Hendrick Motorsports had a milestone win at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday. But win number 300 for the organization didn’t come from the driver who dominated the 400 miles at the 1.5-mile track.
It was William Byron who took the lead with 6 laps remaining on a restart with a three wide move on Bubba Wallace and cruised to a 1.8 second win, his series leading sixth victory of the season.
“Man, that’s badass,” Byron said. “I finally got a good restart at the end. Just ooh, it was hot today. I think it’s finally hitting me. But No. 300 for Hendrick Motorsports. Kyle really deserved this one, got to say. Those guys were really fast all day, and hate it for them at the end.”
Kyle is Kyle Larson who led 99 laps and enjoyed a five second lead late in the going but a caution with 20 laps to go ended it all for Larson. On the restart on lap 250 Larson was inside and Wallace on the outside. The two raced side by side but after coming across the line and back into Turn 1 Larson got loose and spun sending his Chevy hard into the outside wall and out of contention for the win.
Polesitter Wallace, who led a race high 11 laps was in control when the races 11th and final caution came out on lap 257 when Tyler Reddick followed by Erik Jones both got into the wall exiting Turn 4 while running just outside the top 10. The ensuing melee swept up six cars including Ryan Blaney who was rallying from a pit road penalty from earlier in the race.
Wallace led on the restart but had nothing for Byron who made the three wide move going into Turn 3 and went on to win. For Wallace the disappointment continued as Ross Chastain, who has struggled all race long was able to steal second leaving Wallace with a third-place finish.
“Third time I fooled myself starting on top,” Wallace said. “These guys gave me the right information. 14 was tight and he sent it off in there. Wasn’t going to stick, but that’s what he’s going to do. We’re racing for a win. I just hate it. I should have just kept my line into 3, and forced William to get tight. But we’re so vulnerable in these cars, right.
“But just upset with myself. Really needed a win there, and it was a good showing. I don’t know where that puts us. I don’t really care. But I know what I did and I choked.”
For Chastain the runner up was an amazing result considering his Chevy was having issues most of the race.
“It was terrible,” he said. “You push the gas and it ain’t got no gas. I noticed something on a few cautions like having the car off in third gear, clutching, dropped the clutch with the ignition on, and it kind of stumbled, but I thought I just had it too low of RPM.
“Then I pit, and that pit stop is when it had already failed, and it wouldn’t go. I’m part throttle to get it fired, and it doesn’t think I’m doing anything. From there they walked me through it, and basically I just had to give it a lot of throttle, so the next pit stop for our final two-tire stop was just a whole lot of throttle.”
Christopher Bell overcame a slow pit stop to finish fourth, and Denny Hamlin who had contact on pit road from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs held on for fifth.
Kyle Busch, racing the Richard Childress Racing Chevy that Tyler Reddick won at Texas with last year, was the first Playoff driver out of the race. Nearing the end of Stage 1 Busch reported a possible tire going flat. He tried to hold on to finish the stage but on lap 74 with 7 laps to go in the stage the tire went flat entering Turn 2 and the car slid into the outside wall with the rear.
Kevin Harvick was sixth, Playoff driver Brad Keselowski seventh with Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top 10.
Larson who won Stage 2, was scored 31st, Blaney, 28th, Reddick who won Stage 1, was 25th. Martin Truex Jr., who spun early in the race and avoided the late race accident with Reddick was 17th and Chris Buescher 14th.
Byron leads the Playoff standings while Larson is the final driver still eligible to move onto the Round of 8 on points. Wallace is 9th two points back, Reddick 10th three back, Blaney 11th, 11 points back and Busch is 12th minus 17 points from the cutoff.
The next race in the Round of 12 is next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway where Chase Elliott is the defending winner.
For Byron the win, the 300th for Hendrick, gets him and the team one step closer to racing for the championship 4.
“Yeah, it’s cool,” Byron said. “We’ve just been kind of steady Eddie through the first three, four races and we haven’t shown any flashes, but today I thought we had a good car if we could have just gotten to the front, and at the end there we were really fast.”
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