NASCAR | Texas Review | Ralph Arvesen
EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series race at the Circuits of The Americas in Austin, Texas on March 24, 2024. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

William Byron, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, delivered a composed and impressive performance to secure victory in the NASCAR Cup Series at Austin's Circuit of The Americas road course on Sunday, maintaining his pole position and fending off challengers by a margin of less than a second when necessary.

Following his triumph at the season-opening Daytona 500, the 26-year-old Charlotte native becomes the first driver to claim multiple victories this season. This win marks his 12th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and sets a new record for his Hendrick team with their 28th win on NASCAR road courses.

Although Byron appeared to have a comfortable lead at times, with nearly a three-second gap over the field with 10 laps to go, he faced pressure from Christopher Bell in the closing laps. Bell, gaining four positions in the final moments, kept Byron on his toes, resulting in a narrow victory margin of .692 seconds around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile track.

Reflecting on his performance, Byron acknowledged some mistakes in the final laps but expressed gratitude for his team's efforts and the opportunity to win races despite the challenges of the sport. Christopher Bell, driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and a winner at Phoenix this season, commended Byron's flawless performance on the road course, recognizing the tough competition among talented drivers and teams.

Behind Byron and Bell was Ty Gibbs, Bell's 21-year-old JGR teammate, who maintained a strong position throughout the race. Despite being passed by Bell in the closing laps, Gibbs secured third place, marking his fifth top 10 finish in the season's six races and elevating him to second place in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.

Alex Bowman, Byron's Hendrick teammate, finished fourth, followed by Tyler Reddick from 23XI Racing, the 2023 COTA winner. Unlike the previous day's races at COTA, Sunday's event saw only two caution flags for scheduled stage breaks, resulting in a clean race with seven leaders and 11 lead changes. Byron led a dominant 43 of the 68 laps.

A.J. Allmendinger, known for his prowess on road courses, finished sixth, followed by the 2022 COTA winner, Ross Chastain. Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex completed the top 10. Shane van Gisbergen from New Zealand and Japan's Kamui Kobayashi, considered "road course ringers," had respectable finishes, coming in 21st and 30th, respectively. Zane Smith claimed the highest finishing position among rookies in 20th place.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway next Sunday night for the Toyota Owners 400, where defending race winner Kyle Larson, also from Hendrick Motorsports, will look to continue his success.

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Photos by Ralph Arvesen
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