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William Byron Drives No. 24 Car to 2024 DAYTONA 500 Win

William Byron drove the No. 24 Chevrolet back to Victory Lane in the DAYTONA 500 for the first time since 2005. (Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Sometimes, it is not about how you start but how you finish as William Byron can attest to after Monday evening’s 66th DAYTONA 500.

The box score shows Byron rolling off from 18th position. However, he started toward the rear as his Hendrick Motorsports team turned to their backup car following a crash in Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 2.

Despite being behind the eight ball for Monday’s race, there was no panic or fear from the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 crew. If anything, the 26-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native was ready for his seventh “Great American Race” start.

Not even a Lap 6 crash involving Harrison Burton, Carson Hocevar, Jimmie Johnson, Kaz Grala, Austin Dillon, Ryan Preece and John Hunter Nemechek curtailed the steady game plan by Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle for maximum points.

In the opening 65 laps, thanks to great pit stop coordination by the Team Chevrolet brigade, Byron finished fifth in Stage 1 while Chase Elliott bested Kyle Larson for the stage victory and 10 stage points. Stage 1 seemed to be a preview of how the crown jewel race would treat the Hendrick brigade.

Once Stage 2 was underway, it became clear that Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric along with Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch were game for a 500 win. Mainly, Blaney showcased his reining Cup champion prowess by winning Stage 2 ahead of Cindric while Byron scored a respectable sixth place finish, netting 11 stage points.

By Stage 3, the intensity picked up at “The World Center of Racing.” Manufacturer loyalties and team alliances started to dissipate with drivers jockeying for the best track position in the final laps.

All things considered, the final stanza looked to be clean until an 18-car accident in Turn 3 on Lap 192 eliminated the likes of Blaney, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Todd Gilliland, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the race’s defending winner, Daniel Suárez and Tyler Reddick, winner of the Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1.

Following a red flag period of 15 minutes and 27 seconds, it was a four-lap dash to the finish with Ross Chastain leading the pack. Not to be outdone, Byron scooted pasted Chastain for the lead on Lap 197 and he did not look back even with a furious field lurking in his trails.

As Byron led the way on the final lap, he was just ahead of Alex Bowman, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, before the decisive caution involving Chastain and Austin Cindric. Due to Byron taking the white flag and leading Bowman at the moment of caution, the 200-lap race ended under yellow flag conditions.

For the first time since 2005, Byron drove the No. 24 Chevrolet entry back to DAYTONA 500 Victory Lane. Before celebrating in Victory Lane, the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion soaked up his latest and biggest win in his Cup career.

“It sounds really damn good! Just thanks to an awesome crowd coming out,” Byron said. “I have so many emotions. Obviously, I hate what happened on the backstretch. I just got pushed and got sideways.”

For what it was worth, Byron’s 11th career Cup win continues to showcase his prowess as a stock car sensation. Not long ago, he was a young racer making a name for himself on the iRacing platform.

“I don’t know, just really good strategy,” he said. “We obviously laid back and tried to save fuel for most of the race. We would get up there at the end of the stages and make some moves. Just thankful for the power under the hood, all of our partners, Chevrolet, and everybody that allows us to do this.

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and now winning the Daytona 500. I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here, he is sick, but this is for him, man. We have been through so much and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched this race. This is so freaking cool.”

Even if second place was bittersweet for Bowman, it was a strong showing for the Tucson native. Following a tough 2023 campaign curtailed by injuries sustained in a High Limit Sprint racing series event in late April, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet ZL1 tipped his cap to his 26-year-old teammate.

“Proud of William and his team – they deserved it there at the end,” Bowman said. “They did all the right things, and I feel like we did too there at the end. Had to go up and block the top lane and that just killed the middle for a bit. We got the middle back rolling and then they all started crashing.

“Just proud of everybody on this No. 48 Ally Chevy team. Super pumped for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports – it’s 40 years to the day since the first HMS race, so really cool to see William in Victory Lane, and obviously a good day for our Ally Camaro, as well.”

Much like in the 1989 DAYTONA 500, car owner Rick Hendrick enjoyed a 1-2 finish when Darrell Waltrip bested Ken Schrader for a popular win. Meanwhile, Christopher Bell earned a sneaky third place finish, a strong podium for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with some fortune on his side.

“Honestly, we got really fortunate,” Bell said. “With those two wrecks, you know. The race was not playing out our way at the end. And after the green flag stop, I was pretty much in the back. But being on the bottom lane, I was able to squeeze by that last wreck.

“I don’t know, we had an awesome Interstate Batteries DEWALT Camry. We showed a lot of pace between the Duel and the early part of the race. When we had track position, we were fast. But I don’t know, didn’t go our way and we need to study it.”

William Byron and his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL team enjoy the 66th DAYTONA 500 win with the Harley J. Earl Trophy. (Photo: Jared Bokaoski | The Podium Finish)

For now, Bell may be studying how Byron won his second consecutive superspeedway race and first ever DAYTONA 500. Truly, Feb. 19, 2024, adds to the best of times for Hendrick Motorsports in their ruby red anniversary season.

“I am just so proud of this team – this whole No. 24 Axalta Chevy team, winning on the 40th anniversary to the day (of Hendrick Motorsports’ first race),” Byron said. “Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities and we just want to keep it going.

“We have a lot to prove this year and this is a good start, obviously. Daytona 500, it’s freaking awesome. Let’s go!”

Stage 1 Top 10 Results
  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Ross Chastain
  4. Alex Bowman
  5. William Byron
  6. Kyle Busch
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Bubba Wallace
  9. Martin TruexJr.
  10. Daniel Suárez
Stage 2 Top 10 Results
  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Austin Cindric
  3. Daniel Suárez
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Tyler Reddick
  6. William Byron
  7. Bubba Wallace
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  9. AJ Allmendinger
  10. Chris Buescher
66th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway Race Results
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 18 24 William Byron Axalta Chevrolet Running
2 7 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet Running
3 4 20 Christopher Bell DEWALT/Interstate Batteries Toyota Running
4 29 7 Corey LaJoie Chili’s Catch-a-Rita Chevrolet Running
5 24 23 Bubba Wallace McDonald’s Toyota Running
6 28 16 AJ Allmendinger (i) Celsius Chevrolet Running
7 10 42 John Hunter Nemechek Dollar Tree Toyota Running
8 11 43 Erik Jones AdventHealth Toyota Running
9 38 10 Noah Gragson Black Rifle Coffee/Ranger Boats Ford Running
10 20 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford Running
11 17 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Running
12 34 8 Kyle Busch Zone Chevrolet Running
13 14 71 Zane Smith (R) WeatherTech Chevrolet Running
14 5 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Running
15 27 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota Running
16 37 31 Daniel Hemric Cirkul Chevrolet Running
17 15 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota Running
18 19 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford Running
19 8 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Toyota Running
20 40 60 David Ragan Ford Running
21 21 1 Ross Chastain Busch Light Chevrolet Running
22 6 2 Austin Cindric Discount Tire Ford Running
23 25 41 Ryan Preece Ford Running
24 36 15 Riley Herbst (i) Monster Energy Ford Running
25 30 4 Josh Berry SunnyD Ford Running
26 22 51 Justin Haley TreeTop Apple Juice/Jacob Ford Running
27 39 62 Anthony Alfredo (i) Death Wish Coffee Running
28 23 84 Jimmie Johnson Carvana Toyota Running
29 3 45 Tyler Reddick Nasty Beast Toyota Accident
30 32 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/PEAK Ford Accident
31 35 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Boost by Kroger.Cottonelle Chevrolet Accident
32 1 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford Accident
33 16 6 Brad Keselowski Castrol Edge Ford Accident
34 13 99 Daniel Suárez Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Accident
35 31 38 Todd Gilliland gener8tor Ford Accident
36 2 34 Michael McDowell Love’s Travel Stops Ford Running
37 33 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Running
38 26 36 Kaz Grala (R) Ruedebusch Ford Accident
39 12 21 Harrison Burton Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford Accident
40 9 77 Carson Hocevar (R) Gainbridge/Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet Accident
Editor’s Notes

This article will be updated with more post-race reactions upon availability from team and OEM representatives.

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He 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, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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