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NASCAR Cup Series: Byron dominates at COTA

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Meghana Sree

Following a degradation-heavy race in Bristol, the Cup Series circuit travelled to Circuit of the Americas for their sixth race of the season and first road course, in which William Byron took the chequered flag first. It was Byron’s second win of the season – becoming the first driver of 2024 to take multiple wins.

At the very first corner, Byron immediately established himself as the one to beat by getting away well up front. However, the mid-pack was a different story. In turn one, Bubba Wallace came into contact with Corey Lajoie. Though Lajoie continued on unhindered, Wallace suffered with car issues for the rest of the race, which pulled him to the back.

The first stage remained caution-free and non-chaotic – even having green flag pit stops take place towards the end. The frontrunners – Byron, Tyler Reddick, and Ty Gibbs – pit, but Phoenix winner Christopher Bell stayed out to take the first stage. He was followed by Atlanta winner Daniel Suarez and Front Row’s Michael McDowell.

For the beginning of the second stage, Bell stayed out to keep track position, but the dominant Byron quickly got by him. 

The incidents began to occur more frequently in the second stage: Wallace, Kamui Kobayashi, and Kyle Larson all had spins in the middle of the stage. However, this stage also remained caution-free.

Like the first stage, the frontrunners made green flag pit stops while those on alternate strategies stayed out. This allowed Bristol winner Denny Hamlin to take the stage two victory, followed by defending champion Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr.

The final stage began with a mistake from the otherwise flawless Byron up to this point. By going wide in turn one, he allowed Ross Chastain and Gibbs to go by him. However, like has been the theme all day, there was little they could do to keep the #24 car behind as he surged back into the lead.

Green flag pit stops began with 24 laps remaining. Alex Bowman – running fourth at the time – was the first taker, followed the next lap by the remaining top three. The early pit call worked for Bowman and the #48 team, as they undercut Gibbs and Chastain to move into second. The lead still remained in the hands of Byron though.

Though caution-free still, spins littered those in the mid-pack. Brad Keselowski, having a rather turbulent race, spun around off Bell. As well, Kobayashi had yet another spin off the nose of Josh Berry. 2020 champion Chase Elliott also had a spin on his own with 14 to go.

With nine laps to go, Gibbs began pressuring Bowman for second, and the following lap, he took the spot from Bowman. He then began to set his sights on leader Byron, but a hard-charging Bell – on fresher tyres from his alternate strategy – started to gain ground on the top three fast. Only one lap later, Bell was past Bowman as well. 

At the three-to-go mark, Bell made his way past teammate Gibbs, too. With a spin from lapped car Noah Gragson requiring Byron to lift, the JGR driver fully began to make his charge to the front.

However, no one could stop Hendrick’s Byron, who took his second win of the season at COTA. He was followed closely by the JGR pair of Bell and Gibbs. Byron’s teammate Bowman capped off a strong day in fourth and Reddick ended up fifth.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR Cup Series action next Sunday, as they head to the three-quarters mile Richmond.


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