By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
For the first time since his win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway six races ago, William Byron has scored a top-five finish. Byron was up front for much of the day in his No. 9 Liberty University Throwback Chevrolet Camaro, inspired by the paint-schemes of the late-Ricky Hendrick.
Byron was one of four NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars to finish in the top-10 in each stage at Darlington Raceway. The other three Xfinity regulars in the top-10 in stages 1 and 2 were Byron’s JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole, and Daniel Hemric. In the first two stages, he finished in ninth, earning four-championship points total.
Byron’s top-five run in the VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200 was not without a scare or two. Twice, he had to take evasive action. The closest Byron came to disaster happened when Dylan Lupton spun on lap 72. Lupton’s No. 24 Nut Up Toyota Camry broke loose in turn two and spun down the track in front of Byron. He took evasive action to the apron to avoid Lupton. Byron also had to avoid the spinning car of Ty Dillon just six laps into the race.
Byron credited his top-five run to a good restart,
“We just had a good restart there, with two restarts to go, I think it was with about five laps to go. It was great to represent Ricky (Hendrick) and honor all of them. That’s what we wanted to do today. So, good to get a top-five. Not a win, but close, I thank everyone for that.”
He also admitted that the race was a bit of a learning process,
“It was definitely a learning process, just getting comfortable with running the wall. I felt like I was making good time up there. But with traffic, it gets tough to run like that. Just learning that, getting up there on entry. Good effort by our guys, thanks to Liberty University for the throwback, and all of our guys on this team.”
This was the eight top-five and 16th top-10 for Byron in 24 races. He sits 91 points behind Sadler, but is locked into the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs by virtue of his three wins.
Now Byron and his JR Motorsports team will look to continue their momentum at Richmond Raceway.