William Byron celebrates his victory Sunday in a NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. LM Otero/Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas — William Byron took the lead for the first time after the final restart with six laps left and won at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, advancing to the round of eight in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs while giving Hendrick Motorsports its 300th victory.

With Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe battling for the lead, Byron was able to get underneath both of them.

“I choked … I had my worst restart,” said Wallace, who after just sneaking into the round of 12 started from the pole and led a career-high 111 laps. “This one is going to sting for a little bit.”

The top five finishers were all playoff contenders, with Ross Chastain second, ahead of Wallace, Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin. Retiring driver Kevin Harvick was sixth, and playoff driver Brad Keselowski was seventh.

“We’ve just been kind of steady Eddie through the first three or four races and we haven’t shown any flashes, but today I thought we had a good car if we could just get to the front,” Byron said. “At the end there, we were really fast.”

Byron finished 1.863 seconds ahead of Chastain for his sixth win of the season, the most in the Cup Series. For the first time since Texas opened in 1997, the race wasn’t scheduled for 501 miles; it was 100 miles shorter.


Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Chastain, Keselowski and Kyle Larson round out the top eight in the playoff standings behind Byron. Wallace moved up three spots to ninth, still one below the cutoff line when this three-race round is done, with Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch behind him.

There are two more races in the round of 12, at Talladega next weekend and then the Roval at Charlotte.

After a restart with 20 laps to go in the 267-lap race, when Kyle Larson and Wallace hadn’t taken fresh tires for the final stretch, they were still side-by-side going into Turn 1. Larson was on the inside when he got loose, went up the track and slammed hard into the wall to end his race, though he didn’t make contact with Wallace.

But there was another restart after five cars got caught up in an accident in the back of the field, including playoff contenders Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick, last year’s winner at Texas.

That led to Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet, instead of Larson, getting the milestone victory for Hendrick.

Byron said he wasn’t sure he could put into words what it meant to get No. 300, expressing his thanks to “Mr. Hendrick for his investment in me, and telling me at 17 years old that he was going to take me to Cup racing. So just appreciate everything he’s done for me. This is awesome.”


Denny Hamlin, racing with damage to his right side after being hit by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs on pit road, finished fifth and moved up to second in the playoffs standings. Chris Buescher is third and Christopher Bell fourth after his fourth-place finish.


Kyle Busch knew something was wrong with his car as he was trying to get to the end of first stage. The playoff contender didn’t make it that far, as his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet got loose and slammed hard into the outside wall in Turn 1 before coming down to the inside of the track.

“I felt like I had a flat right front (tire), and I was going to come to pit road. I second-guessed it, and said ‘I don’t think so, man. It’s just something’s wrong. Something’s not right, but it’s not a a flat’,” Busch said. “And just all on its own, (the car) just turned into the bottom of the racetrack in Turn 1 and it just swapped ends on me. That’s the rear, not the front, not having grip.”

Busch finished only 73 laps and was 34th in the 36-car field, dropping from sixth to 12th in the playoff standings.


For the first time since Texas opened in 1997, the race wasn’t scheduled for 501 miles; it was 100 miles shorter. … Playoff contenders have won each of the first four playoff races this season, after non-playoff drivers did so in the first four last year. … The outside temperature reached 101 degrees, making it the hottest Cup race ever at Texas, which opened in 1997. The track temperature was 140 degrees early in the race.

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