William Byron Earns First Road Course Win At Watkins Glen International

William Byron Earns First Road Course Win At Watkins Glen International

by August 20, 2023 0 comments

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron dominated the Go Bowling at The Glen on Sunday to earn his first win on a road course and his fifth victory of the season.

It took Byron more than six years to finally visit Victory Lane at a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series. Sunday’s victory is a career high for Byron, and he also tops all competitors for wins this season. Byron had been in a summer slump since his last win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July. Over the past five races, he has finished outside of the top-10, but now the team has momentum heading into the NASCAR Playoffs.

“It was awesome,” Byron said. “It was a great Valvoline Chevy. I was able do what I needed to do to build a little bit of a gap. Thanks to this whole team. It’s been a fun weekend. We’ve had a great car all weekend and just tried to execute a good race. Road courses haven’t been our strength as a group, but we’ve been working really hard at it. I’m really thankful for the whole group. I feel like this sets up well for the playoffs.”

On Sunday, Byron started on the outside pole in the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet, and on Lap 24, he took command of the race. He won the final two stages and led a race high of 66 laps. In the closing laps, he held off Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin to secure the victory by 2.632 seconds. Byron credits Sunday’s success to the time he spent on iRacing while simulating the weekend.

“I did a lot of laps this weekend on iRacing this week,” Byron said. “I got a new simulator at home, so thanks to those guys. Just thanks to everyone back home who supports me. It’s a great win. I don’t know what it means and all that. I don’t read into that, but I think it shows that when we are at our best we can perform like this.”

Hamlin had to settle for a runner-up finish, which marked his fourth top-two in the last five races. He started on the pole, but he quickly fell back to third, where he finished Stage 1. All race long he attempted to chase down Byron, but in the end, he just didn’t have the speed.

“I don’t want to make a mistake because most times I make mistakes and give up all my track position,” Hamlin said. “So, it’s a really tough balance between trying to be aggressive and stay on him versus just making sure I don’t make a mistake. It’s a tough spot to be in, but certainly I wanted to give it my all there and I felt like that was a run about what we were capable of.”

Christopher Bell finished third, followed by AJ Allmendinger and Ty Gibbs. Rounding out the top-10 was Truex, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

Brad Keselowski (15th) and Kevin Harvick (21st) clinched NASCAR Playoff spots with their finishes on Sunday. Only one Playoff spot remains with one race to go. Bubba Wallace currently holds the position with just a mere 32-point cushion over Gibbs.

Last weekend’s Indy winner, Michael McDowell won Stage 1, but he retired from the event due to electrical issues. He finished last in 36th.

“Just the highs and lows of motorsports coming off of last weekend,” McDowell said. “But, I’m still really proud of my guys. This Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang was really fast. Had that penalty early, and we were still able to drive back through the field.”

The only caution of the day came on Lap 57, when Chase Elliott ran out of fuel and stopped on the track. The unfortunate 32nd-place finish now forces Elliott to win at Daytona International Speedway next weekend to make the NASCAR Playoffs.

Truex leads Hamlin in the Regular Season standings by 39 points. The final race of the Regular Season will be held at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, August 26. Live coverage of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 will be broadcast on NBC at 7 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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