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Daytona 500: William Byron wins wild NASCAR Cup opener as Ross Chastain wrecks

Byron, who had never finished better than 21st in the NASCAR Cup season opener, grabbed the lead from Ross Chastain on a restart with four of 200 laps remaining.

Byron had just taken the white flag – signaling the start of the final lap – when a multi-car wreck erupted behind him which forced NASCAR to immediately throw a caution, which froze the field.

That locked Byron, 26, into the victory in Monday’s rain-delayed “Great American Race” – the 302nd Cup win for HMS.

Watch: William Byron: ‘It sounds really good’ to be Daytona 500 winner

The win Byron’s 11th of his career and comes on the heels of his first appearance last season in the Championship 4 competing for a series title.

It sounds really damn good.,” Byron said when asked how it feels to be called a Daytona 500 champion. “Thanks to an awesome crowd for coming out. I have so many emotions.

“Obviously hate what happened on that backstretch (earlier). I just got pushed and got sideways. But so proud of this team 40th anniversary to the day on Monday. Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities, and we just want to keep it going. 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 credited his No. 24 team’s strategy throughout the race in getting him in position for the win. 

“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, but yeah, just thankful for great power under the hood, all of our partners, Chevrolet, everybody that allows us to do this.” he said. 

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500, I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here. He’s sick, but this is for him, man. We’ve been through so much, and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched the race. This is so freaking cool.”

Chastain was behind Byron on the outside coming down the frontstretch when he attempted to cut to his inside for the lead but instead made contact with Austin Cindric, which triggered the final caution.

Byron’s Hendrick teammate, Alex Bowman ended up second, Christopher Bell was third, Corey LaJoie fourth and Bubba Wallace rallied from a late pit stop for fuel to finish fifth.

Completing the top-10 were A.J. Allmendinger, John Hunter Nemechek, Erik Jones, Noah Gragson and Chase Briscoe.

Stage 1

Following some late green flag stops for fuel, Chase Elliott passed Kyle Busch on the last of 65 laps and claimed the Stage 1 win. Kyle Larson was second, Chastain third, Bowman fourth and Byron fifth as Chevrolets took the top six spots.

A lap 5 wreck collected seven cars and knocked Harrison Burton, Carson Hocevar and Kaz Grala out of the race early.

 

Stage 2

Ryan Blaney shoved Cindric to the lead, then passed him on the last lap and held on to take the Stage 2 win by 0.117 seconds.

Daniel Suarez was third, Busch – who led entering the last lap – was fourth and Reddick rounded out the top five. Busch rallied from a safety violation on his green flag pit stop to get back in contention for the stage victory.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead lap cars elected to pit with Cindric first off pit road. Suarez was penalized by NASCAR for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

During the break, Busch’s No. 8 Chevrolet dropped to the apron of the track and appeared to be trailing smoke. He made it to pit road when it was discovered he was missing the lug nut on his left-front wheel.

 

The final stage went green on lap 137 and Cindric out front.

With 50 laps remaining, LaJoie and Busch battled side by side for the lead and two laps later Hamlin moved out front for the first time in the race.

A group of Fords led by Joey Logano used the inside line to power to the front with 36 laps to go.

Hemrick led a group of five cars from the back of the field to kick off the final round of green flag pit stops with 22 laps remaining. Most of the Toyota drivers followed a lap later.

Once the cycle of stops was completed, Suarez cycled to the lead with 14 laps remaining. He was followed by Byron and Elliott. 

On Lap 192, Byron hooked Brad Keselowski entering Turn 3 which sent Keselowski up the track and into Logano and triggered a huge wreck that ended up collecting 23 cars.

 

NASCAR red flagged the race for nearly 16 minutes to clean the track of debris. Several cars elected to pit but Chastain remained on the track and in the lead.

On the restart with four laps remaining, Chastain led the way followed by Byron, Bowman and Cindric. Byron quickly powered to the lead after the restart.



This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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