By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
It’s tough to win a race. Any race. Especially when we’re talking about a NASCAR Cup Series race with a lot of talented competitors.
William Byron came up short in 97 Cup Series races. However, in the final race before the start of the 2020 playoffs, the Hendrick Motorsports driver picked up his first win at historic Daytona International Speedway at Daytona Beach, Florida.
He won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday night. Not only was this his first Cup Series win, but the win also helped Byron clinch a spot in the NASCAR playoffs.
“I’m just extremely blessed and this is incredible,” Byron said. “It’s been a hard couple of years in the Cup Series and trying to get my first win and gel with this team. These guys did an awesome job [Saturday night] and got us in the Playoffs and it’s amazing. This is probably the hardest track to points-race.
“We had a great Stage 2 and kind of got back in the pack and got shuffled when everyone went single file. I thought my hopes were up there. And we were racing around the No. 21 (DiBenedetto) and the No. 48 (Johnson) in the final stage and I was like, ‘man, I’ve to really make something happen. Luckily, I was able to push the No. 43 (Bubba Wallace) and he and the No. 22 (Joey Logano) made some contact and opened up a hole for me and I wasn’t going to lift. IT was awesome.”
Byron is joined in the playoff by Matt DiBenedetto. Legendary driver Jimmie Johnson did not make the playoffs in his final full-time season.
“First and foremost, congratulations to my teammate for getting his first Cup win like that,” Johnson said. “This setting and the drama that goes into it, that’s a big win for [crew chief] Chad Knaus and William Byron, really happy for those guys. I really feel like we had a way to transfer to win or point our way in the way it went the first two stages and things just got ugly in Turn 1. Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.
“We had a really good car and last couple months we’ve been really getting our act together and running well. Really disappointed to not be in the Playoffs. That was the number one goal to start the year.”
Chase Elliott finished second, while Denny Hamlin was third.
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