By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
After a mid-race spin, William Byron rebounded to earn a top-10 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
At the start of stage three, the Hendrick Motorsports No 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 contacted Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang. The damage appeared minor and for a moment, it looked as if Byron’s tire would clear the left rear fender itself. On lap 182, the left rear tire blew, and he spun in turns three and four.
After the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Grid driver somehow did not get hit by the oncoming field, he immediately pitted and didn’t lose a lap. Byron then used ensuing restarts and a two-tire pit stop to climb through the field. When the checkered flag waved, he crossed the line for the South Point 400 in seventh.
“We just had to recover,” Byron admitted. “I don’t really know what happened there. I was just running on the wall on the back straightaway and got hit in the left rear. I thought the tire was going to last and hold up. It cleared the fender for a while and it obviously had a cut in it already. That was a big bummer.
“It was crazy. You think about all of the things that can go wrong in a race. It’s tough, you have to really manage the whole race and recover from things that happen. It seemed like every car has something that happened during this race, so you just have to recover from it.”
The speed of Byron’s Chevrolet was evident from the drop of the green flag. The 14th-place qualifier climbed to seventh by the end of stage one. Byron was one position better in the second stage. The two stage finishes earned the 21-year-old nine stage points.
Byron was also the seventh-place finisher among the playoff grid drivers. He entered Las Vegas seeded 13th, the first driver on the outside looking in. Following Las Vegas, Byron is now eighth, 13-points above the cutoff line held by Ryan Newman.
The seventh-place finish is the 10th top-10 for Byron this season and the 14th of his career.