Byron dominated throughout, leading 176 laps of 270. Byron also won both stages.
With Chase Elliott out with a leg injury, the Hendrick Motorsports teams rallied and brought home a 1-2-3 finish for the third time in the team’s history.
A smiling Byron spoke with Jamie Little of FOX Sports after his win and was very complimentary of his pit crew they got him out ahead of Larson on the final restart.
“This Raptortough.com Chevy was awesome,” Byron said. “Honestly, when we got back in traffic, it was a little bit tight, but we knew we had speed so we just had to have the right things play out, and Rudy made a good call, so it was good.”
After Aric Almirola hit the turn 4 wall with four laps to go, the race went into overtime. Larson had the lead at the time but couldn’t beat Byron’s No. 24 off of pit road. Martin Truex Jr. stayed out.
It’s Larson’s best finish through three races after he was 18th in the Daytona 500 and 29th at Auto Club Speedway.
“I thought I did a really good job getting to my [pit] sign and getting to the commitment line,” Larson said. “I had a gap to William behind me and their pit crew must have just did a really good job and got out in front of us, and that gave up the front row to us. I knew I was in trouble with the [No.] 19 staying out. I felt like William was going to get by him.
“Yeah, just a bummer that we didn’t end up the winner, but all in all, William probably had a little bit better car than I had today, and their pit crew executed when they needed to there at the end.”
The ensuing restart was chaotic as usual, with Denny Hamlin suffering the most and getting shuffled out of the top 10. Byron was able to muscle his way past Truex quickly and sailed away with his fifth career win.
Truex finished in seventh for his troubles after his Hail Mary attempt panned.
Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell rounded out the top five. Austin Cindric was sixth, Justin Haley had a much-needed good run finishing eighth, Kevin Harvick was ninth and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10.
Josh Berry had an eventful day filling in for Elliott as he ran the No. 9 Chevrolet into the wall and was slow all day in his first race in the Next Gen car, finishing 29th.
“Honestly I had fun, I think the first half of the race went really well, we were pretty close to staying on the lead lap or not and just needed a couple of cautions to give ourselves a better chance. Second half we had some kind of throttle issue and I was really just nursing it home after that,” Berry told FOX Sports.
“Yeah, he did,” Logano said matter-of-factly after he left the infield care center, “but it’s racing. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it. It is what it is. We got fenced.” The defending series champion started the day on pole, but was never really a factor as he slapped the wall and was relegated to the back half of the top 10 for much of the day.
Last week’s winner, Kyle Busch, cooled off some with a 14th-place run after early wall contact.
The NASCAR Cup Series continues its West Coast swing by visiting Phoenix Raceway next Sunday (Mar. 12) at 3:30 ET on FOX.
About the author
Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia, he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.
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