By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
William Byron took full advantage of a late on-track incident between Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson to triumph in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 Darlington Raceway and become the first three-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series this season.
For Byron, the victory was sweet redemption for last season’s spring race at the Lady in Black, where Joey Logano’s bump-and-run denied Byron his first victory at the fabled speedway.
“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing,” said Byron, who earned the 100th victory for the No. 24 team. “My granddad passed away on Thursday, and just, man, I wish my family could be here. 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.
“Definitely didn’t expect this. But just thankful for a great team, and, yeah, just things have a way of working out, and to come back here to Darlington and have it go exactly the other way.”
It was a Lap 288 crash between Chastain and Larson—while battling for the lead—that gave Byron the opportunity to collect his seventh career victory.
Taking the inside lane, with Larson beside him, Chastain led the field to a restart after an eight-car wreck necessitated the seventh caution on Lap 281. Chastain drove hard into Turn 1, plowed up the track and wrecked both his No. 1 Chevrolet and Larson’s No. 5.
“How does that make any sense, running us into the fence?” Cliff Daniels, Larson’s crew chief fumed on the team radio. “That’s three races he’s taken us out of—the 1 car—three races he’s taken us out of.”
Chastain took responsibility for the mistake that took him out of the race and relegated Larson to a 20th-place result.
“Full commit into Turn 1,” said Chastain, who finished 29th. “I got really tight and drove up and turned myself. I wanted to squeeze him. I wanted to push him up. We’d been racing back and forth all day. But I definitely didn’t want to turn myself.”
The incident forced overtime, handed the lead to the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Byron outran Kevin Harvick in the final two-lap dash.
In a race that included massive wrecks on Laps 194 and 281, Chase Elliott ran third, followed by Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher.
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