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William Byron “Couldn’t Close The Gap” At Iowa

William Byron scored his sixth top-five of the season at Iowa Speedway. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

William Byron scored his sixth top-five of the season at Iowa Speedway. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

NEWTON, Iowa – When the opportunity came, William Byron just ran out of time.

After running in the top-five almost all night long, the seventh-year driver made his way to second behind Ryan Blaney on the final run. Despite closing in within a half-second of the defending champion, Byron could get no closer and settled for the runner-up finish in the inaugural Iowa Corn 350 at Iowa Speedway.

“It felt like when I got 15-or-so laps on my tires, I just couldn’t close the gap,” Byron told reporters after the race. “From lap 20-55 or 60, I just didn’t really close the gap and I feel like that’s what I needed to pounce on him and try to get clean air.”

Coming into the race, Byron had scored a top-five and three top-10s in nine inaugural NASCAR Cup Series races, but coming to Iowa was cause for excitement. He scored wins at the track in both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the Xfinity win being the first in his career.

Byron benefitted from dysfunctional practice and qualifying sessions to start the race in fourth, where he managed to finish an opening stage that saw two crashes.

After a caution late in the second stage, Byron found himself restarting in second to the inside of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on lap 189, with a possibility to score a stage point.

Instead, Byron got aero-loose underneath the No. 47 and slid outside of the top-10 as the stage concluded.

However, heavy tire wear meant that pit strategies were wide-ranging, allowing Byron a shot to recover.

William Byron is fourth in NASCAR Cup Series points. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

William Byron is fourth in NASCAR Cup Series points. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | The Podium Finish)

Byron was in the discussion for the car to bear along the likes of Blaney and Hendrick teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. After Larson was collected in a wreck with Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez early in the third stage, the race began to open up.

Following the wreck, Byron made his way back to third behind Josh Berry and Blaney before Chris Buescher brought out the caution on lap 261.

Following pit stops, he restarted third, this time behind Blaney and Joey Logano. As Byron battled Logano and Stenhouse Jr. for second, Blaney opened up the lead.

As the race ended on an 84-lap run, Blaney had just enough juice left to get through lap traffic and maintain a lead. As Byron started to make a charge in the final 15 laps, it was just not enough.

The second-place finish is Byron’s sixth top-five, his first runner-up to go along with three wins.

“We had a lot of long-run speed early in the race, but we were struggling on the short run,” Byron said. “It seemed like by the end of the race, everyone came closer together and we didn’t have the advantage anymore.

“Just a treacherous night. The restarts were really sketchy for a lap or so because the tires don’t have any grip and the repaved surface. It was definitely interesting out there, trying to manage that.”

Through 17 races in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, Byron sits fourth in points, a spot behind where he sat at this point a year ago.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the northeast for the U.S.A. Today 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In six starts, Byron has never scored a top-10 in Loudon, despite having a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at the track.

Harry Loomis is a 23-year old co-managing editor of The Podium Finish. He joined TPF in September 2023, having previously written for his own racing outlet. He graduated from Missouri Western State University in May 2023, earning his degree in Convergent Journalism. At Missouri Western, Loomis became the Sports Director of Griffon Media, becoming a trusted member of the student newspaper and weekly newscasts. A passionate race fan since age six, Loomis is originally from St. Charles, MO, and is a big NHL and MLB fan.

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