Byron earns Best Road Course Finish

After the dust, debris, smoke and tempers settled, William Byron wheeled his way to a fifth-place finish Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

The road course, known for its place on the Formula One calendar, hosted stock cars for the third consecutive season in an event that saw a wild triple-overtime finish. Though the top-five finish for Byron marks his career best road course finish, the driver of the 24 had more to offer.

Byron’s weekend started Saturday morning, as he turned the fastest lap in qualifying to take his first pole position of the season. Later that day, Byron competed in the Xfinity race, driving the No. 17 car for Hendrick Motorsports. As Saturday’s race progressed, Byron found himself in the tire tracks of renowned road racer AJ Allmendinger. Just as he prepared to pounce, a mistake on the final lap in turn three allowed Allmendinger to pull away, and Byron settled for second.

On Sunday, Byron led the field to green with high hopes. The Liberty University Chevrolet gained separation early, and Byron won stage one. Alternating strategies swapped the lead between Byron and Toyota driver Tyler Reddick until Reddick’s team made a decision to abandon its plan.

Reddick’s No. 45 had speed, however, and he soon drew in on Byron’s back bumper.

The two battled around the 20-turn course, challenging the opponent in the braking zones and throwing crossovers at the adversary nearly every turn until a clever move by Reddick allowed him to claim the lead for good.

Byron did not let Reddick get away, however, and the 24 stalked the 45 while the two attempted to save fuel, manage their lead and click laps away. A caution with 12 laps remaining changed the entire race outlook.

The final laps became cluttered with crashes and cautions. Byron fought valiantly, but with each restart, he slipped further back ultimately to fifth place, where he stayed for the finish.

“We made it a battle for sure, that was a lot of fun,” Byron told media after the race. “We needed a top five. I probably could have done some things different, but overall, (it was) a good day for the Liberty University Chevrolet. Tyler (Reddick) was just so fast all weekend.”

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Richmond Raceway for its next event as William Byron will look to win his third race on the season.

Barnes is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

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