William Byron Wins Goodyear 400 At Darlington, Earns No. 24 Team’s 100th Victoryby Hunter Thomas May 14, 2023 1 comment
DARLINGTON, S.C. – William Byron earned win 100 for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 team after winning the Goodyear 400 in NASCAR Overtime at Darlington Raceway.
The last time that a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet visited Victory Lane at Darlington was back in 2012, when Jimmie Johnson earned the organization’s 200th win. At 25-years-old, Byron is the youngest addition to Hendrick Motorsports and last season, he came one lap short of winning the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington after he was punted out of the way by race-winner, Joey Logano. Fast forward to this weekend, and Byron and his team were fast right out of the gate.
“To look back at William and see how he’s matured over the years and how good he is now, it’s pretty amazing that the lack of laps he’s got, to be in the position that he’s in,” said Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick. “But he’s smart. He works hard. He’s in the simulator all the time. He puts a lot of effort into the program.”
Byron started the Goodyear 400 in the fourth position, and he stayed up front all race long. He finished second in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2. Sunday’s Goodyear 400 looked as if the closing laps were going to go caution free, but with 16 laps to go, Ryan Newman spun in Turn 4, and the accident changed the entire plot to the race.
On the restart, Martin Truex Jr. slid up into Joey Logano while battling for third in Turn 1, igniting a huge eight-car crash. The field lined back up, and this time, it was leaders Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson crashing in front of the field. In NASCAR Overtime, Byron overtook Kevin Harvick who restarted on the front row with him and went on to win his third victory of the season.
“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing,” Byron said. “My granddad passed away on Thursday, and just man, I wish my family could be here. Just things have a way of working out, honestly. It just worked out that way today. We didn’t have the best third stage. We just kept battling, and things just kind of come back around. Want to wish happy Mother’s Day to my mom. My sister just graduated school, so big day. Definitely didn’t expect this. But just thankful for a great team, and yeah, just things have a way of working out, and come back here to Darlington and have it go exactly the other way.”
Darlington Raceway celebrated NASCAR’s 75th season this weekend and did so in a huge way by incorporating special aspects into its Throwback Weekend campaign. On Sunday, Byron piloted a throwback scheme that honored Jeff Gordon’s famous 1998 Chromalusion All-Star Race car.
“Well, obviously a great day for the 24 car,” said Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman. “I think back to last year here at Darlington, a little bit of redemption, too, for William Byron and that team. Real special. This weekend is special with all the throwback, especially that 24 throwback meant a lot to me, a lot of memories from the 50th anniversary year – was that ’98, I believe – and that car and that paint scheme. Certainly was great to see it on track, but to see William perform and the whole team perform the way they did today, too, they had to fight back.”
Kevin Harvick finished second, but he was involved in the eight-car pile-up towards the end of the race. His No. 4 SunnyD Ford wasn’t the fastest of the day, but he methodically made his way into the top-10 and eventually to the front of the field. Harvick has now finished inside of the top-five in eight of the last 10 races at Darlington.
“The Fords struggle in traffic with this particular aero package and it’s hard to make up ground, and then we lost a bunch of ground on pit road under the green flag pit stop,” Harvick said. “Then we got toward the end and missed all the wrecks. Well, we came out the other side of the wrecks. We were in the wrecks, but just didn’t have any damage to the wheels and tires, just structural damage. William ended up being the only car that didn’t have damage and he just drove off, so still a good day for our Sunny Delight Ford Mustang and we’ll just keep plugging away.”
Chase Elliott was also included in the big crash, but he salvaged a third-place finish. The effort marked only his second top-3 finish of the season, and his first since returning from his snowboarding accident.
“Really proud of our No. 9 LLumar Chevy team’s effort to keep us in the fight,” Elliott said. “Pit stops were unreal, and obviously got really lucky there at the end with those guys crashing, and then the caution coming out quick for myself and guys like Brad (Keselowski) to keep our spots like that. I’ll certainly take third, and appreciate all the effort this weekend. We’re making some small gains here and there, just got to get some more.”
Rounding out the top-five was Brad Keselowski and Bubba Wallace. Harrison Burton finished sixth, followed by Kyle Busch, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher.
Truex won Stage 1, and Chastain won Stage 2.
There were 19 lead changes among eight drivers. Truex led a race high of 145 laps.
Throughout the Goodyear 400, the caution flew on eight occasions for 47 laps.
Chastain currently leads Christopher Bell in the point standings by 27 points.
The NASCAR Cup Series will return to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time since 1996 for the NASCAR All-Star Race on Sunday, May 21. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com