Phoenix was a mixed bag this year, as NASCAR's new short track and road course package didn't help out the Ruoff Portage 500 at Phoenix too much. However a couple late race cautions brought out by Harrison Burton's spin and a multi-car crash added much needed excitement to an otherwise dull race.
William Byron Takes Advantage Of Another Late Caution
William Byron has been ridiculously fast the last couple weeks, but in both cases needed to beat teammate Kyle Larson on an overtime finish. However we can't fault him for getting it done when it matters most - on the last lap. Kyle Larson can't be happy about being bested by his younger teammate for the second straight week, especially having the best car in the field at Phoenix.
Kevin Harvick Just Misses Out
Harvick just missed out on becoming only the 5th driver in NASCAR history to win 10 times at a single track. Unfortunately, Harrison Burtin's spin with just 12 laps to go set the stage for late-race chaos. Harvick's team made the call to take four tires and restarted back in 7th. He wasn't able to make up any ground before the final caution, and didn't make much of an impression on the leaders in overtime. Harvick was all smiles in his post race interview, but deep down you know he wanted to start off his retirement-tour strong. Luckily for Harvick, his side of the SHR garage looks faster than the did at this point in the last couple seasons, so there is still time for Kevin and Rodney to turn it on and make one last push for the pair's second title.
SHR Bounces Back
For the first time all season, Stewart-Haas Racing looked like a powerhouse team. Not only did Kevin Harvick lead a large portion of the final stage, but last Spring's Phoenix winner Chase Briscoe ran in the top 10 most of the day after back-to-back grueling races. He finished a respectable 7th place, just two spots behind Harvick. Ryan Preece also ran much better today - inside the top 20 pretty much all day. Preece took advantage of the late restarts to climb his way up to 12th - his best finish of the season, outside of his LA Clash performance.
Toyota Still Lacking Race-Winning Speed
Toyota has looked off all season. Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin have both had a lot of speed, Truex has showed some flashes, and Tyler Reddick just collected his first top-5 finish. However, there hasn't been a dominant Toyota in any race this season, or really one that has looked like they could win. You could make the same argument for Ford, but Harvick looked better today than any Toyota driver has looked all season. Christopher Bell has had a sneaky great start to the season, with two Top-5s and added a 6th place finish to his resume on Sunday afternoon.
Chevy Still In Control
Chevy wins their fourth straight race of the season, and now has 11 of the 20 top-5 finishes thus far in the season. More importantly, the top 4 or 5 championship favorites at this point are all Chevys. Alex Bowman is the only driver to score a top 5 in every race this season, and now assumes the points lead despite not showing quite the speed of teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson. Josh Berry in place of Chase Elliott put on a good performance at secured his first career top-10 at NASCAR's top level.