William Byron Advances To NASCAR Playoffs With First Cup Series Win At Daytonaby Camille Jones August 30, 2020 0 comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – William Byron claimed his first win and a spot in the NASCAR Playoffs on Saturday during the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Byron’s win came in NASCAR Overtime in the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season, and it secured him a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. It took Byron 98 races to capture his first series win. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet put his trust in the calls of veteran crew chief Chad Knaus, to put his car in the best position to race for the win.
“Oh, yeah,” said Byron. “I had confidence in Chad and the guys that we could get four tires and make the most of it. So, I’m just extremely blessed, and this is incredible. It’s been a hard couple of years in the Cup Series and trying to get my first win and gel with this team. These guys did an awesome job today and got us in the Playoffs and it’s amazing.”
Finishing in second, Chase Elliott held on to claim his 15th top-10 finish of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. This year’s Daytona 500 Champion, Denny Hamlin, finished in third. Martin Truex Jr. finished in fourth, followed by Bubba Wallace in fifth. Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brendan Gaughan, Chris Buescher, and Brad Keselowki rounded out the top-10.
Joey Logano earned the win in Stage 1 and Stage 2 before his race ended with only two laps to go in the race.
In a relatively quiet race at Daytona, the race saw six cautions for a total of 21 laps under yellow flag conditions in the extended 164-lap race.
With nine laps to go in the race, Tyler Reddick made a move to block up the track and take the lead from Kyle Busch, who was then sent hard into the outside wall. The chain reaction ultimately resulted in a major, 10-car crash taking out multiple drivers in the lead pack. The red flag was displated for 10 minutes and 13 seconds.
“Just a slide job gone bad,” Busch said. “Reddick threw it off into three and might have been clear, but wasn’t clear by much and started coming up the track and was losing momentum. I even had to check-up because I saw him coming and it wasn’t enough check-up and wrecked the field. I hate it for all my Interstate Batteries guys.”
With two laps to go, the leaders made contact, resulting in another pileup, this time involving Logano, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and eight more drivers. The final “Big One” ended the Playoff hopes of Johnson, the 7-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion in his final season as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver.
“First and foremost, congratulations to my teammate getting his first Cup win like that,” Johnson said. “This setting and the drama to go with it – that’s a big win for Chad Knaus and William Byron. I’m really happy for those guys. I really felt like we had a way to transfer, to win, or point our way in the way it went in the first two stages. Things just got ugly down in turn one. Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.”
Matt DiBenedetto snagged the final spot in the 2020 Playoffs by six points over Johnson.
“I promise you my wife, Taylor, is at home crying right now,” DiBenedetto said. “I can bet you anything. My parents are here in the stands. They drove all the way down from North Carolina. My brother in the military, him and his girlfriend were able to make it here, so this is really special to make it in the playoffs. My career has been one I had to fight, claw, scratch for everything and it makes me so appreciative. I say the little things, but this is a big one making the playoffs for the Wood Brothers. This is very big, really special and I’m glad we’ll be able to get to work and do the best we can the rest of the season and we have a lot of really good tracks and short tracks coming.”
Kevin Harvick secured the regular season NASCAR Cup Series Championship last weekend at Dover International Raceway, before it became official following Saturday night’s race.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway next weekend for the first race of the NASCAR Playoffs, where drivers will battle it over the next 10 races to earn a chance to race for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Live coverage of the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 6 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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