NASCAR takeaways: William Byron dominates at COTA for second win of 2024


AUSTIN, Texas — William Byron had one of those perfect racing weekends.

Fastest in practice.

Fastest in the final round of qualifying.

Fastest in the race.

Fastest to the finish line.

Byron, who led the Cup Series with six victories in 2023, captured his second victory of the 2024 season in leading 42 of the 68 laps at Circuit of the Americas.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver would have led more laps if he didn’t pit prior to the end of the stages for track position purposes.

It marked the first time in Byron’s career that he won the race from the pole. He was 0-for-12 coming into COTA.

“Thirteen poles and [until now] never won a race,” Byron said. “The expectations get too high, I think.

“This weekend felt like, regardless of where we were starting, we felt like we were going to go out and execute a good race. That is how I tried to stay throughout the weekend. I feel like other times when I qualify on the pole, I get a little excited and start to expect to win. “

Takeaways from COTA on a day when Byron and Christopher Bell were followed across the finish line by Ty Gibbs, Alex Bowman and last year’s winner Tyler Reddick.

Byron A Road-Course Ace?

Byron won for the second time on a road course, with his first coming last summer at Watkins Glen.

He had a mirror full of Bell at the end.

“I was just trying to not make mistakes,” Byron said. “I felt like I made a lot of micro-errors in the last 10 laps.

“I have to calm down a little bit, look back at those 10 laps and think about what could I do better in the car to stay mentally locked in and not get flustered by the mirror.”

His teammate Bowman had a solid day in what is his best road course. Bowman said some of the more veteran drivers have advantages at the road courses the Cup Series has visited for several years but with COTA just in its fourth year on the schedule, he has been able to learn on par with everyone else.

“Not racing against guys with a huge notebook is always good,” Bowman said. “You look at Sonoma and Watkins Glen, a lot of guys have been going there for a really long time.

“It’s always fit me a little bit. I wouldn’t say that first year we were great, but since then, we’ve been really, really good.”

‘When we’re on, we’re firing on all cylinders!’ – William Byron on victory at EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

Eventful Day For Bell

Bell finished second and was gaining on Byron at the end, but his adventurous day ended up one spot short.

Bell had incidents with two of the biggest stars in the sport, spinning both Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch in separate incidents.

Busch came up to Bell afterward and had some words for him.

Bell took the blame for the Larson accident but wasn’t so sure what happened with Busch.

“Larson, I made a mistake and I got into the back of him and spun him out,” Bell said. “But KB, he opened his entry up and tried the crossover where I was running my line.

“Had I known he was going to come across the racetrack, I would have braked a little bit. But I never expected him to do that.”

Christopher Bell talks about his second place finish and incidents with Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson

Corey LaJoie OK After Severe Cramps

Corey LaJoie was on the ground for several minutes after the race and needed two bags of fluids after being carted to the infield medical center after the race.

“Every muscle in my body cramped up … every muscle from the top of my abs to the bottom of my feet just seized right up,” LaJoie said.

“I tried to walk it off, but my feet wouldn’t work, my legs wouldn’t work so I just had to lay down.”

Haley Disqualified

NASCAR disqualified the Justin Haley car after his 17th-place finish. His car failed to meet minimum postrace weight requirements.

The team can appeal the penalty. 

EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix highlights

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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