William Byron Overcomes Adversity In Rain-Shortened Race To Win At Atlanta

William Byron Overcomes Adversity In Rain-Shortened Race To Win At Atlanta

by July 10, 2023 1 comment

HAMPTON, Ga. – To say William Byron had an eventful day at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday would be an understatement. He overcame a pit road penalty and a spin to win the Quaker State 400 available at Walmart.

As the laps ticked away at Atlanta Motor Speedway, rain and thunderstorms continued to move closer. With the threat of weather, the tension on the track rose. With just 81 laps to go, Ryan Preece was tagged by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and turned into Bubba Wallace. The accident brought out the seventh and final caution. During the caution, rain began to fall, and the race was called with Byron out in front of the field.

“I’ve never had a rain victory like this,” Byron said. Thank you to Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta, Chevrolet. It’s cool – we went through so much throughout the night; spinning through the infield. Destroyed the bottom of the car dragging it around the apron trying to stay on the lead lap. At that point, you just don’t have the grip, so I was real edgy back in traffic. But Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) made a good call to pit there and then stay out. Once we got towards the front, it was OK. We could honestly make the right decisions. Got the lead from AJ (Allmendinger) and just was able to manage the run. Just a crazy night.”

Byron however, didn’t just win because of a rain delay. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet finished Stage 1 in fifth and then overcame a pit road penalty for a safety violation and a spin along the frontstretch in Stage 2 to finish out the race as the winner. The win marks Bryon’s fourth victory of season, which is more than any driver so far this year.

“I feel like the first stage was really fun. I was able to make some moves on the bottom,” Byron said. “You’d lift in every corner, so it’s different than a 550 old-style race – it’s more packed up, but handling still matters and guys can make aggressive moves. I was certainly edgy back in traffic, but like I said, Rudy made a good call and we got up towards the front. Sometimes that’s what it takes. Just thankful for the whole team and just staying in it. We were a lap down and it could have been over.”

Trackhouse Racing continues to be extremely strong at the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway. This time around, it was Daniel Suarez finishing in the second position in the No. 99 Quaker State Chevrolet. Suarez started the race deep in the pack in 26th, but at the end of the night, he was in position to capture his second top-five of the season. Suarez is now just three points ahead of the NASCAR Playoffs cutline after Ty Gibss and Bubba Wallace had issues.

“I feel like I have mixed feelings, but overall, very proud of my No. 99 Quaker State Chevy team,” Suarez said. “It’s been a little bit rough lately because we’ve had the speed, but we haven’t had the results, so this feels good.”

AJ Allmendinger who 13 points out of the NASCAR Playoffs had a solid third-place run on Sunday.

“We didn’t have enough speed to lead, but it was a lot of fun to drive,” Allmendinger said. I’m proud walking away from this one. We had a good points day, top-five finish, our best finish of year. We rebounded after the disappointment last week and we moved on to the next one.”

Michael McDowell finished fourth, earning his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. Kyle Busch finished fifth. Rounding out the top-10 was Brad Keselowski, JJ Yeley, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Stenhouse Jr.

Blaney won Stage 1 and Keselowski won Stage 2. Polesitter, Aric Almirola led a race high of 46 laps, followed by Chris Buescher who was out in front of the field for 39 laps.

There were seven cautions for 43 laps throughout the shortened, 185-lap race.

On Lap 93, the caution came out for Kyle Larson who spun exiting Turn 4. Chase Briscoe and Austin Hill also spun while trying to avoid Larson’s spinning car. The Hendrick Motorsports driver had an awful day. He ended the day in 36th.

“I spun and got the flat,” Larson said. “And then I thought we were going to get lucky enough to just be able to drive right to my pit stall and change the tire. We changed the right-rear and didn’t get the right-front changed. And then that exploded on the apron and I had to lose a lap for the damage. Just had a little bit of a tire rub still and ultimately it just ended up giving out and I got into the wall.”

Corey LaJoie spun out of the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 124 after contact with Erik Jones. LaJoie spun up the track and collected Tyler Reddick, Gibbs, Ross Chastain, Martin Truex Jr. and others.

Alex Bowman lost control and caught Denny Hamlin on Lap 156. The two drivers slid down the frontstretch. Hamlin finished 14th, and Bowman finished 26th.

Byron continues to lead the point standings by 21 points over Truex.

The NASCAR Cup Series will visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Crayon 301 on Sunday, July 16. Live coverage will broadcast on USA at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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