Mastering Martinsville: William Byron rebounds after Richmond for win at the Martinsville Speedway

William Byron entered the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond on Easter Sunday with a touch of uncertainty.   

“(Richmond is) just one of those places we go to that we just don’t have an idea of how it’s going to go,” Byron told media prior to the race. “We’ve had some good races here, but we’ve never showed up here knowing that we can run, you know, easy top 10 or compete for a win.”

Despite a rather uninteresting outing from the Hendrick Motorsports racer donning the Liberty University car, Byron managed to secure a seventh-place finish, his fourth top 10 placing of the season. Denny Hamlin was the topic of conversation at the end of the night, following a late caution flag that led to Hamlin’s 53rd win and fifth at Richmond. 

“This is all pit crew — this is a team win, for sure,” Hamlin said. “This trophy needs to go to each of these pit crew members. They did an amazing job and have been killing it all year.”

William Byron’s pit crew was instrumental in his
Martinsville performance | Photo by Noah Seidlitz

Bubba Wallace made contact with Kyle Larson with just two laps remaining, giving Hamlin a restart opportunity that the racer seized. Hamlin surged ahead of Martin Truex Jr. down the backstretch, claiming the win with Truex ultimately falling to fourth.   

Byron spent 80.8% of the race in the top 15, failing to lead any laps but still posting a solid showing. 

The next stop for Byron was the Cook Out 400 in Martinsville April 7 — a race that would be critical in boosting his current standing of seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series. The last time Byron graced the Martinsville Speedway, he posted a lackluster finish of 23rd, with his fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Larson taking the win.   

But with Hendrick Motorsports celebrating its 40th anniversary on race day, the stage was set for a historic outing. 

Byron came away with an emphatic win after an overtime restart, taking first with his teammates Larson and Chase Elliott finishing just behind him. It’s the first time any team has accomplished a 1-2-3 victory at Martinsville.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Byron said. “We’ve been struggling at the short tracks. (I) just kept inching up on it. I (have) a great team. They just kept my head in it. It stunk to do a restart there at the end like that, but that’s the way it goes.”

After pitting with 103 laps remaining at NASCAR’s shortest track, Byron and his crew had to weather the storm of John Hunter Nemechek’s blown tire with just three laps remaining. While Larson and Elliott were nipping at the heels of their teammate, Byron held off the charge and remained at the front of the pack for his third NASCAR Cup Series win of the season. 

“Congrats to William, he did a really good job,” Larson told media after the race. “He schooled us all after that green-flag stop.”

The next stop for Byron is the Texas Motor Speedway, with the qualifying round set to begin April 12 at 8:30 p.m.    

Cory is the sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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