William Byron Wins Daytona 500 40 Years To The Day Of Hendrick Motorsports’ First Start

William Byron Wins Daytona 500 40 Years To The Day Of Hendrick Motorsports’ First Start

by February 19, 2024 1 comment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – William Byron won the 66th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Monday, 40 years to the day of Hendrick Motorsports fielding its first car in NASCAR’s top series.

The win marks the first for Byron in the prestigious event, and it came in his seventh attempt. Byron secured the victory by leading the race as Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric spun across the line as the field took the white flag. The caution immediately came out, and Byron was just ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Alex Bowman.

“Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities, and we just want to keep it going,” Byron said. “We have a lot to prove this year, and this is a good start, obviously. Daytona 500, it’s freaking awesome. Let’s go.”

Byron doesn’t have the best track record at Daytona. In fact, of his 13 starts at the track, he has crashed out of seven events, but on Monday, Byron was a contender all race long. He finished Stage 1 in fifth, and Stage 2 in sixth. With just seven laps to go, Byron was involved in a chain reaction that sent 22 drivers crashing in Turn 3. A bump from Bowman sent Byron, who was running fourth, into Brad Keselowski and all chaos ensued.

“Obviously hate what happened on that backstretch,” Byron said. “I just got pushed and got sideways.”

He continued and said, “I don’t know, just really good strategy. We obviously laid back and tried to save fuel for most of the race, and we would get up there at the end of the stages and make some moves, and I see boss man (Rick Hendrick) coming up here, but yeah, just thankful for great power under the hood, all of our partners, Chevrolet, everybody that allows us to do this.”

Forty years ago, to the day, Geoffrey Bodine piloted Rick Hendrick’s first-ever car in NASCAR’s top series. Bodine finished eighth as Timmonsville, South Carolina’s Cale Yarborough went on to win. For Byron to win the Daytona 500 on this day is such a storybook moment for the organization. The ninth Daytona 500 victory for Hendrick Motorsports now ties Petty Enterprises as the winningest team in NASCAR’s crown jewel event.

“I’m telling you; you couldn’t write the script any better, 24-24,” Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick said. “When we thought about coming down here the first time, we didn’t think we should be here, felt so out of place. We win this on our 40th to the day, it’s just — and tied a record now, so that’s awesome.”

Bowman finished second, while Christopher Bell, Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace rounded out the top-five. AJ Allmendinger finished sixth, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Erik Jones, Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe.

Chase Elliott won Stage 1, and Ryan Blaney won Stage 2.

There were 41 lead changes among 20 drivers. Logano who was caught up in the late 22-car crash led a race high of 45 laps.

The caution flag flew on five occasions for 20 laps. Aside from the two accidents in the closing laps, the only other crash of the race occurred on Lap 6, when Nemechek sent Harrison Burton spinning through the frontstretch grass. Burton slid back up the track and was hammered by Kaz Grala and Austin Dillon. Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson and others were also involved.

The NASCAR Cup Series will go superspeedway racing again this upcoming weekend as the series will visit Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, February 25 for the Ambetter Health 400. Live coverage of the second points race of the season will broadcast live on FOX at 3 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Mitchell White/TheFourthTurn.com

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