Another surprise winner in NASCAR

Another surprise winner in NASCAR

William Byron gave NASCAR its third surprise winner in three weeks, this one not quite as stunning as the first two at Daytona International Speedway.

Thursday, March 04, 2021 (5:15 pm)

Byron picked up the second win of his NASCAR Cup Series career Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and dominated along the way.

Byron led the final 58 laps and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. While his margin of victory was 2.7 seconds on Tyler Reddick, at times Byron led by over five seconds. The winning pass was made when Byron overtook Martin Truex Jr. a few laps after the final restart of the Dixie Vodka 400.

The win likely clinches Byron a playoff spot for the third consecutive season.

Byron entered the weekend as a 28-1 shot to win a race many expected would provide a return to normal for the racing series. Instead, Michael McDowell — who won the season-opening Daytona 500 — and Christopher Bell, who triumphed on the Daytona road course one week later — have company in the relatively odd group of 2021 winners.

Byron, whose lone victory before Sunday came in the 2020 regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway, got a huge boost this season when Rick Hendrick hired new crew chief Ryan “Rudy” Fugle to reunite with Byron and lead the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team.

“That guy has been huge for my career,” Byron said of Fugle. “He’s the reason I’m here, and I’m glad we could get him. He’s just awesome. This whole team did a phenomenal job.

"This car looks really cool. I’m can’t even believe it, honestly. It was just a really smooth day."

Byron and Fugle, who is just three races into his Cup career, were paired up in the Truck Series in 2016 running for Kyle Busch Motorsports and scored a win Homestead.

“Get used to winning, boys,” Fugle said on the No. 24 team radio after the checkered flag. “Get used to it!”

Fugle spent eight years at KBM and led the trucks program to two driver championships and five owner titles. His trucks won 28 races, seven with Byron behind the wheel.

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