in that position for much of the run. Following a pit stop on lap 240, Berry said the car felt better. As the laps continued to click off, D’Hondt told the driver "really good work right here. Don’t change anything.” At the lap 303 caution, Berry was scored in 16th. A pit stop for four tires and fuel put him 15th for the lap 310 restart. After grabbing two spots prior to the caution, he restarted 13th in overtime. With a strong closing two-lap run, Berry gained three spots to finish 10th for his first top-10 finish in the NASCAR Cup Series.