Summary: William Byron has a great run during the overtime restart to win the Martinsville spring race
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The first NASCAR Cup Series night race at Martinsville Speedway was a doddle for Hendrick Motorsports, until a late caution sent the race into overtime.
But William Byron survived a late restart and white-flag lap mistake to win Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 on the 0.526-mile short track.
Byron led 212 of the 403 laps. His teammate and polesitter Chase Elliott led the first 185 tracks, when Hendrick Motorsports surpassed 10,000 laps led at Martinsville, becoming the first Cup organization to reach that prodigious number at a single track.
At the end of two-lap extra time, Byron crossed the finish line 0.303 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Logano, who I couldn’t get close enough to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet into the final corner to make a move for the win.
Byron, who also won Thursday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, is the first driver to win two events this season. Saturday night’s Cup victory was the first at Martinsville and the fourth of his career.
With his parents in his box throughout the race, Byron dedicated the victory to his mother.
“When the final caution came out (for Todd Gilliland brushing against the Turn 4 wall on Lap 393), I thought
everyone behind us would pit,” Byron said. “Fortunately, we stayed out, we were aggressive. We felt like we could shoot the tires again and be fine.
“You have one of the most aggressive guys behind you in Logano. I hit the tires on (turns) 3 and 4 (on the white flag lap) and left the bottom open, but was able to block my exit to get a good boost (the corner).
“This is for my mom. This same weekend last year, he kind of had a mini stroke and was diagnosed with brain cancer. It means a lot to have her here, and she’s been a crazy year, but she’s doing great, and thank you all for her support. I felt like she was riding there with me. It’s great to have her here, and I’m definitely going to enjoy her this.”
Logano had mixed emotions after the race. The solid run for second place was gratifying, but he was second, not first, and he extended his winless streak to 37 races.
“That final restart there, he had a front row,” Logano said. “That’s what you can ask for. I was cleared to second, and Willy screwed up on (Turn) 4 and let me get to him, and he did a really good job of checking the brakes… He did what he was supposed to do, and he caught me. everyone bunched up behind him, and he couldn’t get up to speed around the corner and get as close as he needed to be in 3 to execute the old hit-and-run.
“I couldn’t get to him, but his corner tackle was also very strong, which I think allowed him to come in quite hard. Overall, the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang had a solid run. I hate being so close to winning and not making it happen. But today’s big points, and they just hurt. The second one just sucks sometimes, that’s all.”
Austin Dillon was a solid third behind Logano, with Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain taking fourth and fifth, respectively.
Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Elliott rounded out the top 10. Elliott leads the series standings by three points over second-place Blaney. Byron is third, 12 points behind.
Elliott won the first two stages, but Byron won the race out of pit road under caution at the second stage break and stayed in front for 118 laps until he reached pit road during a cycle of flag stops. green midway through the final stage.
Blaney held the lead for five laps before making his last stop, and Byron regained the lead when Blaney hit pit road on lap 308.
After completing the green flag cycle, NASCAR called the third caution of the race when Denny Hamlin’s mishandling car was stopped on pit road. Byron retained control of the race after the subsequent restart on lap 325, with Austin Dillon passing Joey Logano for second.
That was the last caution until the final caution on lap 393. The four total cautions, with two for stage stoppages, were the fewest in a Cup race at Martinsville since 1997. Saturday night’s race was shortened from 500 to 400 laps. .
Up next for the Cup Series is the second gravel race at Bristol Motor Speedway next Sunday (7 pm ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Logano won the inaugural event in 2021.
NOTE: NASCAR inspection completes Cup Series garage without issue, confirming William Byron as the race winner. Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and Erik Jones’ No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet will be taken back to the NASCAR Research and Development Center for further inspection, which is not unusual.