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William Byron Advances to Round of 8 With Late Charge to Win at Texas

William Byron only led six laps in Sunday's race at Texas, but they were the most important ones. The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is now onto the Round of 8, and he has picked up the 300th win for Hendrick Motorsports.


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With Kevin Harvick closing in on the end of his NASCAR Cup Series career, is it time to anoint William Byron as the new Closer? The even-keeled driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 snuck up and took the lead with six laps remaining in Sunday's Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

And he never looked back.

RELATED: NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 Race Results

"Man, that's badass. I finally got a good restart at the end," Byron stated after the race.

"Awesome to get our car to the front. I love clean air. We just fought through traffic all day, and our Liberty University Chevy was just tight back in traffic, but had good pace."

Byron cruised to the finish line with a victory margin of 1.863 sec. over Ross Chastain. This marks the sixth win of the season for Byron, and this win moves him to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Even without a place in the Round of 8 being on the line, Byron says this is a win that he'll remain proud of due to having to endure the extremely warm elements (the temperature at the time of the green flag was 101 degrees).

"This was one of those hot days, it felt like when I played football, going through two-a-days and just wanted to quit," Byron laughed. "It was a grind-it-out day, and our team was there at the end. I'm really proud of this one with how hot it was and how tough it was."

Six wins on the season, and he is one step away from battling for a championship in the Championship 4, but this win means even more, historically for Hendrick Motorsports.

Sunday's win by Byron marked the 300th NASCAR Cup Series win all-time for HMS, which extends the organization's record for most all-time. Byron says he is just happy to bring the trophy back for the man who took a chance on him.

"I don't know if I can even put it into words," Byron said when asked what 300 Hendrick wins means. "I was such a Hendrick Motorsports fan as a kid, watching Jimmie Johnson. I became really fond of Jeff Gordon once I got to know him. Just thankful for all of the people, men, and women back at Hendrick Motorsports, and Mr. Hendrick for his investment in me. Telling me at 17 years old that he was going to take me Cup racing. Just appreciate everything he's done for me. This is awesome."

While it was a joyous finish for Byron, it was a disappointing finish for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson, who led 99 laps on the day and appeared destined to be heading to victory lane.

Larson had a lead of over four seconds in the closing laps, but a caution on Lap 243 changed everything. On the following restart, Larson got locked into a battle with Bubba Wallace for the race lead, and as the duo entered Turn 1 on Lap 249, Larson lost the air on the right side of his car.

This sent the No. 5 car spinning, and he backed it hard into the outside wall.

What looked like a for sure win minutes earlier, resulted in a 31st-place finish. Larson admitted that he made a mistake, as he wasn't expecting his car to snap loose like it did.

"[Bubba Wallace] did a good job to stay with me on the restart, through [Turns] 3 and 4, and all that. I just tried to open up, I was trying to have my shape going into Turn 1," Larson explained. "With these cars, compared to the old ones, you don't really get sucked around like that. I wasn't really expecting it. Thought I would be fine and we just went in there side-by-side and I just lost it really quickly, and crashed."

Larson, who would have been locked into the Round of 8 with the win, is now just two points above the cutline leaving Texas Motor Speedway.

Ross Chastain overcame issues with his throttle sensor, which was limiting the amount of power that his car was putting out early in the race, to score the runner-up finish.

The driver, who rode the wall at Martinsville last fall to advance to the Championship 4, is once again showing the ability to overcome adversity to score the finishes he needs to advance in the Playoffs.

Wallace, who was the driver battling Larson for the lead when Larson crashed, wound up in third position, when his car faded on the final restart of the race.

The 23XI Racing driver, who wears his emotions on his sleeves, was extremely hard on himself after the finish of the race.

"Upset myself. Really needed a win there. It was a good showing. I don't where that puts us, but I don't really care. I know what I did, and I choked," Wallace said with dejection.

While he was upset with himself, Wallace climbed from being the ast driver in the Playoff Grid to now being just two points behind the cutline. It was a great points day despite the missed opportunity.

Behind Wallace were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin in fourth and fifth.

Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-10 finishers on the day.

Several Playoff drivers found trouble throughout the event, including Kyle Busch, who was the first to find trouble on Sunday.

Busch radioed to his team that he felt there was an issue with his right front tire near the end of the opening Stage of the race, but the team encouraged him to ride it out until the Stage break.

Busch tried, but a few laps later, he would lose control of his car in Turn 2, and he would back the car into the outside wall, which put an end to his day.

Busch is now the 12th man in the championship hunt, and he is 17 points below the cutline heading into Talladega Superspeedway.

Martin Truex Jr. entered the day tied for the top seed with Byron, but he would go for a spin off the front bumper of Brad Keselowski's No. 6 RFK Racing Ford at the end of Stage 1.

Truex would suffer with an ill-handling car all day long and would salvage a frustrating 17th-place finish. Truex sits 19 points above the cutline after Sunday.

Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney also suffered issues on a multi-car melee at the end of the race, which relegated them both to finishes of 25th and 28th.

Reddick and Blaney find themselves with Wallace and Busch below the Playoff cutline.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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