William Byron Tops Hendrick 1-2-3 In Special 40th Anniversary Finish At Martinsville

William Byron Tops Hendrick 1-2-3 In Special 40th Anniversary Finish At Martinsville

by April 7, 2024 1 comment

RIDGEWAY, Va. – William Byron led a Hendrick Motorsports 1-2-3 finish on a memorable day at Martinsville Speedway that celebrated the team’s 40th anniversary.

In April of 1984 at Martinsville Speedway, Geoff Bodine topped the field to win Hendrick’s first-ever win, and 40 years later, it was Byron capturing the organization’s 305th victory in the Cook Out 400.

“You can’t script it like this,” said Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman. “I knew we had good race cars when they showed up here yesterday. But the race, the way it played out, to get that green flag stop was it. Our cars were so good on the short runs. We just needed to get that track position.”

Byron was well on his way to winning, but then the caution came out, and he had to survive in NASCAR Overtime. On the final restart of the day, Byron restarted on the inside of the front row with his teammate, Chase Elliott on the outside. Elliott received a big shove into Turn 1 by Ryan Blaney, but it was Byron who held strong on the bottom and secured the advantage on the backstretch. Elliott attempted to move Byron out of the way in Turn 3 but was unsuccessful.

“Yeah, I just want to thank Chase for racing me clean there,” Byron said. “Could get really physical at the end. He gave me a shot, which is expected. We all finish it off.

Byron held on as he piloted the No. 24 Chevrolet to victory for the third time this season and the 13th time of his career. The North Carolina native grew up a Hendrick Motorsports fan, so not only was the win big for the organization but also for Byron.

“Just so proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports,” Byron said. “Grew up a big Hendrick fan. To be here for the 40th anniversary, all that goes into just this organization, all the people, it’s all about the people. Just want to thank Mr. Hendrick and Linda and everyone involved.

“It’s pretty awesome. Bad ass to win at Martinsville. We’ve been struggling at the short tracks. Just kept inching up on it. I got a great team. They just kept my head in it. It stunk to do a restart there at the end like that, but that’s the way it goes.”

On the final lap, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson made his way around Elliott to secure the runner-up position. Larson entered the weekend coming off a third-place finish at Richmond Raceway, and on Sunday, he started on the pole. Throughout the race, Larson ran up front, winning Stage 1 and finishing third in Stage 2.

“Yeah, just a great day for Hendrick Motorsports,” Larson said. “It’s been a great 40 seasons for them. Really cool to have 1,500 people here from Hendrick Motorsports to celebrate.

“Congrats to William. He did a really good job. Kind of schooled us all there after that green flag stop. Did a really good job passing all of us. He was able to set a good pace, still get through traffic good.”

Elliott also ran up front all day but had to settle for his second top-five finish of the season.

“Glad one of us could get it done,” Elliott said. “Obviously wish we could have got it done, selfishly like anybody would.

“Nice to have a couple solid weeks, to be in contention there for a win. Haven’t been in contention to win one in a while. It was fun to kind of get to that last restart and it actually mattered. Enjoyed that aspect. Certainly hungry for more.”

Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney finished fourth and fifth respectively. Rounding out the top-10 was Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe.

Denny Hamlin was in position to compete for the win, but he was the lone leader on pit road when no one else made a stop prior to the start of the NASCAR Overtime finish. The Virginia native finished 11th.

“We were just trying to do anything we could to steal one with our Sport Clips Toyota,” Hamlin said. “We needed so many cars to do it – even still – the tires didn’t wear enough to matter. We saw when Joey (Logano) stayed out on those 80-lap lefts and led most of the stage. Tires didn’t wear, and we just struggled to pass all day. Once I came out of that cycle – third or fourth – that’s kind of just where I stayed.”

There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers on Sunday. Byron led a race high of 88 laps, followed by Larson he was in front of the field for 86 laps. Logano also led 84 laps.

The caution flew on five occasions for 51 laps. The only caution for an accident occurred on Lap 204, when Christopher Bell spun in Turn 4.

Larson now leads Martin Truex Jr. in the standings by 14 points.

Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series is the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 14. Live coverage will broadcast on FS1 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

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