Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Byron Rights No. 24 Team’s Ship, Wins at Las Vegas

Everybody rock their Raptor hats right like William Byron. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

Everybody rock their Raptor hats right like William Byron. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

LAS VEGAS – It was only a matter of time before William Byron and the No. 24 team returned to Victory Lane.

By time, it was only a matter of 330 days for the 25-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native.

Despite ranking 29th before Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year liked his chances.

Qualifying in second place, Byron wasted little time making his presence known as the leader. By Lap 10, the sixth year racer took the lead from Joey Logano, the race’s pole sitter.

Aside from pit stop cycles, Byron dominated the third race of the 2023 season, sweeping Stages 1 and 2.

At one point, Byron led from Laps 41 to 185, a genuinely impressive feat in today’s Next Gen era. Perhaps the only hiccup in Byron’s nearly flawless performance was an 84-lap dryspell from the number on spot.

During those laps, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson took their turns as the leader of the race. As for Byron, it was about maximizing the afternoon regardless of running position.

Byron’s big break was Aric Almirola’s Turn 4 misfortunes on Lap 265, prompting the race’s final caution period.

For a while, Sunday's Pennzoil 400 appeared to be a Hendrick showdown between Byron and Larson. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

For a while, Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 appeared to be a Hendrick showdown between Byron and Larson. (Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

Like Larson and a majority of the lead contenders, Byron and his No. 24 team opted for fresh right sides for maximum track position.

In this case, it was only a matter of time before Byron willed his Camaro back into the lead. By 0.622 seconds, the North Carolinian defeated Larson for the first win of the year.

While Byron showcased his ability to hold a pretty wheel, he sang his praises for his hardy pit crew.

“I’ve been really confident about this group of guys on the 24 team,” Byron said. “They work extremely hard. We spent a lot of time in the offseason just going through and running at the sim with Chevy and running on iRacing and just trying to get better as a racecar driver and as a team. It’s all about the team. It’s a great pit crew.”

That familial spirit embedded within the Hendrick Motorsports campus was not lost with Byron’s thoughts, particularly toward Chase Elliott,

“We’re also thinking of Chase (Elliott) back home,” he said. “We wish he was out here. He’s a great racecar driver and great teammate. I wish he was out there. Thanks to Mr. H (Rick Hendrick) and Jeff Gordon. I know he’s watching. This Chevy was awesome.

“When we got back in traffic, it was a little tight but we knew we had speed so just had to have the right things play out. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) made a good call, so it was good.”

As Byron soaked in his fifth career Cup victory, Larson could not help but think about what if regarding the victory.

For the second time in three years, Bowman was a part of a Hendrick 1-2-3 finish.(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

“We did a good job today but their pit crew was a little faster on the last stop,” Larson said. “A bummer. But all in all, I’m happy and proud of the effort from our Hendrick team. I’m looking forward to getting to Phoenix next week.”

Rounding out Hendrick’s podium finish sweep was Alex Bowman. Like Larson, Bowman could not help but consider the possibilities of a Las Vegas victory.

“Our Ally Camaro was really good, especially in Stage 2,” Bowman said. “I just asked for the wrong adjustments probably. I’m excited with the way the year has started and hopefully we keep the momentum rolling next week at Phoenix.”

Like Gordon’s start in 1996, Byron considered the early season adversities that have subsided with a win in the third race of 2023.

“It’s been tough. Honestly, we started out and speed in the first two races but we just didn’t put it all together. We had speed at the (Daytona) 500 and had speed at California and had some issues. So it just worked out. It’s awesome,” Byron said.

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series