Following 400 miles under the lights at Daytona International Speedway, William Byron managed to outdo the rest of the field. The win marks the first of Byron’s Cup Series career. With the win, Byron managed to nab a spot in the playoffs. In addition to his playoff spot, Byron has collected eight top-tens throughout the season to complement his first Cup series win.
“Oh my God. I had confidence in Chad (Knaus) and the guys. We can get four tires and make the most of it. I’m extremely blessed. This is incredible, man. It has been a hard couple years in the Cup series, trying to get my first win and gel with this team. They’ve done a great job today and got us into the playoffs. It’s amazing,” Byron said.
Although it was Byron that collected the trophy, his teammate, Chase Elliott, finished in the runner-up position. Amidst the chaos, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Bubba Wallace survived the 160-lap race to round up the remainder of the top-five.
In addition to the excitement that superspeedways bring, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 marked the end of the regular season. Going into the race, spots one through twelve of the playoffs were secured through wins or clinching on points. The spots were occupied by the following drivers: Harvick, Hamlin, Keselowksi, Elliott, Logano, Truex Jr., Blaney, Bowman, A. Dillon, Custer, Almirola, and Ky. Busch. The final handful of spots would be determined by the results placed during the race. Prior to the green flag, Bowyer, Ku. Busch, Byron, and DiBenedetto filled positions thirteen through sixteen. The drivers remained in the top-16 to advance into the playoffs, after Johnson was involved in a late-race incident.
Before playoff spots were sought after and the forty drivers launched into the high banks of DIS, it was Kevin Harvick that led the field to set the race into motion. Harvick clinched the regular season championship at the Drydene 311 at Dover, just a week earlier; the regular season title earned the driver a 15-point bonus heading into the playoffs.
The field remained under green until the competition caution on lap 21. The remainder of the first stage continued under green. The second stage bred no yellow flags. Joey Logano accumulated both stage wins.
With 17 laps to go, the first incident-related caution appeared; James Davison’s spin was the cause. Brennan Gaughan was also involved in the accident. Lap 153 saw another yellow flag when Tyler Reddick attempted to block Kyle Busch. Reddick, Ky. Busch, Ku. Busch, A. Dillon, McDowell, Stenhouse Jr., Jones, Newman, and Preece were all involved in “the big one.” Just a few laps later, another big wreck came into fruition. Johnson, Reddick, Logano, Suarez, Nemechek, Custer, and Kenseth were all tangled in the disarray of racecars. The incident ruined Johnson’s playoff berth.
The first race of the playoffs begins next Sunday, September 6 at 6 PM ET. You won’t want to miss all of the action and throwback paint schemes in the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Catch all of the coverage on NBCS.