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NASCAR Cup Series: Byron undercuts the rest to Martinsville victory

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


Despite a late restart, few could stop William Byron and Hendrick Motorsports on their way to victory at Martinsville. Not only was this Byron’s third win of the season – putting him as the winningest driver so far – but it was also Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary.


From pole position, Hendrick’s Kyle Larson got away well and solidified his spot in first, followed by Bubba Wallace. In an unusual fashion for Martinsville, the first stage was clean and featured no cautions. This meant the two-time winner this season, William Byron, had to make up his deficit on-track, and he did so, finishing the stage eighth. 


Up front, despite challenges from Bubba Wallace on the last lap of the stage, Larson cruised comfortably to stage victory, followed closely by Wallace. Larson’s teammate Chase Elliott rounded out the top three.


Prior to the beginning of the green flag, pit road during the stage break saw many incidents. Firstly, 2023 Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr got turned while racing into his pit stall, while two-time champion Kyle Busch left his pit stall with the fuel can still attached. Lastly, Todd Gilliland left his box with a wedge wrench. However, only the latter was penalised.


Leading the field to the beginning of stage two was two-time champion Joey Logano, and he proved how pivotal track position was. Despite only taking two tyres in pit road, he maintained the lead strongly off the restart.


However, the first caution flag was flown a little later on lap 113, as Phoenix winner Christopher Bell suffered a wheel failure. This sent him into the wall and put debris on the track.


For the drop of the green flag, Logano maintained the lead once more, ahead of an unchanged top four: Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson. But the three behind Logano had been following closely behind with the help of lapped car Austin Dillon, and it allowed a pathway to open up for Hamlin, who passed both Wallace and Logano. 


The second stage ended as such, with Hamlin winning stage two followed by Bubba Wallace and Chase Elliott. After Logano lost the lead, it was damage limitation for the Penske crew, as he fell all the way down to fifth.

The final stage began differently, as Chase Elliott took the lead from Hamlin, and decisively led for a number of laps until the caution came out on lap 203. In turn four, Christopher Bell went for a spin, further compounding a poor day. 


On the restart, Elliott got away well yet again. Further into the run, though, Hamlin caught up to Elliott and managed to take the lead after a long side-by-side battle. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led until lap 297 when green flag cycles began with William Byron. After everything cycled through, Byron ended up taking the lead – proving the undercut to be strong strategically.


From lap 300 and on, Byron dominated the race ahead of teammates Elliott and Larson. Everything seemed to be falling into place on Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary race until three laps to go, where John Hunter Nemechek lost his brakes going into turn three and crashed, bringing out the caution for an overtime restart.


However, nothing – not even an overtime restart – could stop Hendrick and William Byron, as they rallied to their third victory of the season. Kyle Larson snuck by Chase Elliott for second, capping off a 1-2-3 finish. 


With a strong car all day, Bubba Wallace took his 23XI Toyota to fourth. Defending champion Ryan Blaney quietly drove to a fifth-place finish followed by Penske teammate Joey Logano in sixth.

Wallace’s 23XI teammate Tyler Reddick finished in seventh, followed by fourth Hendrick car Alex Bowman in eighth. The Stewart-Haas duo of Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top ten.


Catch the next round of NASCAR action next Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, on April 14th.


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