William Byron locks up first win and playoff berth in thrilling Daytona race

After he was on the playoff fringe entering the race, William Byron would prevail through multiple wrecks to claim the win under the lights at Daytona International Speedway Saturday evening. 

The win locks Byron into the playoffs. The win also represents Byron’s first win in the Cup Series. It is also his first NASCAR win since November 11, 2017 at Phoenix in the Xfinity Series. 

Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. would jockey back-and-forth for the lead several times through the first four laps of the race. William Byron, however, would jolt ahead from the outside line and take the lead on lap five. 

Although Harvick would use the inside line to retake the lead, Byron would overtake the former and clear the field on lap eight. The 22-year-old for Hendrick Motorsports would continue to lead the majority of the field single-file at the onset of the lap 20 competition caution. 

Byron would continue to lead until Erik Jones would push ahead on lap 29. Byron would yet again use the bottom lane to take back the lead on lap 34. Team Penske teammates in Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, however, would break up the Byron and Alex Bowman Hendrick lead and see the former take first on lap 36. Although the inside and outside lines would converge and see non-stop movement at the top, Logano would hold onto the lead to pick up the stage one victory. It would be Logano’s fifth stage win of the season. 

Jones would start out the beginning of stage two atop the field. The 24-year-old for Joe Gibbs Racing would hold the lead until his teammate Kyle Busch would take the lead on lap 66. 

Logano would cycle ahead to the lead once more after the field ahead of him would go into pit road. Although a pack of Chevrolets captained by Jimmie Johnson would quickly gain, Logano would utilize blocking on both the inside and outside to pick up his second stage win of the evening and sixth of the season. 

Although Logano would lead at the start of the final stage, Truex Jr. would vault ahead of him with 54 to go. While Truex Jr. and Logano would closely remain behind, Kyle Busch would take the lead with 40 to go. After Busch would pit, Logano, led by a slew of Fords, would take the lead with 30 to go until they too would pit. Busch would retake the lead after the Fords would head to pit road several laps later. 

After a James Davison caution with 18 to go packed the field would be packed together on the lap 148 restart. After Tyler Reddick attempting to clear Kyle on the outside lane, the former would scrape into the wall and lose control to lead to the big one. The wreck on lap 151 would involve both drivers in addition to Erik Jones, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece and Kurt Busch. 

After the red flag was lifted, the green flag would wave with five to go. Reddick would lead the field until Hamlin would vault ahead via a push by Logano. However, another big wreck would occur through turn two. The wreck occurred after Logano would get loose and collect Reddick, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, among others.

The start of overtime would see Byron clear the field, hold the lead and collect the win despite a wreck in the middle of the field on the final lap. 

Matt DiBenedetto would finish 12th and collect the final playoff spot among the 16-driver playoff field. In 11 career Cup Series races at Daytona, the finish is his fifth inside the top 15. 

Johnson and Jones would finish 17th and 35th, respectively. Both drivers would finish outside the playoff bubble after getting caught up in wrecks earlier in the race. For Johnson, the finish eliminates him from the postseason in his last year in the Cup Series. 

The Cup Series will officially begin the Round of 16 with a trip to Darlington Raceway Sept. 6. Coverage for the race will begin at 6:00 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Network. 

Race results: 

Playoff standings:

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