William Byron picked up the second win of his NASCAR Cup Series career Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and dominated along the way.
Byron led the final 58 laps and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. While his margin of victory was 2.7 seconds on Tyler Reddick, at times, Byron led by over five seconds. The winning pass was made when Byron overtook Martin Truex Jr. a few laps after the final restart of the Dixie Vodka 400.
The win clinches Byron a playoff spot for the third consecutive season. It is the first Cup Series win for Byron with new crew chief Ryan ‘Rudy’ Fugle, who took over for Chad Knaus this season. It is the first win at the Cup level for Fugle.
“That guy has been huge for my career,” said Byron of Fugle. “He’s the reason I’m here, and I’m glad we could get him. He’s just awesome. This whole team did a phenomenal job. Everybody. The pit crew, over the wall, we’re extremely blessed. Thanks, God, for all the things that it takes to get to this level.
“Great boss in Mr. Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, and Axalta. This car looks really cool. I can’t even believe it, honestly. It was just a really smooth day. And we worked hard in the winter on this track. I can’t believe it.”
Fugle is three races into his career as a Cup Series crew chief.
“Get used to winning, boys,” Fugle said on the No. 24 team radio after the checkered flag. “Get used to it!”
Reddick came up one spot short in a spectacular charge to the front. He ran eighth with 25 laps to go, but began making up time by going to the top of the track and cut down over 10 seconds on the leaders to finish second.
Truex finished third, and Kyle Larson finished fourth. Kevin Harvick finished fifth.
Michael McDowell finished sixth to earn his third consecutive top-10 finish after winning the Daytona 500. It is the first time in McDowell’s career that he has started the year with three straight top 10s.
“To make a big jump like we did, I wouldn’t say that it’s a completely unbelievable shock, but it’s pretty close to it,” said McDowell. “We have definitely outperformed where we thought we’d be.”
Ryan Newman finished seventh, and Kurt Busch finished eighth. For Busch, it was a rebound after pitting from fourth-place because of a loose left-front wheel with 40 laps to go.
Alex Bowman finished ninth, and Kyle Busch completed the top 10. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin, who started at the rear of the field because of unapproved adjustments after inspection, finished 11th. Hamlin was penalized for speeding when pitting under the final caution on lap 201.
The final caution was for a collision between Aric Almirola and Ryan Blaney. Almirola came up the track and into the left side of Blaney as Blaney was charging on the outside lane in Turn 3.
Chris Buescher won the first stage. Byron won the second stage.
Byron, who started 31st, also led a race-high 102 of 267 laps.