William Byron Wins One for Mom

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - APRIL 09: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway on April 09, 2022 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

William Byron became the NASCAR Cup series first two-time winner of 2022 Saturday night. He also has to find room for another grandfather clock.

Byron led a race high 212 laps and held off Joey Logano on an overtime finish to win the Blue-Emu 400 for his second win of the season and the fourth of his career.

“It feels awesome,” Byron, who also won last month at Atlanta, said. “I knew when that last caution came out we were probably — I thought everyone behind us would pit, and luckily we stayed out. We were aggressive; we felt like we could refire on the tires and be okay, and you’ve got one of the most aggressive guys behind you in Logano. I knew — I chattered the tires in 3 and 4 and kind of left the bottom open but was able to block my exits and get a good drive off.”

Behind Logano, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain rounded out the top five.

I’m a little bummed,” Dillon said. “I like to pride myself in when we get in those situations being clutch, and that was anything but that on that last restart. I spun the tires pretty good through the gears. Once I got back in line there I had some grip, and I feel like we had good forward drive all night long and I just felt like if we got to the gears we were going to have a shot at him.”

Saturday’s lap led count was the most Byron has led in an entire season. The win comes days after he returned to the NASCAR Truck series for the first time since 2016 at Martinsville Thursday night and led the most laps in that race cruising to victory by 1.1 seconds. Saturday, he won by just .303 of a second over Logano after a restart for Todd Gilliland who hit the wall with five laps to go which brought out the race’s fourth and final caution, and set up an overtime finish.

“That final restart there, had a front row,” Logano said. “That’s what you can ask for. Got cleared to second, and Willy kind of messed up off of 4 and let me get to him, and he did a really good job of brake checking into third, right, which is a good job. He did what he was supposed to do, and kind of got me all stuffed up behind him and I couldn’t accelerate off the corner and be as close as I needed to be down into 3 to execute the ol’ bump-and-run. Couldn’t get quite to him, but his corner entry was really strong, too, which I think allowed him to get in there pretty strong.”

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – APRIL 09: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, is congratulated by his mother, Dana Byron and father, Bill Byron after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway on April 09, 2022 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Much of the 400 laps was a sedate affair that belonged to Hendrick Motorsports. Chase Elliott led from pole sweeping the stages and leading the second most laps on the night, 185. Ryan Blaney was the only other driver to lead laps, 5, and that came during a round of green flag stops.

Byron took the lead after the Stage 2 pit stops when he beat Elliott out of the pits. Elliott held second after the restart on lap 192 but had fallen to fifth lap 284.

When the races third caution and the first for an on-track incident, came out on lap 313 when Denny Hamlin stalled, Elliott running 4th, was among the few who pitted. He rejoined the pack in 12th but was never able to make another run towards the front and had to settle for 10th.

Between Chastain and Elliott, Kurt Busch was sixth, brother Kyle seventh, Aric Almirola eighth and Chase Briscoe ninth.

Saturday’s win was made even more special as it comes a year after Byron’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. With a clean bill of health both mom and his dad were in attendance.

This one is for my mom. This same weekend last year she had kind of a mini-stroke and was diagnosed with brain cancer. It means a lot to have her here, and it’s been a crazy year, but she’s doing great, and thanks, everybody, for the support. I kind of felt like she was riding in there with me. It’s cool to have her here, and I’m definitely going to enjoy this one.

The start of the race was delayed nearly an hour for light rain mixed with sleet. The Cup series now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for its second ever appearance on the dirt track there next Sunday night.

Photos: NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway Saturday April 9, 2022

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400
Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville, Virginia
Saturday, April 9, 2022

1. (5) William Byron, Chevrolet, 403.

2. (14) Joey Logano, Ford, 403.

3. (23) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 403.

4. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 403.

5. (27) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 403.

6. (18) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 403.

7. (11) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 403.

8. (2) Aric Almirola, Ford, 403.

9. (19) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 403.

10. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 403.

11. (13) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 403.

12. (15) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 403.

13. (24) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 403.

14. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 403.

15. (4) Chris Buescher, Ford, 403.

16. (21) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 403.

17. (9) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 403.

18. (22) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 403.

19. (8) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 403.

20. (7) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 402.

21. (3) Cole Custer, Ford, 402.

22. (20) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 401.

23. (34) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 401.

24. (36) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 401.

25. (16) Michael McDowell, Ford, 400.

26. (29) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 400.

27. (28) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 400.

28. (25) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.

29. (30) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 399.

30. (10) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 399.

31. (17) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 398.

32. (26) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 397.

33. (35) Cody Ware, Ford, 394.

34. (32) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 392.

35. (31) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 391.

36. (33) BJ McLeod, Ford, Handling, 132.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 79.244 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 40 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.303 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes: 5 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-185;W. Byron 186-303;R. Blaney 304-308;W. Byron 309-319;A. Dillon 320;W. Byron 321-403.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): William Byron 3 times for 212 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 185 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 5 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,24,41,20,10,4,12,22,2,45
Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,24,22,12,41,3,10,2,20,4

Greg Engle