William Byron wins NASCAR race. Results and takeaways from Homestead

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Alex Andrejev
·6 min read
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Charlotte native William Byron claimed his second win in his Cup Series career Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He led a race-high 102 laps of the 267-lap race and won the second stage of NASCAR’s Dixie Vodka 400.

Tyler Reddick finished second, and Martin Truex Jr. finished third.

“Get used to winning, boys, get used to it,” Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet crew chief Rudy Fugle said on the team’s radio after the win.

The pairing is a new crew chief and driver combination this year. Fugle, new to the Cup Series, and Byron worked together for one year in 2016 for Kyle Busch Motorsports competing in the Truck Series. They are the second new driver-crew chief pairing to win in a row this season after Christopher Bell and crew chief Adam Stevens won together last weekend.

Fugle said they’re not a championship-winning team yet, but the early win bodes well for the No. 24 team.

“Over the next 20-some weeks, we’re gonna become (a championship team),” Fugle said. “So that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Byron smiled.

“Yep. He said it.”

Charlotte native runs Miami

Ford drivers commanded the opening laps, but by the end of the first stage, Hendrick Motorsports drivers were squarely in the picture with William Byron, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott all finishing in the top-10 in that stage. Byron capitalized on an opening for the lead at the end of the second stage, as Denny Hamlin slid high and picked off Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr.

Byron drove the low lane to win the stage. He hung in the top-five for the early laps of the final stage and in the last 60 laps, he made his move to power past leader Truex for the top spot. With fresh air and a fast car, Byron, 23, maintained his first place position through the flag.

Reddick makes late-race challenge

Reddick made a late-race challenge, seemingly coming out of nowhere, after finishing out of the top-10 in the first two stages. But it wasn’t enough to catch up with Byron. Reddick finished almost three seconds behind the winner and gained 10 seconds on the lead in the final 30 laps of the race.

Larson and Truex also had strong performances posting third- and fourth-place finishes.

Reddick was critical of his performance due to his early bottom half finishes this season, however. He placed 27th at the Daytona 500 and 38th at the Daytona road course after he was caught up in crashes.

“We had a really bad start to the year,” Reddick said. “Second’s great, but we’re still way back in the mess, in the mix of it (in points).”

Byron needed the win just as badly. He finished 26th and 33rd, respectively, in the first two races of the season. Sunday was his saving grace. He is now the third different winner in a row to start the 2021 NASCAR season with a win after Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell won the first two races of the year. Byron’s first victory in the series came last year at NASCAR’s regular-season closer at Daytona to clinch a playoff berth.

He secured a playoff spot much earlier this year.

Fresh faces moving forward

Chris Buescher led 57 laps of the race and won the first stage after challenging Brad Keselowski for the final laps before the green-and-white checkered flag.

He had a fast car in the long run, but dropped out of the top 10 in the final stage and finished in 19th. His Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Ryan Newman, finished in seventh.

In addition to Newman and Buescher, who led more laps in a single race this year than in each season of his full-time Cup career, it was Michael McDowell and Reddick who primarily held down top-10 spots in the final stage as unexpected front-runners. Cole Custer also made a late-race appearance in the top 10 but dropped to 23rd place for the flag.

Both McDowell and Custer have each only ever won one Cup race — McDowell’s first win in the series came a few weeks ago at the Daytona 500, in his 14th year of Cup racing, while Custer won at Kentucky last season during his rookie year in the series.

McDowell pulled off a sixth-place finish after finishing eighth last weekend at the Daytona road course.

“To start the season with three top-10s on three very different race tracks, like I said, Daytona, everybody knows anything can happen there, but I’m very proud of my race team,” McDowell said. “We have done a great job of making big gains.”

Quiet night for big names

The evening didn’t quite pan out for Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick fans. A pre-race penalty for unapproved adjustments, and a call by officials just before the start, sent Denny Hamlin to last place from his pole position to start the race.

He climbed back to a second-place finish in the second stage and was racing in the top 10 when a caution came out and he was called for speeding on pit road to send him to the rear for the restart in the last 70 laps. Time was against him at that point. He finished 11th.

Harvick also clawed to a fifth-place finish. He placed out of the top 10 in the first stage and finished seventh in the second stage. Despite the top-five result, it was a relatively silent night for last year’s regular season winner and strong intermediate track driver.

Unofficial NASCAR race results from Homestead

Order

Driver

Car No.

Time from leader

1

William Byron

24

--

2

Tyler Reddick

8

2.777

3

Martin Truex Jr.

19

3.989

4

Kyle Larson

5

4.229

5

Kevin Harvick

4

7.508

6

Michael McDowell

34

8.242

7

Ryan Newman

6

13.039

8

Kurt Busch

1

14.975

9

Alex Bowman

48

16.929

10

Kyle Busch

18

18.143

11

Denny Hamlin

11

18.509

12

Austin Dillon

3

18.701

13

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

47

19.167

14

Chase Elliott

9

19.561

15

Daniel Suárez

99

19.815

16

Brad Keselowski

2

21.565

17

Ross Chastain

42

22.395

18

Chase Briscoe #

14

22.444

19

Chris Buescher

17

24.961

20

Christopher Bell

20

25.54

21

Ryan Preece

37

25.988

22

Bubba Wallace

23

27.234

23

Cole Custer

41

28.396

24

Anthony Alfredo #

38

29.969

25

Joey Logano

22

30.379

26

Justin Haley(i)

77

-1

27

Erik Jones

43

-1

28

Matt DiBenedetto

21

-1

29

Ryan Blaney

12

-1

30

Aric Almirola

10

-3

31

Garrett Smithley(i)

53

-4

32

Cody Ware(i)

51

-6

33

Josh Bilicki

52

-8

34

BJ McLeod(i)

78

-9

35

Quin Houff

0

-9

36

Corey LaJoie

7

-116

37

James Davison

15

-206

38

Timmy Hill(i)

66

-246

(i) ineligible for driver points, # rookie