It is starting to look a whole lot like last week as William Byron and Kyle Larson ran away from the NASCAR field to start this race. Stage 1 went to Bryon. With how fast Larson has been this weekend, it is amazing that Byron put so much distance on him.
Since Las Vegas, William Byron has been the only driver to win a stage. He swept last week, including the win and has picked up right where he left off. There are cars further back in the field putting down solid laps, but it’s the Hendrick Motorsports show once again.
Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell are fighting to keep Toyota in this. However, Byron and Larson are far and away the best cars on the track to start this race in Phoenix.
This is looking like it might be a repeat of Las Vegas. The track is hot, so tires are taking a beating. Still, this might just end up being William Byron’s race to lose.
Things are going to change in Stage 2 due to the difference in laps. While William Byron seemed to have the fastest car in the long run, clean air made all the difference for Larson as he tried to battle against his teammate.
William Byron Beat Off Pit Road
As the cars came to pit road for the stage caution, Kyle Larson knew he had an advantage. As the pole sitter, he got the best pit box, right at the front. As the cars peeled off of pit road, it was Larson and not William Byron that was in the lead.
Early on in the second stage, it does seem that Larson and Byron aren’t as fast as they were, to begin with. Cars are actually going to have a considerable falloff today on lap times. We’ve seen drivers make moves to get to the front and it’s produced for good racing early on.
Even with the dominance in Stage 1, William Byron has work to do. You can’t run as fast if your air isn’t as clean. This battle between teammates is going to let other drivers into this one. Don’t sleep on Kevin Harvick, by the way. He’s coming around that one-mile track fast as hell.