Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2017

Thanks to a late-race gamble, Ryan Newman picked up his first win since 2013 in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.

Newman opted to stay on the track when the leaders pitted during a caution with six laps to go, and the move paid dividends, as he kept the lead on the restart and held off Kyle Larson.

The 39-year-old veteran snapped a 127-race winless streak, while Larson finished second for the third consecutive race.

Here is a rundown of the rest of Sunday’s top-10 finishers:

Camping World 500 Top-10 Finishers
1 Ryan Newman 31
2 Kyle Larson 42
3 Kyle Busch 18
4 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17
5 Brad Keselowski 2
6 Kevin Harvick 4
7 Daniel Suarez 19
8 Erik Jones 77
9 Jimmie Johnson 48
10 Denny Hamlin 11
NASCAR.com

 

Despite falling agonizingly short of a win once again, the Camping World 500 was still a fruitful race for Larson, as he ascended to the top spot in the points standings.

NASCAR Cup Series Standings After Phoenix
1 Kyle Larson 184 Leader 0 0 0
2 Brad Keselowski 178 -6 1 0 5
3 Chase Elliott 171 -13 0 1 1
4 Martin Truex Jr. 153 -31 1 2 7
5 Joey Logano 135 -49 0 1 1
6 Ryan Blaney 127 -57 0 0 0
7 Kevin Harvick 123 -61 0 3 3
8 Jamie McMurray 119 -65 0 0 0
9 Kurt Busch 105 -79 1 0 5
10 Kasey Kahne 105 -79 0 0 0
11 Ryan Newman 101 -83 1 0 5
12 Trevor Bayne 100 -84 0 0 0
13 Kyle Busch 97 -87 0 1 1
14 Denny Hamlin 97 -87 0 0 0
15 Clint Bowyer 97 -87 0 0 0
16 Jimmie Johnson 93 -91 0 0 0
NASCAR.com

 

Starting from the pole, Joey Logano was dominant throughout the first stage of the race, as he essentially led from wire to wire for the opening 75 laps to capture a playoff point.

Kurt Busch ran inside the top 10 for a good portion of the first stage, but he got himself in trouble shortly thereafter, as a speeding penalty on pit road sent him to the back of the field, as seen in this video courtesy of Fox Sports: NASCAR:

That took one of Logano’s major challengers out of the equation, but it wasn’t long before the No. 22 car surrendered the lead.

Both Chase Elliott and Larson were in hot pursuit of Logano early in the second stage, and they both managed to overtake him, as evidenced by this video from Fox Sports:

Like Logano in the first stage, Elliott and Larson were the cars to beat in the second, and that became even more apparent when Logano was hit with a pit road speeding penalty of his own.

Per Jeff Gluck of JeffGluck.com, Logano had an inkling that he was about to get caught by NASCAR’s rules officials:

Later in the stage, Corey LaJoie hit the wall for the second time on the day, which brought out a caution flag and set up a sprint to the finish of the stage.

Elliott and Larson emerged from the pit stops in first and second place, and they had a great battle off the restart that resulted in Elliott maintaining the top spot:

The No. 24 car went on to increase its lead and win the stage, which marked the first time a Chevrolet had taken a stage all season long.

With 122 laps remaining, another big name ran into some trouble, as Matt Kenseth lost a tire and hit the wall, which resulted in the end of his day:

Kenseth’s crash allowed for some pit stops under yellow, which finally put a halt to Elliott’s dominance.

Kyle Busch’s pit crew came through with a huge stop that allowed the No. 18 car to exit just ahead of Elliott and assume the lead for the first time in the race:

Busch assumed firm control of the face after taking the lead and seemed certain to cruise to victory until a yellow flag came out with just six laps remaining.

Logano’s tire went down, resulting in him hitting the wall and bringing out the caution:

The leaders decided to pit and take two tires, but Busch’s pit crew was bested by that of Larson, who gained a spot and entered the final restart in fourth place, as Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. all opted to stay out on the track.

Newman and Richard Childress Racing had little to lose with such a long drought between wins, and the risky decision turned out to be a smart one, as Newman managed to hold off the drivers with fresh tires behind him:

The win was a big one for Newman, as it moved him into 11th place in the standings and virtually assured him a spot in the Chase.

Newman finished second in the championship standings three years ago despite not winning a single race that season, but he returned to Victory Lane Sunday and established himself as a potential title contender.

 

Post-Race Reaction

On the heels of his shocking victory, Newman credited crew chief Luke Lambert with the decision to skip the race’s final pit stop, according to Joe Menzer of FoxSports.com: “What a gutsy call by Luke. I called for two tires and he called for none. I’ve won more races on 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.”

While Newman was thrilled with the win, he admitted that the intense Arizona heat took a toll on him: “I’m spent, man. I had the chills on lap 150, which is a sign of your body overheating. I’m done.”

Newman would have never had an opportunity to win if not for Logano’s tire going down, and the driver of the No. 22 car explained what happened in the latter stages:

The brakes are fine, we just blew a right front. Probably just overheated the bead. I’m sure that is what it was. There’s not much you can do when the right front blows out. We had a good car in the beginning of the race and then just fell off and got a pit-road speeding penalty and it was hard to get back up there.

While Logano cost Kyle Busch a strong finish last week when he caused him to spin out on the final lap, he inadvertently cost him a win Sunday as well when his tire malfunctioned.



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