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NASCAR: Byron makes it two in a row, high schooler Smith notches first XFS win

(Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service/ Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick hate late-race cautions. William Byron loves them.

After a two-tire call under the fourth caution flag in Sunday‘s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Byron surged past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson in overtime to win his second straight NASCAR Cup Series race.

Byron can thank Ford drivers Aric Almirola and Harrison Burton, who on successive weekends spun with a handful of laps left — at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix, respectively — and gave Byron a chance to capitalize on the opportunity.

As a result, Byron scored his second victory of the season and a guaranteed ticket into the Cup Series Playoffs. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet won for the first time at Phoenix and for the sixth time in his career.

Harvick had a commanding lead when Burton spun at the start/finish line on Lap 302 of 312. Harvick took four new tires on the ensuing pit stop but came out seventh behind Larson, Byron, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin — all of whom opted for two tires.

Larson took the lead on a Lap 310 restart, but an accident on the backstretch involving Noah Gragson, Ty Gibbs and AJ Allmendinger forced overtime, and Byron grabbed the lead after the restart on Lap 316. Blaney and Tyler Reddick, who had taken four tires, also got past Larson during the two-lap overtime to finish second and third, with Larson holding fourth. Harvick came home fifth after leading 36 laps.

Christopher Bell ran sixth, and defending race winner Chase Briscoe finished seventh after a slow start. Kyle Busch was eighth, and Hendrick drivers Alex Bowman and Josh Berry (subbing for injured Chase Elliott) were ninth and 10th. Bowman has finished in the top 10 in each of the season’s first four races.

Chevrolet drivers have won all four Cup races this season.

For a complete recap of Sunday’s action, the final finishing order and updated standings, follow this link to

(Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service/ High-school senior Sammy Smith made the most of the fastest car in Saturday‘s United Rentals 200, becoming the youngest NASCAR Xfinity Series winner at Phoenix Raceway at age 18.

In a race that featured 11 cautions for 69 laps, Smith held off teammate Ryan Truex after a restart with 15 of 200 laps left to give Joe Gibbs Racing its 16th victory at the 1-mile track.

Smith led a race-high 92 laps, including the last 52, taking the lead from all-time series wins leader Kyle Busch on Lap 149. To secure his first victory in the series in his 13th start, Smith had to survive restarts on Laps 157, 177 and 186.

Sheldon Creed ran a miraculous third after spinning and losing track position on Lap 148 to cause the ninth caution. Creed got help from Kaulig Racing teammates Busch and Chandler Smith, who tangled on the last lap while racing for fourth. Smith got the better of the exchange, finishing fifth to Busch‘s ninth.

Riley Herbst ran fourth. John Hunter Nemechek recovered from a restart penalty — dipping below the yellow line on the apron before the start/finish line — to come home sixth.

Austin Hill was seventh, followed by Berry, Busch and Daniel Hemric. Mayer finished 11th and pole winner Cole Custer 12th.

For more on Saturday’s race, follow this link to MRN’s website.

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