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NASCAR Cup: William Byron wins at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 28: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 28, 2021 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

William Byron dominated the final 100 laps of the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday en route to his second-career NASCAR Cup Series win and the first Cup Series win for crew chief Rudy Fugle in Fugle’s third race in the series. Byron led a race-high 102 laps of the 267-lap race.

“Yeah, that guy has been huge for my career,” Byron said. “He’s the reason I’m here, and I’m glad we could get him. He’s just awesome. This whole team did a phenomenal job. Everybody. The pit crew, over the wall, we’re extremely blessed. Thanks, God, for all the things that it takes to get to this level. Great boss in Mr. Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, and Axalta. This car looks really cool. I’m can’t even believe it, honestly. It was just a really smooth day. And we worked hard in the winter on this track. I can’t believe it.”

One of Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Kyle Larson, took the white flag in second, but he was passed by Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap to wind up fourth. Reddick’s second-place finish was a career-best.

“Well, finishing second is a good night, considering how the first two weekends of the season have gone, but I hate that I didn’t get this Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevy into victory lane, because if I would have, then I would have gotten a lot of people in America free chicken tenders on Monday night,” Reddick said. “Once I really saw how fast we were in clean air at the end of the race, and I saw how fast we were catching everybody, it became beyond frustrating, because I know just two or three different decisions on a restart would have put me miles ahead. I knew that we were going to have to have a well-executed restart. We didn’t do that, and it takes time to get around all of those cars who pass you on a restart, because they are all really good drivers. That’s the difference. I thought we would be better in the day and everyone would catch up at night, but it was the opposite of that. We tried to work on our Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevy throughout the night. We learned a lot. You have to win these races by being very consistent and making the right calls as a driver and as a team. I’m proud of how fast we were at the end of the race.”

Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.

Byron also was the winner of the second 80-lap stage of the race, taking the lead from Truex on the final lap of the stage.

Byron lost multiple positions on pit road during the sixth and final caution of the race for an incident involving Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola with 67 laps to go. But with 58 laps remaining, he retook the lead and ran up front the remaining distance.

“The track changed a lot,” Truex said. “Our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry was really fast at times. At times, a little bit off. On that last run, for whatever reason, I was just babying it. The 24 (Byron) got the lead from me on that restart and then the 5 (Larson) got by us, and I’m just biding my time waiting for them to start coming back to me and they just never did. They, obviously, were really fast at the end and we weren’t quite as good that last run. These things are so hard to win. These cars are so touchy and just needed one more adjustment to have a chance.”

Chris Buescher won the first 80-lap stage after early-race domination from the Team Penske dup of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Logano led the first 12 laps of the race after pole sitter Denny Hamlin dropped to the back for the start of the race because of an unapproved change. Keselowski took the lead on lap 13, and the Penske teammates continued to run first and second before Buescher took the lead on lap 53.

Keselowski retook the lead briefly on a lap-73 restart, but Buescher retook the top position on lap 79 and led the final two laps of the opening stage.

Buescher continued to run up front early in the second stage, and by lap 94, Hamlin was inside the top-10.

Truex was the race leader when a cycle of green-flag pit stops completed on lap 125, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin was up to second. Hamlin remained in second as Byron took the stage-two win. Hamlin, though, wound up in the back, again, as a result of a pit-road speeding penalty during the final caution. The pole sitter wound up 11th at the checkered flag.

Michael McDowell finished sixth, Ryan Newman was seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Alex Bowman ninth, and Kyle Busch finished 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

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Posted by on March 1, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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