Monday, June 24, 2024

William Byron capitalises on late wreck, wins Goodyear 400

Ross Chastain just can’t avoid drama.

The NASCAR Cup SeriesGoodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway went from being a goodday for Chastain, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Larson, to a badday. The trio combined to lead all but 28 of 293 laps, only for Truex to crash while racing Chastain before the latter wrecked with Larson as they battled for first.

Truex won the pole and dominated the first half as he claimed the first stage and led 145 laps, only for his day to come to an end on the final lap of Stage #2. He had been pursuing Chastain for much of said lap before Truex got into his left-rear bumper in turn three. Chastain bounced off the wall and collided with Truex, causing the latter to spin down the track.

While he avoided damage, Truex never led again as he was forced to make up lost ground. He succeeded for the most part as he was running fifth with fourteen laps to go but was turned in turn one after driving up into Joey Logano on the ensuing restart and triggering an eight-car stack-up.

“There was plenty of room there, but he just came off the wall and hit me,” said Truex of Chastain. “Like I said, knocked the tow out in the right front. Pretty crappy from there and then on that restart I guess I just got real tight and I don’t even know who I squeezed into the wall, but I apologise to them. Probably my fault, just got real tight and couldn’t stay down the track.”

The wreck resulted in Chastain and Larson’s nearly identical demise when they ran side-by-side through the first corner. Like Truex, contact between the two caused Chastain to get sideways in front of Larson, sandwiching the latter with the wall. Ironically, Larson had won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race after very similar contact to the Truex/Chastain clash occurred with John Hunter Nemechek coming to the finish.

Larson and Chastain had tangled earlier in the season at Dover and Talladega, prompting Larson’s team owner Rick Hendrick to say Chastain is “going to make a lot of enemies” with his driving style. Indeed, Chastain’s aggressiveness resulted in a feud with Denny Hamlin throughout the 2022 season while contact with Noah Gragson in last week’s race at Kansas resulted in a post-race fight on pit road.

While Hendrick had plenty of reason to be frustrated with Larson’s exit, he couldn’t be too upset overall as William Byron still brought home the win. The Chastain/Larson incident resulted in overtime, from which Byron led both laps and held off Kevin Harvick to win for the third time in 2023.

In the spirit of Darlington’s throwback weekend, Byron won in a special livery resembling Jeff Gordon’s #24 “Chromalusion” car that he raced in 1998. Fittingly, Byron’s win was also the 100th for the #24 car in the Cup Series.

“My granddad passed away on Thursday, and I wish my family could be here,” said Byron. “Just things have a way of working out, honestly. It just worked out that way today. We didn’t have the best third stage. We just kept battling, and things just kind of come back around.

“Want to wish happy Mother’s Day to my mom. My sister just graduated school, so big day. Definitely didn’t expect this. But just thankful for a great team, and things have a way of working out.”

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 4 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 295 Running
2 20 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 295 Running
3 21 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 295 Running
4 10 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 295 Running
5 2 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 295 Running
6 14 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 295 Running
7 12 8 Kyle Busch Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 295 Running
8 22 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 295 Running
9 11 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 295 Running
10 27 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 295 Running
11 24 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 295 Running
12 8 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 295 Running
13 3 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 295 Running
14 16 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 295 Running
15 32 41 Ryan Preece Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 295 Running
16 13 54 Ty Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 295 Running
17 31 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 295 Running
18 15 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 295 Running
19 25 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 295 Running
20 7 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 295 Running
21 17 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 295 Running
22 9 45 Tyler Reddick 23XI Racing Toyota 295 Running
23 30 16 A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 294 Running
24 34 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 293 Running
25 28 43 Erik Jones Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 293 Running
26 29 42 Noah Gragson Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 293 Running
27 33 77 Ty Dillon Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 293 Running
28 26 51 Ryan Newman Rick Ware Racing Ford 291 Running
29 5 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 287 Accident
30 23 48 Josh Berry* Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 286 Running
31 1 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 280 Accident
32 35 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Chevrolet 226 Steering
33 19 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 200 Accident
34 6 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 199 Accident
35 18 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 196 Accident
36 36 15 Brennan Poole* Rick Ware Racing Ford 39 Transmission
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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