‘We had a shot’: Chastain, Reddick battle Briscoe at Phoenix for first career win

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Three drivers. Three laps. One goal.

Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick and Ross Chastain were each vying for their first career Cup Series win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, and all of them had a rather equal shot on Lap 309 of 312 as they held the front spots for the final restart.

“It’s like when someone cuts you off on the freeway,” Reddick said. “You’re mad, you want to honk at them. It’s very tempting to hit the horn, right?”

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PHOENIX: Race results | Chase Briscoe wins | At-track gallery

Before what would be the last green flag, Briscoe, as the leader, chose the inside lane. Reddick lined up alongside him on the outside. Chastain then fell in behind Briscoe, and Kevin Harvick – a nine-time Phoenix winner – was next door in fourth.

As soon as the field fired off, Briscoe dove down into the apron to maintain position, kind of like a legal shortcut. Reddick and Chastain followed but not as far. Harvick stayed higher.

“On that last restart, or two restarts, I felt like that was probably the worst-case scenario for me,” Briscoe said. “Ross and Tyler are probably two of the most aggressive guys on restarts and obviously were going for their first win, too. And then fourth, you have Kevin, who obviously it’s been a year, year and a half since he’s won, so you know he’s hungry, too. I just knew that as long as I drove in there deeper than everybody else, I felt like I was probably going to be OK.”

More than OK. Briscoe was able to pull ahead so much that he completed two more go-arounds with no issue and won the Ruoff Mortgage 500. He took the checkered flag with a 0.771-second margin of victory.

The battle for runner-up, though, was much tighter – and until the very end. Reddick and Chastain practically crossed the finish line side by side. Only 0.016 seconds separated Chastain in second and Reddick in third.

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“We were waving to each other when it got done,” Chastain said. “Like it’s so much fun to race with friends like that. I can’t call many of these guys friends, and I can call Reddick a friend. To get to race with him there at the end, a lot trust on each of our parts to come home clean.”

VIDEO: Ross Chastain reacts to final laps | Tyler Reddick reflects on finish

Said Reddick: “We’ve all had a lot of fun racing each other in the Xfinity Series and when our paths have crossed in our past. We’re all very, very aggressive. But none of us want to be the guy to put someone in the wall wrong or anything like that. Right up to that point, but we never like to cross it.”

Harvick faded to sixth, as polesitter Ryan Blaney snuck into fourth instead.

The victory gives Briscoe two top-five finishes in 40 career starts. Second matched Chastain’s personal best, and he now has five top fives in 119 races. Reddick stands at seven top fives in 78 attempts; he has three P2s already on his record.

Briscoe marks the Cup Series’ 200th all-time different victor. He is the second first-time winner in 2022. Chastain and Reddick’s next chance to join those lists is March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“Right on the restarts, he had the control,” Chastain said. “So, although we kept taking shots at him – or I did – I never had the full upper hand. But that’s fine. I don’t need the upper hand. I just need a shot, and we had a shot.”