Byron’s sixth-place finish puts him at a career high of 6th in the points standings
For the first time in 50 years, NASCAR raced on dirt at Bristol – and William Byron exceeded his own expectations. His sixth-place finish puts him at a career high of sixth in the points standings.
Byron showed some speed early in the race, bursting from his eighth-place starting position up to third by lap 15. He fell back to seventh, however, after a restart on lap 46. Byron caused the next caution by making contact with the No. 6 car of Ryan Newman, sending Newman into a spin and collecting Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe in the chain reaction.
Byron’s car avoided damage in the incident, so he restarted on the inside of row three. By the time another caution came out on lap 54 for a six-car accident involving race favorites Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson, Byron still remained back in eighth.
Byron restarted in eighth but moved up to third after a great restart. He would gain one more spot to finish stage one in second, earning nine stage points.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Byron said about the dirt track to FOX broadcaster Clint Bowyer during the stage break, “A lot different than I expected.”
Stage two was a bit more of an adventure for Byron as he was in second or third for most of the first half of it. However, three bad restarts in a row on laps 159, 170 and 192 would dash Byron’s hopes for victory. He would finish stage two in 11th, earning zero stage points.
Byron regrouped to finish the race, however, gradually working his way back toward the front during the final 50-lap sprint to the finish. He weaved his way to seventh before a caution came out with four laps to go for a crash involving Mike Marlar. This set up NASCAR Overtime, which Byron would use to pick up one more spot to seal his sixth-place finish.
Byron will next race April 10 at the historic Martinsville Speedway in nearby Ridgway, Virginia. Martinsville has been a feast-or-famine track for Byron, with a second-place finish coming there in October 2019, but he still holds an average finish there of 21st.
Martinsville is the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit and holds the distinction of being the only track to hold a Cup Series race every year since the series was sanctioned in 1949. It is affectionately known as “the paperclip” due to its long straightaways and tight turns.
Joshua Lipowski is a Sports Reporter. Follow him on Instagram @j_lipowski23