William Byron took the lead in NASCAR Cup Series victories in 2023 with his win at Darlington Raceway on Sunday (May 14). It’s Byron’s third of the year.
The Jeff Gordon-inspired No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet inherited the lead after a wreck-filled final 15 laps. Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson appeared to have it all under control coming to the very end, but the two took each other out in turn 1 to set up the overtime finish.
“It’s pretty amazing. My grandad passed away on Thursday, man I wish my family could be here. Things have a way of working out, honestly, and they just worked out that way today,” an emotional Byron told Fox Sports 1 post-race.
Byron was leading on the final lap at Darlington in this race last season when Joey Logano gave him the bumper and passed him for the win.
Chastain and Larson’s accident followed a huge multi-car incident that took out the other dominant car of the race, the No. 19 of Martin Truex Jr. Truex led the most laps and won stage one, but his troubles began at the end of stage two when he and Chastain were racing hard for the stage win, and Truex spun off the side of the No. 1.
Kevin Harvick finished runner-up, and Chase Elliott brought his car home in third. It’s Elliott’s best finish since returning from injury. Both cars were involved in the huge pileup that preceded the Larson and Chastain incident. Brad Keselowski was also involved in that crash and finished fourth, followed by Bubba Wallace rounding out the top five.
“We had a good car all day we just could never get toward the front, and our Sunny Delight Mustang struggled in traffic today…ended up having everything work out there at the end. Didn’t have anything for William, front’s tore up pretty good,” Harvick earnestly explained to FOX Sports.
The race was fairly calm until the very end, where three caution periods occurred in the last 15 laps. Overall, there were eight total caution flags.
Truex won stage one and Chastain won stage two. However, neither of them finished the race. Larson, meanwhile, brought No. 5 to the finish line in 20th.
“I wanted to push him up for sure, but definitely didn’t want to turn myself,” Chastain told Fox Sports.
Larson declined to comment on the incident between the two.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time since 1996 for the 2023 All-Star festivities. Coverage begins on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
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