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Questions Answered After William Byron Wins at Darlington

NASCAR Cup Series car of #24: William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Camaro, racing in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, NKP

Who… should you be talking about after the race?

Darlington raceway never makes it easy on a would-be winner. It’s not called the Track Too Tough to Tame for nothing. Just when it seemed as though Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain would duke it out for the win in the 2023 Goodyear 400, the Lady in Black chose another dance partner. As Chastain and Larson clashed and then crashed in overtime, William Byron found the Lady’s favor, avoiding their sliding cars to win his third race of 2023 for owner Rick Hendrick, who hadn’t won at Darlington since 2012.

Byron led twice for only seven laps, but he raced a smart, careful race. That turned out to be the ticket to victory lane. And a really big hat.

And don’t forget Justin Haley. Just in case you aren’t convinced that racing the racetrack is crucial to Darlington success, Haley shows how racing your own race without overdriving and at the same time keeping an eye out for trouble pays big dividends. Starting 22nd, Haley made his way to an eighth-place finish, beating several faster cars with perseverance.

What… is the big question leaving this race in the rearview?

With his third win of the season, Byron has to be the title favorite, right? The wins give him playoff points and momentum, but he also has a couple of DNFs that have knocked some wind from his sails. But at the halfway point, nobody really stands out as a real favorite. Larson and Kyle Busch have two wins apiece, but like Byron, haven’t found the consistency that makes people point and say, ‘that guy looks like a champion.’

Chastain leads the points without a win and without much more consistency than anyone else. Christopher Bell has been the most consistent, but he has also had some bad luck.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. The unpredictability of 2022 made it one of the more memorable seasons in recent history. More of the same in ’23? Yes, please.

Where… did the other key players wind up? 

Pole winner Martin Truex Jr. handily won stage one, leading all but one lap. He scored a 10th-place finish in the second stage after spinning out on the final lap, but he found himself in eighth for the start of the final segment. Truex worked his way to fourth, but a restart on lap 281 saw many of the leaders caught in a multi-car incident, and Truex was the first car collected. The damage was severe enough to send Truex to the garage with a 31st-place result.

Defending race winner Joey…

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