Byron has extra wins than some other driver within the NASCAR Cup Collection this yr, however narrowly escaped elimination as his 30-point buffer evaporated through the race.
The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver was mired within the midpack for many of the race and ended up ending thirteenth, one lap down, nevertheless it proved was simply sufficient as Byron superior by simply eight factors over Denny Hamlin.
Byron will face Martinsville winner Ryan Blaney (Workforce Penske), his Hendrick team-mate Kyle Larson, in addition to Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in subsequent week’s title-decider at Phoenix Raceway.
“Clearly we weren’t excellent,” mentioned Byron, who has six wins to his identify this yr. “Our worst race of the yr.
“Truthfully, in all probability with 50 to go I felt actually, actually unhealthy. I simply needed to drive the hell out of it.
“The blokes caught with me, they saved motivating me by little bits and items, simply type of retaining my thoughts straight. I am simply actually grateful for them.
“It was simply, yeah, a slugfest. Everybody raced me there good on the finish. We simply needed to dangle on, needed to dig slightly bit deeper.
Picture by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, PODS Chevrolet Camaro
“I knew after I obtained out of the automobile I used to be simply beat. However the consequence means greater than something.”
Byron, who gained the latest Cup race at Phoenix in March, might be a part of the Championship 4 for the primary time in his profession. His finest factors consequence till now was sixth in 2022.
Hamlin rues Homestead energy steering woes
Following his elimination from the playoffs, Hamlin remarked that the “mechanical failure final week with the ability steering, that sealed our destiny”.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver had confronted a 17-point deficit heading into Sunday’s race at Martinsville and, though he gained the primary stage and completed second in Stage 2, he was unable to get on phrases with Blaney because the race ended on a 168-lap green-flag run.
Talking after ending third, Hamlin mentioned. “I’m actually pleased with this entire workforce for displaying up immediately after we actually wanted to, having in all probability a mid-50-point day. They did nice. They did completely nice.
“The #12 automobile [Blaney] was one of the best automobile immediately, so congrats to them – all the ultimate 4 that made it. It’s going to be nice. Hate we’re not in it.”
Final season Hamlin entered the Martinsville race with a factors cushion that regarded more likely to carry him to the Championship 4, however Ross Chastain’s dramatic last-lap wall-riding transfer helped him edge Hamlin for the ultimate switch spot.
Requested about his feelings on lacking out on one other likelihood to win his first collection championship, Hamlin mentioned, “Man, I simply wish to prepare and go attempt to win subsequent week. I nonetheless adore it a lot as a result of each week I really feel like I obtained a shot to win.
Picture by: Motorsport Images
#11: Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx Toyota Camry, #48: Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro
“That’s what fuels my ardour, even at my age, to maintain doing this, is I’m with the workforce that I obtained that provides me such quick vehicles each week and provides me an opportunity to proceed to pile on these stats earlier than the top of my profession.
“It’s not over by any means. We obtained an extended approach to go.”
Hamlin’s JGR team-mate Martin Truex Jr was additionally eradicated from the playoffs, after main the common collection factors.
After a pitlane dashing penalty through the break between Phases 2 and three, the polesitter was by no means capable of get well to the sharp finish and completed twelfth.
Reflecting on a disappointing run within the playoffs, Truex mentioned: “I simply really feel we couldn’t do something proper. If it was ever a 50/50 name, it all the time went towards us.
“A blown engine, a flat tyre, you identify it, downside after downside. Simply saved setting us again, and we couldn’t get any momentum.
“I feel we did an excellent job immediately. It was a tiny little error, .2 miles an hour can wreck your entire yr sadly.”