William Byron put on a clinic Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 23-year old led a race-high 102 laps and cruised to his second-career victory.
“This whole team did a phenomenal job,” Byron stated. “Everybody. Pit crew, over the wall. Extremely blessed. Thanks god for all the things it takes to get to this level. Great boss in Mr. H, Jeff Gordon. Axalta, this car looks really cool. I’m just — I can’t even believe it, honestly. Just a really smooth day.”
Over the offseason, Hendrick Motorsports brought in crew chief Rudy Fugle and paired him with Byron. Three races into the pairing, the move is already paying dividends.
“Yeah, that guy has been huge for my career, he’s the reason I’m here,” Byron explained. “You know, I’m glad we could get him. He’s just awesome.”
Byron is now the third different winner in the NASCAR Cup Series through three races in the 2021 season. Along with Byron, Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell have also scored wins to open the season.
While Byron scored the big win, Tyler Reddick stole the show over the closing laps. The Homestead ace, utilized the highest possible line around the race track to move from 10th to second over the final 50 or so laps of the race.
It looked like Reddick, who was consistently the fastest car on the track at the end, would have a shot to run down Byron, but his run stalled out in a battle for second with Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.
For Reddick, second is a good finish, but he’s frustrated that a potential first-career NASCAR Cup Series win didn’t materialize Sunday night.
“Once I really saw how fast we were in clean air at the end there, and I saw how fast we were catching everybody, it’s beyond frustrating,” Reddick said. “Just two or three different decisions on a restart would have put me miles ahead and I would have been within reach. Yeah, second is great, but I saw how much faster I was than those guys at the end. Naturally, it’s frustrating.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished in third behind Byron and Reddick. This marks Truex’s first top-five or top-10 finish of the year.
Kyle Larson, in his third race with Hendrick Motorsports, scored a fourth place finish and Kevin Harvick was fifth.
Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-10 finishers.
By finishing inside the top-10 on Sunday, Harvick and McDowell are now the only two drivers to finish inside the top-10 in every NASCAR Cup Series race so far in 2021.
It looked like Chris Buescher would contend for the win, as the driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford had speed in the first half of the race. Buescher led 57 laps in the race and scored the Stage 1 win. But in the final Stage of the day, Buescher faded to a 19th-place finish.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.