Byron advances to NASCAR’s round of 8 with win at Texas, the 300th overall for Hendrick Motorsports
William Byron took the lead for the first time after the final restart with six laps left to win in Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — William Byron took the lead for the first time after the final restart with six laps left to win at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, advancing to the round of eight in the NASCAR playoffs while giving Hendrick Motorsports its 300th victory.
With Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe battling for the lead, Byron was able to get underneath them before finishing that first lap and staying there.
Wallace, who just snuck into the round of 12, started from the pole and led a career-high 111 laps to start the second round, but wound up third behind Byron and Ross Chastain, another playoff contender. Wallace moved up three spots to ninth in the standings, still one below the cutoff line when this round is done.
Byron finished 1.863 seconds ahead of Chastain for his sixth win of the season, the most in the Cup series. For the first time since Texas opened in 1997, the race wasn't scheduled for 501 miles, and was 100 miles shorter.
After another restart with 20 laps to go in the 267-lap race, when Kyle Larson and Wallace hadn't taken fresh tires for the final stretch, they were still side-by-side going into Turn 1. Larson was on the inside when he got loose, went up the track and and slammed hard into the wall to end his race, though he didn’t make contact with Wallace.
But there was another restart after five cars got caught up in an accident in the back of the field, including playoff contenders Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick, last year's winner at Texas.
That led to Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet, instead of Larson, getting the milestone victory for Hendrick.
Denny Hamlin, racing with damage to his right side after being hit by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs on pit road, finished fifth and moved up to second in the playoffs standings. Chris Bueshcher is third and Christopher Bell fourth after his fourth-place finish.
There are two more races in the round of 12, at Talladega next weekend and then the Roval at Charlotte, before four more drivers are eliminated from the playoff chase.
BUSCH BACKED OUT
Kyle Busch knew something was wrong with his car when trying to get to the end of first stage. The playoff contender didn't make it that far, with No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet getting loose and slamming hard into the outside wall in Turn 1 before coming down to the inside of the track.
“I felt like I had a flat right front (tire) , and I was going to come to pit road. I second-guessed it, and said 'I don't think so, man. It's just something's wrong. Something's not right, but it's not a a flat',” Busch said. “And just all on its own, just turned into the bottom of the race track in Turn one and it just swapped ends on me. That’s the rear, not the front, not having grip."
Busch had the car in reverse, backing down the entire backstretch, through the third and fourth turns all the way to his pit stall. He finished only 73 laps and was 34th in the 36-car field, dropping from sixth to 12th in the playoff standings.
Two cars lost rear right wheels in a span of 13 laps early in the race. Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet when racing full speed near Turn 3 on lap 41, bringing out the first caution soon after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops had mostly been completed.
Then 12 laps later, after another caution, Todd Gilliland was in a pack of cars in Turn 2 when the tire on the No. 51 Ford started coming loose and then snapped off the car.
The series returns to Talladega Superspeedway, where Busch won double overtime and under caution in April. Blaney and Buescher finished second and third in that race that had 57 lead changes among 21 drivers.
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