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      How it happened: Byron claims third victory of season

      © 2023 John K Harrelson / NKP

      Start: 4th
      Finish: 1st

      After qualifying on Saturday, William Byron earned a fourth-place starting position for Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway. At the start, Byron immediately took over third and continued to maintain that position throughout the first half of the stage. The first caution of the race came out on lap 37, where Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, with the Axalta crew picking up one position on pit road. Choosing the low lane, Byron restarted on the front row on lap 44 but slid back to third on the initial restart. As the run continued, Byron showed speed, making the pass back for second on lap 79. Byron maintained that position until the end of stage one, scoring stage points with a runner-up result in the stage. Under the stage break, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

      For the start of the second stage, Byron chose the low lane, restarting on the front row. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native maintained his second-place position as the stage went green. However, the longer the run went, the more tight Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would become. Needing an adjustment, Fugle called his driver down pit road under green on lap 137 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Once pit stops fully cycled through, Byron was once again scored second, trying to chase down the leaders. Unfortunately though, in the second half of the stage, the No. 24 was way too tight to manage, dropping Byron back to fifth. The 25-year-old driver was able to maintain his top-five running position though until the end of stage two, once again scoring stage points. Under the stage break, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.

      For the start of the final stage, Byron lined up in the inside lane, choosing to restart in the third position. However, Byron quickly radioed that he was still too tight to start the run, dropping back to fourth as the run went on. When the caution came out on lap 210, Fugle called the No. 24 down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Byron lined up in fourth when the field went back green but quickly maneuvered his way up to second with just under 70 laps remaining. Closing in on the leaders as the run continued, it turned into a three-way battle for the lead before Fugle called the No. 24 down pit road under green on lap 247 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately having to avoid another car exiting pit road, Byron cycled back to the eighth position with 32 laps to go. Byron was able to make the pass for seventh just before the caution came out with 18 laps to go. Electing not to pit, Byron chose the low lane again, restarting in seventh. Just as the field went back green, the caution came out with Byron narrowly avoiding an on-track incident propelling him up to third. Going back green with six laps remaining, Byron powered his way to the lead with the caution coming out almost immediately again. Electing to restart in the high lane for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Byron took the lead on the restart and never looked back, scoring his third win of the 2023 season.

      Byron led his Hendrick Motorsport’s teammates to the finish line, collecting the win Sunday at Darlington Raceway. Chase Elliott also scored a top-five finish, crossing the line in third. Kyle Larson was scored in the 20th position after being involved in an on-track incident while leading. Josh Berry, who is filling in for the injured Alex Bowman, finished 30th after hitting the wall numerous times that needed repairs.

      © 2023 John K Harrelson / NKP

      One year ago the frustration, the fire, that we saw in you of being wrecked from the lead with two to go. Now you come back here a year later, a little bit of redemption. Put into words what this one means.

      William Byron: “Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. My granddad passed away on Thursday, and just man, I wish my family could be here. Just 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 came 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. Just things have a way of working out, and to come back here to Darlington and have it go exactly the other way.”

      There’s a lot to celebrate, obviously. It’s NASCAR’s 75th anniversary. You do it at the second oldest track at Darlington. I just heard your team say win No. 100 for the No. 24. What can you say about this team and the process that you guys have gone through this year?

      William Byron: “Yeah, I’m just thankful that I was able to get in this No. 24 car. I was too young at the time I feel like, but growing up, maturing and just having a great team around me and being able to build the core that we have. I have a great group of guys – Rudy (Fugle, crew chief), Brandon McSwain, Tyler (Jones, car chief), everybody on the team does a great job preparing good cars, and we work hard at it. It’s nice to see it go our way once.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports