William Byron wins Daytona 500 in closest finish ever

After surviving a 23-car wreck with nine laps to go, William Byron went on to win his first Daytona 500 on Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary via a four-lap shootout, when the yellow came out on the final lap for a Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric wrecking on the frontstretch.  At the moment of caution, Byron had his nose ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman to be 0.006 seconds in front, making it the closest finish in Daytona 500 history, and a Hendrick Motorsports one-two, on Monday night.

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Hendrick anniversary celebrations

It was William Byron’s second Cup win at Daytona having won the 2020 summer race, the Coke Zero Sugar 400, and his 11th Cup series win.

Byron said: “I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500. This is so freaking cool.”

Byron gave Hendrick Motorsports their ninth Daytona 500 win, tying them with Petty Enterprises for most Daytona 500 wins.

William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning he NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Team owner Rick Hendrick said, “I’m telling you, you couldn’t write the script any better. We win this on our 40th to the day, so that’s awesome.”

It was the 40th anniversary to the day as NASCAR was forced to move the race to Monday due to bad weather all day Sunday.

Hendricks Motorsports made their NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 1984 Daytona 500 when Geoff Bodine took their No. 5 Chevrolet to an eighth place finish.

Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, who won the Great American Race with Hendrick Motorsports in 1997, ’99, and ’05 with the No. 24 Chevrolet, and now is Vice Chairman for Hendrick Motorsports was ecstatic about the win.

Gordon said: “I might not have been driving the car tonight, but I felt like I made every lap with our guys, especially with the 24 and with William in those closing laps when he was out front. To me, when I found out that they had won, I honestly was about as excited as I was when I was driving. It is 2024, and the 24 is always going to be very, very special to me. But what I loved the most is seeing him make it his number.”

Jeff Gordon celebrates his win in the Daytona 500 (Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman very nearly ended Byron’s chances of winning the Daytona 500 on lap 192 when down the backstretch he bumped an already loose Byron that sent him veering to the left into Brad Keselowski’s right rear setting off the 23-car wreck. Both Bowman and Byron managed to escape the wrecking field unscathed.

Chastain, Busch, and Logano

Ross Chastain had led 14 laps of the Daytona 500 and been duelling at the front for much of the final stage of the race, including on lap 192 when the 23-car wreck occurred behind him.

Chastain, after already making aggressive blocks earlier in the final stage on Joey Logano, as the field took the white flag on the frontstrectch, from the second row Chastain bolted for a closing gap between Austin Cindric and William Byron but Chastain got collected by Cindric before both spun down into the grass and back into the pack, bringing out the yellow, ending the race one-lap early.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Chastain said: “I took the gap, I don’t apologise for that. Too aggressive though, and when you don’t finish.” Chastain wound up 21st.

Polesitter Joey Logano, going for his second Daytona 500 win, led a race high of 45 laps but was taken out by Brad Keselowski in the lap 192 big one and finished 32nd.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Celsius Chevrolet, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Nasty Beast Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch went into Monday’s Daytona 500 as the driver who had led the most laps in the Daytona 500 race in history without a Daytona 500 win. Busch led in all three stages of the races and was in the mix in the final 10 laps but was unable to draft up to the front in the closing laps and had to settle for 12th.

Kyle Busch had an eventful race as in stage three during the stage break, a loose lug nut led to a tyre puncture forcing him to limp round and get a new set of tyres, only to take back the lead of the race with less than 60 laps to go.

The after falling back through the pack, Busch would bounce off the turn two wall in the mid pack on lap 172.

Rest of race recap

After Logano and 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell led the field to green for the 66th running of the Daytona 500, a multi-car crash on lap six transcended when Keselowski pushed John Hunter Nemechek in the rear, turning him down into Harrison Burton and rookie Carson Hocevar, ending both their races, as well as collecting Kaz Grala, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, and Ryan Preece in the melee.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Fans saw two and three-wide action in all the stages, with pit stop strategies mostly aligning with the manufacturer’s.

David Ragan and Ryan Preece tried to win stage one without pitting for fuel for a second time but were caught by the Kyle Busch led pack with three laps to go, that ended with Chase Elliott winning stage one, and with the four Hendrick Motorsport’s drivers inside the top five.

Stage two saw Joey Logano lead the opening 20 laps of the stage and Kyle Busch led much of the last 15 laps, overcoming a pit road penalty for having too many pit crew members over the wall. It was reigning Cup series champion Ryan Blaney who won the stage.

Three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin took the lead on lap 152 and would lead again from 154-162, while Busch would bounce off the turn two wall in the mid pack on lap 172.

Also taken out in the lap 192 big one was last year’s Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Thursday night’s duel one winner Tyler Reddick, and Ryan Blaney.

The next race is the Ambetter Health 400 from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday 25th Feb with the race starting at 3pm ET (8pm UK time).  

Full race results 

  1. William Byron
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Christopher Bell
  4. Corey LaJoie
  5. Bubba Wallace
  6. AJ Allmendinger
  7. John Hunter Nemechek
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Noah Gragson
  10. Chase Briscoe
  11. Kyle Larson
  12. Kyle Busch
  13. Zane Smith
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Martin Truex Jr.
  16. Daniel Hemric
  17. Ty Gibbs
  18. Chris Buescher
  19. Denny Hamlin
  20. David Ragan
  21. Ross Chastain
  22. Austin Cindric
  23. Ryan Preece
  24. Riley Herbst
  25. Josh Berry
  26. Justin Haley
  27. Anthony Alfredo
  28. Jimmie Johnson
  29. Tyler Reddick
  30. Ryan Blaney
  31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  32. Joey Logano
  33. Brad Keselowski
  34. Daniel Suárez
  35. Todd Gilliland
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Austin Dillon
  38. Kaz Grala
  39. Harrison Burton
  40. Carson Hocevar

Points standings 

  1. William Byron – 54
  2. Alex Bowman – 50
  3. Christopher Bell – 44
  4. Chase Elliott – 42
  5. Bubba Wallace – 39
  6. John Hunter Nemechek – 37
  7. Kyle Larson – 37
  8. Kyle Busch – 37
  9. Erik Jones – 35
  10. Corey LaJoie – 33
  11. Austin Cindric – 33
  12. Denny Hamlin – 30
  13. Chase Briscoe – 29
  14. Zane Smith – 29
  15. Noah Gragson – 28
  16. Martin Truex Jr. – 24
  17. Ross Chastain – 24
  18. Tyler Reddick – 24
  19. Ty Gibbs – 23
  20. Daniel Hemric – 21
  21. Chris Buescher – 21
  22. David Ragan – 17
  23. Ryan Blaney – 17
  24. Daniel Suárez – 17
  25. Ryan Preece – 14
  26. Josh Berry – 12
  27. Justin Haley – 12
  28. Jimmie Johnson – 9
  29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 9
  30. Joey Logano – 9
  31. Brad Keselowski – 8
  32. Carson Hocevar – 8
  33. Harrison Burton – 7
  34. Todd Gilliland – 2
  35. Michael McDowell – 1
  36. Austin Dillon – 1
  37. Kaz Grala – 1

Featured Image: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, leads Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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