William Byron Comes Back For Third Win of The Year At Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Darlington Redemption For William Byron

After barely coming up short at Darlington one year ago, William Byron survived two multi-car pile-ups on his way to winning his third Cup Series race of the year. Byron fell back in the final stage after a slow pit stop, but a late race spin by Ryan Newman brought out a caution that completely changed the race. With 13 laps to go, Martin Truex Jr. got into Joey Logano, triggering a wreck that involved eight cars.

Just in front of the crash, leaders Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson also got together but were able to continue. That wasn’t the case on the next restart, where Chastain and Larson got together again, this time taking each other out of the race.

Byron snuck by both crashes on the low side and held off Kevin Harvick during the final restart to win the race that eluded him last year. With this victory, he now leads all Cup Series drivers with three wins this season.

Ross Chastain Strikes Again

Ross Chastain seems to find himself in the middle of controversy every week in the Cup Series, and this week at Darlington was no different. After praising Chastain on his podcast during the week, Kyle Larson is his newest enemy. The two made contact on back-to-back restarts racing for the win, eventually crashing each other out. Larson even kept driving into Chastain after the crash, pushing him all the way down the backstretch. After the race, Chastain took ownership of the crash saying he was racing hard and made a mistake.

Larson declined to comment on the incident to reporters, but his crew chief, Cliff Daniels, was clearly not amused.

The Return of Carl Edwards

The first two stages of the Goodyear 400 were fairly calm on the track. The highlight of the second stage was the return of Carl Edwards to the NASCAR stage when he joined the broadcast. Edwards, who has 28 wins in the Cup Series retired abruptly after the 2016 season and has rarely been seen or heard from since. He came back to Darlington for NASCAR’s celebration of its 75 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR list. In the broadcast booth, Carl didn’t miss a beat. He perfectly deflected any reference to his disappearance as professionally as his interviews during his driving career. All Edwards wanted to do was talk about racing, and that is why everybody loved seeing him back at a NASCAR event.

Regular Season Midway Point

Darlington’s Goodyear 400 brings the 2023 Cup Series season to its midway point. With 13 races down and 13 to go following next week’s All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro, Ross Chastain is atop the points standings. William Byron leads all drivers with three wins which puts him first in the projected playoff standings. This year’s final playoff spots could come down to points with the consistency of the Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing cars.

Ford drivers have been struggling a bit this season. The manufacturer only has one win through the first 13 races of the Cup Series season. Kevin Harvick is an outlier being 3rd in points but the consensus, as FOX Sports’┬áBob Pockrass says, Ford is at a disadvantage this year.

Featured Image Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images