DARLINGTON, S.C. – A year after being booted in Turn 3 by Joey Logano coming to the white flag, William Byron earned a redemptive victory at The Track Too Tough to Tame on Sunday in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Mother’s Day.
“Yeah, it's pretty amazing. My granddad passed away on Thursday, and just man, I wish my family could be here,” Byron said. “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.
“Want to wish Happy Mother's Day to my mom. My sister just graduated school, so big day. Definitely didn't expect this. But just thankful for a great team, and yeah, just things have a way of working out, and come back here to Darlington and have it go exactly the other way.”
With the win, Byron becomes the first three-time winner this season after going back to back at Las Vegas and Phoenix in March. The win is also Hendrick Motorsports’ first at Darlington since Jimmie Johnson won the Southern 500 in May 2012, and is the 100th win for the No. 24 car – Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon had 93, and Byron now has seven.
After starting fourth, Byron had a solid top-10 run going for most of the day but was never really a threat to win – that was until a flurry of cautions broke out over the last 17 laps of regulation.
The first was a Ryan Newman spin on Lap 277 in Turn 4. Newman was making his first Cup Series start since the 2021 season finale in Phoenix, driving the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing.
Kyle Larson, Byron’s Hendrick teammate, looked to have the race won after assuming the lead with 31 laps remaining following a green-flag pit cycle before the spin.
On the ensuing restart, Martin Truex Jr. – the Stage 1 winner who led a race-best 145 laps – made contact with Logano and got turned right into the fence to trigger an eight-car melee in Turn 2. Truex finished 31st and Logano 18th.
Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola and Ryan Blaney were the others involved.
Ross Chastain, the Stage 2 winner who led 93 laps on the day, took the inside for the restart with six laps left and ran Larson high into the fence in Turn 1. Larson held his ground and Chastain spun across his nose to force Overtime. Larson wound up 20th, Chastain 29th.
With the door opened for Byron, he chose the outside lane for the Overtime restart and Kevin Harvick took the inside. Byron was able to clear Harvick off Turn 2 and set sail to victory lane over the final two laps.
Elliott rebounded to finish third in a car reminiscent of his father Bill’s from the early 2000s on Throwback Weekend. Keselowski was fourth and Bubba Wallace was fifth.
Wallace led the opening lap of the race after starting second, but Truex took the lead for the next 89 laps en route to a dominant Stage 1 victory. Truex held first place until making his first green-flag stop of the day on Lap 139.
Truex regained the lead by Lap 143 but was run down by Chastain on Lap 151 as the Trackhouse Racing driver led the final 35 laps of the second stage.
The stage end wasn’t without drama either, as Truex got to Chastain’s inside in Turn 3 on the stage’s final lap. Chastain hit the outside wall, bounced into Truex and sent him spinning as Chastain claimed the stage.
Second-year driver Harrison Burton earned his first top-10 of the year with a sixth-place showing. Kyle Busch was seventh, Justin Haley eighth, Blaney ninth and Chris Buescher 10th.
Despite plentiful drama, Chastain retains the points lead by 27 over Christopher Bell. Bell, too, looked to have a chance at the win as he came off pit road in second place with less than 15 laps to go. He was forced to come back to the pits almost immediately to put four new tires on as he reported a loose wheel after the initial stop. Bell ended up 14th.
The Cup Series makes its eagerly awaited return to North Wilkesboro for the first time since 1996 next Sunday for All-Star weekend. Coverage of the All-Star Open begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, followed by the All-Star Race at 8.