Newman Scores Surprise Win at Phoenix
Opting to not come to pit road following a late-race caution, Ryan Newman was able to score a fortuitous win in today's Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The victory snapped a 127-race winless streak for the driver of the No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet who lasted visit victory lane in the 2013 Brickyard 400. It was also the first victory for Richard Childress Racing since Kevin Harvick won the 2013 fall race at Phoenix.
Kyle Larson came home second in the No. 42 Credit Bank Chevrolet. Kyle Busch, who led 114 laps and seemed a sure bet for victory before a blown tire for Joey Logano brought out a caution with 8 laps remaining was third. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also didn't pit following the late caution came home fourth, with Brad Keselowski fifth.
The early part of the race was dominated by pole sitter Joey Logano, who took the early lead and captured the opening Stage. However, following the restart at the beginning of Stage 2, Chase Elliott charged past Logano with an outside pass into Turn 1. The driver of the No. 24 Napa Chevrolet would go on to win Stage 2.
Shortly thereafter, Kyle Busch was able to move past Elliott in the pits. From there the No. 18 Skittles Toyota seemed to be in control of the proceedings. However, on a day in which a number of drivers suffered tire failures, the Goodyear on the right front of the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford would send Logano into the Turn 1 tire barrier with 8 laps remaining.
“I’ve lost count; that’s how long it’s been. I’ve got to thank Grainger, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Monster Energy, for supporting our series, and Chevrolet," said Newman.
"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.”
“Everything’s great, 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," said Busch.
"It was awesome there at the end and the guys made some really good calls there at the end – Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a good job being able to make some good adjustments and make it feel better once we got out front.
"Thanks to my pit crew – the car really liked clean air. We just got caught up in traffic a little bit early in the race, but we were mindful of that and just kind of bided our time and got up to the front when we did, but we had a little miscue there on pit road with Kurt (Busch) and from there it was just too many cars that stayed out. If it was just two that stayed out maybe, but we really needed the outside like (Kyle) Larson had. Overall we should be proud of our run today and we will move on.”
“The guys gave me a great Skittles Camry today, that thing was fantastic there on the long runs and was really, really good and it had good speed to it, especially when we got out front. We kind of struggled a little bit in traffic, but the car liked the clean air and we were sitting pretty, but that’s racing.”
“My guys gave me an awesome Skittles Camry and there’s nothing else I could ask for from them. We were in the right position and we were in a great spot to win the race today, but unfortunately just didn’t happen for us and that’s racing.”
“We had a good car and that’s what it takes. When you have a good car you can run up front like that and we kind of missed it a little bit at Atlanta and we rebounded and tried to rebound a little bit at Vegas and had a shot for a top five there, but we weren’t able to capitalize on that, but we were today thankfully. It seems like every finish that’s destined for us it seems to end in a worse finish that day.”
With the advantageous outside line on the ensuing restart, Newman was able to hold the lead for the final two laps to score his 18th career NASCAR Monster Energy Series Cup victory.
After qualifying a disappointing 23rd, 8-time Phoenix winner Harvick came home sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Daniel Suarez earned a career best finish, placing seventh.
Fellow rookie Erik Jones validated an impressive day running consistently in the top-10 finishing eighth. Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson was ninth, while Denny Hamlin ended an up-and-down day coming home tenth.
The final leg of the three-race NASCAR Goes West stretch will be next Sunday's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Johnson, the 2016 winner, will look to score his sixth win at ACS.
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