Ryan Newman took the lead by staying out under caution and won at Phoenix Raceway, ending a three-year winless drought for Richard Childress Racing.
It was the first victory in Cup for RCR since Kevin Harvick at Phoenix in November 2013, a stretch of 112 races. Newman, who joined RCR in 2014, snapped a 127-race winless skid dating to July 2013 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Stewart-Haas Racing.
Newman credited the victory to crew chief Luke Lambert, who elected to keep the No. 31 Chevrolet on track instead of pitting for two tires as the driver had requested.
“What a gutsy call by Luke,” Newman told Fox Sports after his 18th victory in NASCAR’s premier series. “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.”
A brutally hot day in the Valley of the Sun affected Newman, who slumped over while being administered bags of ice in victory lane.
“I’m spent, man,” he said. “I had the chills on Lap 150. I’m done.”
Kyle Busch took the lead on a pit stop under yellow with 118 laps to go and seemed in command in search of his first victory of the season after being in the spotlight this past week because of a postrace altercation with Joey Logano. Busch wasn’t punished despite taking a swing after a last-lap crash with Logano at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Logano played a role in having a late-race impact again on Busch when his No. 22 Ford blew a right-front tire with six laps remaining, causing a caution that sent the race into overtime. Busch entered the pits with the lead but left in fifth behind three cars that stayed on the track: Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson beat Busch out of the pits to start fourth on the restart. Larson finished second, his third consecutive runner-up finish and fourth in the past five races dating to last season’s finale.
Busch, who leap-frogged Chase Elliott into the lead during a caution for a wicked hit by Matt Kenseth (who emerged unscathed), staved off the field on two restarts before losing the lead. He was trying to end a 19-race winless streak dating to last July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Busch finished third, followed by Stenhouse and Brad Keselowski.
First-time stage winners claimed the first two 75-lap segments of the race.
Logano started from the pole and led 82 of the first 84 laps to capture the first stage. But his No. 22 Ford dropped to 32nd on Lap 122 after a speeding penalty under yellow.
Elliott won the second stage after taking the lead on a three-wide move.