Byron, Chastain’s Late-Race Contact Ends Texas Cup Race

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Contact between William Byron and Ross Chastain on the final lap of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway brought out the race-ending caution. The ensuing caution saw Chase Elliott win, Byron finish third, and Chastain out of the race.

William byron gives a quick debrief after the race saying he had some handling issues in the closing laps at texas motor speedway. Photo by jerry jordan/kickin' the tires
Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires

When Denny Hamlin spun with two laps to go, it pushed the NASCAR Cup Series race into overtime. In the chaotic scrambles, Chastain’s No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 made its’ way into second. Byron, in his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, chose the inside and lined up third behind his Hendrick Motorsports team, Elliott. A crash between Harrison Burton and Kaz Grala on the restart pushed the race into a second overtime.

Byron battled Brad Keselowski as Elliott and Chastain dueled for the lead. Exiting Turn 2, the Trackhouse Racing driver was forced to lift. Keselowski cleared the Team Chevy driver. Byron, on the other hand, clipped Chastain when a block was thrown. That sent the No. 1 first to the inside and then into the outside wall and spinning down the backstretch. That forced NASCAR officials to throw the caution and freeze the field, leaving Byron third.

“I just had a big run. Ross and I race really well, and I didn’t want to wreck him there, but he blocked me late, which is understood,” Byron explained. “It’s racing at the end, but I was already there and unfortunately, we made enough contact to where it got him squirrelly, and it happened. So, I hate that that happened, but it’s the last lap and I had the run, so I am going to just take the run. I didn’t expect it, but I don’t want to do that to a fellow Chevy guy, and we always race really well. 

“Happy for Chase (Elliott) and those guys. They did a great job; executed really well and had a good car. Our No. 24 Liberty University Chevy, we struggled all day and had to fight tooth and nail all day just to keep our track position. We just had a few restarts go our way at the end.”

Chastain declined to comment after being evaluated and released from the infield medical center. He was credited with a 32nd-place finish, out of the race.

Byron’s third-place finish was his fourth top-five finish of the season. It was also his 45th career top-five finish.

Despite the top-five, Byron slipped from fourth to fifth in the points standings, behind race winner Elliott. He is also 38-points behind leader, and Hendrick teammate, Larson. By virtue of three wins this season, Byron is locked into the NASCAR Playoffs.

Next for Byron is the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. In 12 starts at the 2.66-mile track the Charlotte, N.C. native has three top-five and four top-10 finishes. His best finish is a runner-up, twice, in last year’s playoff race and the 2021 Spring race respectively.

The GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway is scheduled for Sunday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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