Sixth NASCAR Win Of ’23 For William Byron Comes At Texas; Hendrick Motorsports Gets #300

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick team owner of Hendrick Motorsport (L) and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, celebrate Hendrick Motorsports' 300th NASCAR Cup Series win after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 24, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 24: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, and Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 24, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports picked up their historic 300th career NASCAR Cup Series win.

However, it wasn’t the dominant driver of the day, Hendrick’s Kyle Larson, who was standing in victory lane.

That honor was bestowed upon William Byron who reaped the benefits of a crash that took Larson out of contention and a late-race restart to drive around Bubba Wallace and record his series-leading sixth win of 2023.

“I finally got a good restart at the end,” Byron said. “Happy to get #300 for Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle really deserved this one. The 5 team was really fast all day and I hate it for them not to get the finish they should have.”

While he wasn’t in contention for the win until the end of the race, Byron knew how important being up front was during the course of the event.

“It was awesome to get our car to the front,” he said. “I loved clean air so we fought through traffic all day and our car was just tight back in traffic. It was a hot day, a grind it out day and I’m glad our team was there at the end.”

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick team owner of Hendrick Motorsport (L) and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, celebrate Hendrick Motorsports’ 300th NASCAR Cup Series win after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 24, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On the other end of the spectrum, Kyle Larson. Larson, who led 99 laps on the day, looked like he was on his way to punch his ticket to the Round of 8 for the 2023 Playoffs. However, it was for naught as the California driver spun after a door-to-door battle for the lead with Bubba Wallace just 20 laps from the end and finished 31st.

“Bubba did a good job to stay with me on the restart,” Larson said. “I was trying to open up my arch into turn one. With these cars, compared to the old ones, you don’t really get sucked around and spin like that. I wasn’t really expecting it.”

You could see the dejection on Larson’s face post-race.

“I thought I was going to be fine,” he said. “We just went in there side-by-side. I lost it really quickly and crashed. I’m pretty bummed but am happy for William (Bryon). Happy for Mr. Hendrick. Getting 300 Cup Series wins is incredible so happy it was a great night overall for our organization.”

Larson, who averaged just over a second-place finish in the first round of the Playoffs, looked like he was on his way to continue that streak Sunday, and was quick to give the credit for how fast he was to his team.

“We had a super-fast car today,” he said. “We’ve had a fast car at every Playoff race so far. Now, we’ll go to Talladega, try to have a good day and get some good fortune before we head to the Roval.”

Ross Chastain was able to come out of nowhere late in the race and drove his Trackhouse Racing #1 to the runner-up spot at the finish. After having a throttle position sensor go bad on a pit stop, the team rallied and came home in second.

“It was terrible,” Chastain said. “I was pushing the gas pedal down and there was nothing. On that pit stop, it failed so the team walked me through what I needed to do on pit stops and restarts to get to the finish.”

Chastain knew his car wasn’t a winning car, but the team played strategy perfect to get him to the front when it counted.

“We weren’t fast enough to run second with two tires,” he said. “We were with four. Early in the race, I thought we were one of the best cars but we worked out way back into contention with taking four tires a lot. There were some bad restarts on my part but we showed we had the speed and showed it all weekend.”

Wallace came home in the third position after leading a race-high 111 laps. The 23XI Racing driver was leading on the final restart but just couldn’t hold it.

“It was the third time starting on top (the outside lane) and I fooled myself,” Wallace said. “My guys gave me the right information that the 14 (Chase Briscoe, starting inside) was tight. He sent it off into the corner and he knew it wasn’t going to stick but did what he had to do. We were racing for a win.”

NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick team owner of Hendrick Motorsport (L) and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, celebrate Hendrick Motorsports’ 300th NASCAR Cup Series win after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on September 24, 2023 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

That was the chance that gave Byron the lane to the inside down the backstretch to clear Wallace and take the top spot for good.

“I’m just upset with myself,” he said. “We really needed a win but it was a good showing for our team. We grinded it out today, came away with a solid points day and now it’s on to Talladega.”

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin came home with fourth and fifth, respectively.

A multitude of drivers in the Playoffs had troubles on Sunday.

In addition to Larson, Kyle Busch crashed out on lap 74 while running seventh. He was credited with 34th at the finish while Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick were involved in a crash with 12 laps to go in the event. Blaney was done for the day and finished 28th while Reddick continued but wasn’t a factor, coming home 25th.

Heading into the second race of the round, next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, the four drivers on the outside looking in include Wallace (-2), Reddick (-3), Blaney (-11) and Busch (-17).

Even with his troubles, Larson, on the other hand, is hanging on by the skin of his teeth after his misfortune. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Champion is currently two points to the good as the Series heads to the biggest track on the circuit.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Sunday, September 24, 2023

1. (18) William Byron (P), Chevrolet, 267.

2. (5) Ross Chastain (P), Chevrolet, 267.

3. (1) Bubba Wallace (P), Toyota, 267.

4. (9) Christopher Bell (P), Toyota, 267.

5. (10) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 267.

6. (22) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.

7. (3) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 267.

8. (8) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 267.

9. (24) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 267.

10. (31) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 267.

11. (29) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 267.

12. (14) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.

13. (28) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 267.

14. (2) Chris Buescher (P), Ford, 267.

15. (17) Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.

16. (19) Carson Hocevar(i), Chevrolet, 267.

17. (16) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.

18. (21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 267.

19. (26) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

20. (30) Harrison Burton, Ford, 267.

21. (20) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.

22. (34) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 267.

23. (25) Ryan Preece, Ford, 267.

24. (33) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 267.

25. (15) Tyler Reddick (P), Toyota, 267.

26. (27) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 262.

27. (32) Austin Cindric, Ford, Accident, 261.

28. (23) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, Accident, 258.

29. (6) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 255.

30. (12) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 255.

31. (11) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, DVP, 248.

32. (35) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, Accident, 241.

33. (4) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, Accident, 77.

34. (7) Kyle Busch (P), Chevrolet, DVP, 73.

35. (36) Todd Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 52.

36. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 40.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 123.569 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 14 Mins, 28 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.863 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 11 for 55 laps.
Lead Changes: 22 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders: B. Wallace (P) 1-38;A. Allmendinger 39;A. Bowman 40;T. Dillon 41-43;C. Elliott (P) 44;B. Wallace (P) 45-57;R. Chastain (P) 58;B. Wallace (P) 59-76;C. Buescher (P) 77-78;T. Reddick (P) 79-114;J. Yeley(i) 115;B. Wallace (P) 116-142;K. Larson (P) 143-167;E. Jones 168;A. Cindric 169;K. Larson (P) 170;E. Jones 171;K. Larson (P) 172-210;E. Jones 211;J. Yeley(i) 212;K. Larson (P) 213-246;B. Wallace (P) 247-261;W. Byron (P) 262-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Bubba Wallace (P) 5 times for 111 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 4 times for 99 laps; Tyler Reddick (P) 1 time for 36 laps; William Byron (P) 1 time for 6 laps; Erik Jones 3 times for 3 laps; Ty Dillon 1 time for 3 laps; JJ Yeley(i) 2 times for 2 laps; Chris Buescher (P) 1 time for 2 laps; Austin Cindric 1 time for 1 lap; AJ Allmendinger 1 time for 1 lap; Alex Bowman 1 time for 1 lap; Chase Elliott (P) 1 time for 1 lap; Ross Chastain (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 45,17,20,24,34,9,12,14,11,23
Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,43,11,12,17,9,6,1,23,99

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