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March 13, 2021

Larson, Byron among those to start at rear for Phoenix Cup race

Kyle Larson
Chris Graythen
Getty Images

The cars of Kyle Larson and William Byron are among three that will start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500 (3:30 p.m. on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after failing pre-race inspection two times Saturday night. Cody Ware’s No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet will also have to go to the back.

On Sunday afternoon, it was revealed that the most recent winner at Phoenix Raceway and the NASCAR Cup Series reigning champion Chase Elliott will also start from the rear of the field. Elliott, who won the fall race at the 1-mile track, was slated to start sixth but will drop to the rear for unapproved adjustments.

The No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet will also go to the rear for a driver change as Garrett Smithley will now be behind the wheel. Quin Houff and the No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet team will also drop to the rear for unapproved adjustments.

RELATED: Schedule for Phoenix | What to watch at Phoenix | Lineup for Sunday’s race

Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet are the series’ two most recent winners with victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, respectively, in the last two weekends. Larson was slated to start second, while Byron was going to roll off the grid 10th. Ware was set to start 31st, while Smithley was going to start 34th and Houff 35th.

While neither Larson nor Byron has a Cup win at Phoenix, both have had recent solid runs there. Larson has four straight top-six finishes there, and Byron was one of four drivers to nab top 10s in both races there last year.

The race at Phoenix is the series’ fifth points-paying event of the 2021 season. Brad Keselowski is on the pole for Sunday’s race. Joey Logano is the defending winner at the 1-mile track.