By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
William Byron was among the many NASCAR Cup Series playoff drivers who were tamed by “The Lady in Black.” Not once, but twice in Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, becoming the third competitor crashing out at Darlington Raceway.
Following a late-race crash in last Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, Byron hoped Darlington would be a turnaround weekend. Especially, that it’s the playoff opener and having a career season.
However, it wasn’t in the cards the from the very beginning. On Lap 15, Byron couldn’t avoid Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman, who had a flat tire in Turn 3.
Although he sustained right rear damage from that wild attempt of wreck avoidance, the Homestead winner recovered fairly.
By the time the race reached Lap 200, Byron’s night went straight to hell with a possible broken valve stem causing his front going awry. As a result, Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE went for a shower of sparks after getting by the lapped car of Quin Houff.
Byron would then slapped the Turn 1 wall, ending his night on what’s been a frustrating night for the team.
The visibly frustrated felt that the woes came directly from the previous pit stop.
“It looked like we dropped the jack. The left front was still finishing up and then I took off,” said Byron. “Everything felt okay, but when I pass (Quinn) down the front stretch. I was about to turn into (turn) one and the left front went down.
“Nothing we can do. The guys did an awesome job to fix (the damage from Lap 15). We were running in the top-12 even with all the right rear damage. It’s terrible. That sucked.”
As aforementioned, Byron joined Kyle Busch and Michael McDowell in the garage area. All looking to advance into the Round of 12, but would now have to really get the ball rolling next Saturday at Richmond Raceway.