Crash brings early end to Daytona 500 for Duel winner William Byron

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 17: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, crashes during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

William Byron tasted victory for the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night.

In Monday’s rain-delayed Daytona 500, Byron experienced the sting of an early exit from NASCAR’s most prestigious race.

On Lap 45, the Hendrick Motorsports cars driven by Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman and Byron charged into the top four positions in the running order. But on Lap 59, as he was trying to block a run by the Ford of Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. slid the front bumper of his car across the rear bumper of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet.

A final tap from Stenhouse to the left rear of Byron’s car sent the No. 24 sliding through the infield grass into the inside wall on the backstretch. The hard crash eliminated Byron in last (40th) place.

“Obviously, I got hit in the back bumper,” Byron said after exiting the infield care center. “I saw a brief replay of it. He (Stenhouse) was kind of moving when he hit me first and so he pushed me left with him. And then he hit me in the center of the left rear and just turned me around.

“I think it was just enough. The first hit, when he was sliding left on my bumper, is what really moved my car left with him. So I don’t know. It’s unfortunate. I feel like there’s really no reason to be that aggressive moving across my bumper, but it is what it is. We’ll go on to Vegas (next Sunday) and go try to win that one.”