NAS: William Byron wins from the pole at Circuit of the Americas

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They say everything is bigger in Texas, but William Byron found out Sunday that it was good to just be better.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver used a fast car and a quick final pit stop to win the NASCAR Cup Series’ first road-course race of 2024, the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Byron passed Ross Chastain with 25 laps left and sat on pit road as his crew serviced his No. 24 Chevrolet three seconds faster than Chastain’s No. 1.

The 26-year-old then roared to his 12th career win in 222 races, beating a charging Christopher Bell by 0.692 seconds.

The season-opening Daytona 500 winner, Byron became the first two-time winner through six 2024 events and won for the first time ever from the pole.

It also marked the second straight season he has multiple wins through the first six races.

“I just feel like when we’re on, we’re firing on all cylinders — whether it’s pit road, strategy, calls on top of the pit box for changes in the car,” said Byron, who led a race-best five times and 43 laps. “We prepared really well this week. (Winning) is difficult. You’ve just got to keep working.”

Bell may have been able to catch Byron, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said it would have been a different story trying to win.

“Obviously, once I got to him it was going to be tough to pass him,” said Bell, who notched his third top-five finish. “William has been really good on the road courses and he was flawless when it mattered today.”

Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman and Tyler Reddick completed the top five.

Making his third Cup start, New Zealand’s Shane Van Gisbergen, who won in Chicago last July, was nabbed for speeding on pit road late in Stage 2 and ended up 21st.

In his 2024 debut, Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi started his No. 50 23XI Racing Toyota 25th and finished 30th after spinning twice.

After winning his first pole of the season and fifth career on a road course, Byron led the 39-car field to the new restart off Turn 20, farther away from the flagstand.

Problems arose immediately for the Toyotas of Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace, who pitted on Lap 2 after contact with each other to start the race.

However, Byron had no problem at all keeping his No. 24 Chevrolet up front as he built a nearly four-second lead after six circuits, with Reddick and Gibbs behind him.

Choosing a strategy that would help at race’s end, most drivers pitted in the final laps before the 15-lap Stage 1 concluded, but Bell, already having won at Phoenix two weeks ago, stayed out to get the maximum bonus points and beat second-place Daniel Suarez.

After Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet spun from contact with Bell’s Toyota, the No. 20 Camry XSE — the only car not to pit — headed for service with six laps to go in Stage 2 while running fifth, setting Bell up with a strategy for two final stops to the end.

Denny Hamlin, last week’s winner at Bristol, stayed out and won his first segment this season and second ever at COTA.

–Field Level Media

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