Byron dominates for second Cup victory of 2024 at COTA

From starting on the pole position to racing his way to Victory Lane, William Byron rebounded from a four-race streak of not finishing in the top five to claiming his second NASCAR Cup Series victory of the 2024 season in the fourth annual EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on Sunday, March 24. 

“I feel like I made a lot of mistakes in the last 10 laps, just little micro errors and Christopher [Bell] was really fast there on the longer run,’’ Byron said on FOX. “This sport is just so hard and it’s so difficult week in and week out to show up and have fast cars. We’ve had a little bit of a rough stretch the last few weeks, but just put a lot of preparation in this past week and just thankful for the team I have around me and all the people back home as well. Just super thankful to have this opportunity. It’s just a lot of fun to win races and it’s really difficult, too. We’re gonna enjoy this one.’’ 

The 2024 Daytona 500 champion from Charlotte, North Carolina, led five times for a race-high 42 of 68 scheduled laps in an event where he led the field to the green flag from pole position. After leading the first 12 laps before surrendering the top spot to pit under green as part of a strategic move, Byron would cycle back to the lead on three additional occasions throughout the event, with his latest occurring on Lap 44 after he overtook Ross Chastain for the top spot.

Then after both pitting and beating Chastain off of pit road first in what would be the start of the final cycle of green flag pit stops with 24 laps remaining, Byron returned to the lead with 17 laps remaining. He would then fend off a late charge from Christopher Bell to become the first repeat winner of the 2024 season with his first victory at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, March 23, Byron secured his first Cup pole position of the 2024 season after posting a pole-winning lap at 129.636 mph in 94.696 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Ty Gibbs, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 129.651 mph in 94.685 seconds. 

Prior to the event, the following names that included Chris Buescher, Timmy Hill and Ryan Preece dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries. 

When the green flag waved and the event commenced, Byron and Gibbs battled for the lead as the field fanned out entering the first uphill turn. With Byron retaining the lead despite nearly missing the first turn, Tyler Reddick moved into the runner-up spot as he settled behind Byron while Gibbs battled teammate Christopher Bell and Corey LaJoie to retain third place. Byron would lead through a series of left and right-hand turns from Turns 2 to 9 as the field continued to fan out and jostle for early positions.  

Amid the battles, Byron would continue to lead from Turn 10 to 19 as he navigated his way to Turn 20 and returned to the frontstretch to lead the first lap. By then, Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex Jr. pitted under green after both made contact with Corey LaJoie off Turn 11.  

With the field remaining under green flag conditions, Byron would retain the lead by more than a second over Reddick and continue to lead by the fifth lap mark. Behind, Ty Gibbs trailed in third place ahead of teammate Bell and Ross Chastain while Austin Cindric, Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott were scored in the top 10. By then, Harrison Burton had plummeted below the leaderboard after he got bumped and sent for a spin by Ryan Preece in Turn 1. 

Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Byron extended his advantage to more than two seconds over Ty Gibbs followed by teammate Bell while Reddick dropped to fourth place ahead of Chastain. By then, Allmendinger was in sixth ahead of Kyle Busch and Hamlin while Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez were in the top 10. 

A few laps later, green flag pit stops commenced as Reddick, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher, Preece and Harrison Burton pitted. Amid the pit stops, Chase Briscoe served a pass-through penalty for cutting the corners in Turn 4. A multitude of names including Hamlin, Busch, Elliott and Shane van Gisbergen would pit during the proceeding laps before Byron surrendered the lead to pit on Lap 13. With Byron leading, Bell, who had yet to pit, cycled into the lead. 

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 15, Bell captured his second Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Suarez trailed in second followed by Michael McDowell, Cindric, Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., all of whom have yet to pit, while Byron, Gibbs, Reddick and Chastain ended up in the top 10. 

Under the stage break, select names that included Suarez, Dillon, Stenhouse, Daniel Hemric, Brad Keselowski and Kaz Grala pitted while the rest led by Bell and McDowell remained on the track. 

The second stage period started on Lap 18 as Bell and McDowell occupied the front row. Bell and McDowell battled for the lead through the first uphill turn as the field fanned out. With Byron nearly making contact with Bell through the turn, the latter retained the lead entering Turn 2. Byron overtook McDowell for the runner-up spot as McDowell went wide through the first turn while Gibbs and Reddick battled for fourth place,

Bell continued to lead through a series of left and right-hand turns from Turns 2 to 9 before he navigated through a hard braking, left-hand turn in Turn 11. With Bell leading the field back to the frontstretch, Byron retained second ahead of Reddick and Gibbs while Chastain occupied fifth place in front of Larson, Busch, Elliott, McDowell and Alex Bowman. 

Two laps later, Byron battled and cycled past Bell from Turns 12 to 19 to reassume the lead. By then, Wallace was trying to rally from being spun by Brad Keselowski in Turn 15. More on-track carnage would ensue during the proceeding laps as rookie Josh Berry spun in Turn 11 while Larson would then get turned in Turn 11 after he got hit by Bell just past Lap 21.  

Nearing the Lap 25, Byron was leading by more than two seconds over Reddick as Gibbs, Chastain and Bell trailed in the top five. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch occupied sixth place ahead of Allmendinger, Elliott, Bowman and Shane van Gisbergen while Hamlin, Justin Haley, rookie Carson Hocevar, Buescher and Joey Logano were battling in the top 15. By then, a bevy of names including Bell and Suarez pitted while Kamui Kobayashi spun in Turn 8 after getting bumped by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also spun amid the on-track contact with Kobayashi. 

During the proceeding laps, more green flag pit stops ensued as the leader Byron and a host of names pitted, with Denny Hamlin remaining on the track to inherit the lead in his No. 11 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry XSE. 

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 30, Hamlin, who remained on the track, captured his first Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Blaney settled in second ahead of Martin Truex Jr., Todd Gilliland, Preece and Keselowski while John Hunter Nemechek, Byron, Hemric and Berry ended up in the top 10. 

During the stage break, some, including the leader Hamlin, pitted while the rest led by Byron remained on the track. 

With 35 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as Byron and Chastain occupied the front row. At the start, Byron and Chastain battled for the lead as the field fanned out entering the first uphill turn. Through the first turn, Byron locked his tires and went wide, allowing Chastain to overtake both Byron and Gibbs and move into the lead through the series of right and left-hand turns from Turns 2 to 9. Chastain managed to retain the lead through the final 12 turns as he led the following lap while Byron battled and overtook Gibbs for the runner-up spot.  

Five laps later, Chastain stabilized his advantage to within a second over Byron and nearly two seconds over Gibbs while Bowman was running fourth ahead of a battle between Elliott, Busch and Reddick for fifth. Soon after, however, Elliott was assessed a pass-through penalty for cutting the course in Turn 4. In addition, Busch spun in Turn 1 after getting hit by Bell’s No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry XSE. 

Then with 27 laps remaining, Byron made his move beneath Chastain’s No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Turn 20 and battled dead even with him through the frontstretch to reclaim the lead. Another three laps later, Byron led Chastain to pit road for pit service under green, where the former managed to exit ahead of the latter following the service.  

As the laps dwindled and with each of the front-runners and the field diving to pit road for green flag service, Byron cycled back as the leader with 17 laps remaining after initial leader Truex pitted. With Byron leading, teammate Alex Bowman moved into second while Gibbs cycled to third place. 

Down to the final 15 laps of the event, Byron was leading by more than two seconds over teammate Bowman while Gibbs, Reddick and Bell trailed in the top five. Byron would extend his advantage to more than three seconds over teammate Bowman with 10 laps remaining as Gibbs started to gain ground on Bowman for second place.  

With five laps remaining, Byron continued to lead in his No. 24 RAPTOR Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 by more than three seconds over Gibbs. Meanwhile, Bell was running in third place while Bowman dropped to fourth ahead of Reddick, Allmendinger, Chastain, Buescher, Busch and Chase Briscoe. 

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Byron remained as the leader by more than a second over Bell, who overtook teammate Gibbs for the runner-up spot two laps earlier. Despite Bell mounting a late charge to keep Byron close within his sights, Byron hit his marks on all 20 turns smoothly for a final time as he returned to the frontstretch victorious to claim his second checkered flag of the 2024 Cup Series season. 

With the victory, Byron achieved his 12th career win in the NASCAR Cup Series, his second of the season, his first since winning the 2024 Daytona 500 and his second on a road-course venue after winning at Watkins Glen International last August. He also became the first competitor to achieve multiple Cup victories in the 2024 campaign and the fourth competitor to win a Cup event at Circuit of the Americas in the series’ four-year run at the circuit.

Byron’s Circuit of the Americas victory was also the second ever for Hendrick Motorsports and the second NASCAR win of the weekend for the organization after teammate Kyle Larson won Saturday’s Xfinity event in Austin.

Bell, who led nine laps, settled in the runner-up spot despite having a heated post-race conversation with Kyle Busch who expressed his displeasure to Bell over the contact that sent Busch for a spin.  

“Obviously once I got to [Byron], it was going to be tough to pass him,” Bell said. “I just needed a couple mistakes. William has been really, really good on the road courses and he was flawless when it mattered today. Obviously, [Kyle Busch]’s very upset, which he ended up turned around. I had no intentions of turning him. I’m sure we’ll talk it out before the next race.” 

Ty Gibbs tied his career-best result in third place while Alex Bowman and Tyler Reddick finished in the top five. AJ Allmendinger, Chastain, Buescher, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. ended up in the top 10 in the final running order. 

*Following the post-race inspection process, Justin Haley, who initially finished 17th, was demoted to 39th, dead last, due to his Rick Ware Racing entry not meeting minimum post-race weights. 

There were 11 lead changes for seven different leaders. The race featured two cautions for four laps, both for stage break periods. In addition, 33 of 39 starters finished on the lead lap. 

Following the sixth event of the 2024 Cup Series season, Martin Truex Jr. leads the regular-season standings by five points over Ty Gibbs, nine over Ryan Blaney, 14 over Denny Hamlin and 15 over Kyle Larson. 


1. William Byron, 42 laps led 

2. Christopher Bell, nine laps led, Stage 1 winner 

3. Ty Gibbs, one lap led 

4. Alex Bowman 

5. Tyler Reddick, one lap led 

6. AJ Allmendinger 

7. Ross Chastain, 10 laps led 

8. Chris Buescher 

9. Kyle Busch 

10. Martin Truex Jr., two laps led 

11. Joey Logano 

12. Ryan Blaney 

13. Chase Briscoe 

14. Denny Hamlin, three laps led, Stage 2 winner 

15. Bubba Wallace 

16. Chase Elliott 

17. Kyle Larson 

18. Austin Cindric 

19. Zane Smith 

20. Shane van Gisbergen 

21. John Hunter Nemechek 

22. Carson Hocevar 

23. Ryan Preece 

24. Corey LaJoie  

25. Austin Dillon 

26. Todd Gilliland 

27. Kaz Grala 

28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

29. Kamui Kobayashi 

30. Harrison Burton  

31. Daniel Suarez 

32. Erik Jones 

33. Brad Keselowski  

34. Noah Gragson, one lap down 

35. Josh Berry, one lap down 

36. Timmy Hill, two laps down 

37. Daniel Hemric, two laps down 

38. Michael McDowell – OUT, Steering 

39. Justin Haley – Disqualified 

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. The event is scheduled to occur next weekend on Easter Sunday, March 31, at 7 p.m. ET on FOX. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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