MARTINSVILLE, VA ( Associated Press) — William Byrne knew he was in for a bigger challenge with a two-lap overtime sprint about to begin and the very aggressive Joey Logano just behind him.
He also felt he had a very remarkable co-pilot in his corner.
“This is for my mother,” Byron said. “Last year this weekend she had a mini-stroke of sorts and was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her being here means a lot and it’s been a crazy year. But she’s doing great. I felt like She’s riding there with me.”
Byron took the lead on the pit road after Stage 2 halted and held it pretty much the rest of Martinsville Speedway—he led 212 laps—to become the first repeat winner of this season in NASCAR’s Cup Series on Saturday night .
Byron needed a challenge – and a nudge – from Logano on a two-lap overtime sprint to finish it, but won for the fourth time in his career and gave Hendricks Motorsports four victories in eight races this season.
When the final caution, and only second to the on-track issue of the night, came with five laps to go, Byrne and the seven drivers behind him opted to hold out for the final dash.
“I thought everyone behind us would pit, and luckily we stayed out,” he said. “We were aggressive; We thought we could re-fire the tires and be fine, and you’ve got one of the most aggressive guys in Logano. ,
Byrne had both a fast car that allowed him to restart and pull off a strong one on the long runs, important because there was no caution for anything until the 311th stage of lap 400 on the 0.526-mile oval. ,
That changed when Todd Gilliland had a flat tire and hit the wall with five laps to go. Byron and the top eight cars on the track opted not to pit, Byron chose the inside lane and Austin Dillon, in second place, driving on the outside.
This gave Logano a prime opportunity to get the leader out of the way, especially as Dillon rolled his tires on restart. Logano hit Byron on the last lap at Turn 2, but Byron held on for his second win of the weekend. He won the Truck Series on Thursday night, earning him the raceway’s unique Grandfather Clock trophies for three days of solid racing.
Logano said, “Willie messed up the 4 and let me go to him, and he did a really good job of brake checking, which is a good job.” “He did what he was supposed to do, and I got everything behind him and I couldn’t accelerate from the corner and be as close as I needed to be.”
Logano was in second place, followed by Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain.
It appeared that Dillon was likely to have the challenger car on a long green-flag run, and beat Logano for second with 80 laps to go on the restart, but after Byron was driven away, Traffic and consistency helped him hold a nearly three-second lead.
The start of the race was delayed by over an hour when rain and hail fell on an already chilly night. It was going with the radar that more rain was coming, maybe even some snow, but none materialized.
It all conspired to provide a clean track, and a virtual single-file parade.
Pole-sitter Chase Elliott led the first 185 laps, winning the first and second stages for the fifth time in his career, but lost the lead in a caution stop after Stage 2 and trouble went on as the night went on. He finished 10th.
Elliott’s 185 laps led to the start of the race that Darrell Waltrip did at the start of the 1980 race in Martinsville. Waltrip, however, won.
After a victory at Richmond Raceway and another at the short track where he leads all active drivers with five wins, any hope he brought to Martinsville was slowly taken away. He qualified in 25th place, was lapped by Elliott at the end of Stage 1 and made laps in the back of the field and finished 28th.
The rest of Joe Gibbs Racing did not do much better, although Kyle Busch finished seventh. Martin Truex Jr., who had won three of the last five races here, finished 22nd and Christopher Bell finished 20th.
The top series moves to its third straight short track on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway next Sunday.
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