Wild Bill: William Byron Wins In Drama Filled Cup Series Event At Atlanta

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

William Byron celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

HAMPTON, Ga. – It was superspeedway racing with all the trimmings.

“New” Atlanta Motor Speedway produced a fifth different 2022 winner—William Byron, who managed to keep an angry pack of drafting cars behind him for the final 10 laps of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. 

In a race that produced 46 lead changes among 20 drivers—both track records—Byron crossed the finish line .109 seconds ahead of Christopher Bell and .145 seconds ahead of Ross Chastain. 

Bell, however, was penalized for passing below the boundary line on the backstretch on the final lap and was demoted to 23rd, the last position on the lead lap. That elevated Chastain to his second straight runner-up finish. 

Byron took the lead from Bubba Wallace on Lap 316 of 325 and held it the rest of the way.

“It was so different,” said Byron, who collected his third NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which had undergone a major repaving and reconfiguration since the series raced at the 1.54-mile track last July.

“Honestly, the last few laps there and trying to manage the gap to Bubba and trying to not get too far out front. You know, my spotter Brandon (Lines), his first win, so congrats to him. Thanks to this whole team. They’ve done a great job this year.  

“Lots of changes with the Next Gen car. The (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports) Chevrolet was awesome there. Worked hard overnight. Had a pretty rough practice and worked hard on it and got it handling well, like I told you. It was kind of an intermediate style with a little bit of speedway into it, so a lot of fun.”

In essence, track owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. transformed an intermediate downforce track into a mini-Daytona, and NASCAR responded by mandating a superspeedway competition package for the first race on the new asphalt. 

Those who doubted that the dramatic changes would produce nail-biting side-by-side racing were quickly proven wrong, as many of the race teams left the track with destroyed race cars and drivers with payback on their minds. 

Byron managed to steer clear of the chaos, but Chastain did not. Leading on Lap 94 near the end of Stage 1, Chastain blew a right rear tire on his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet and slammed in the outside wall in Turn 2. 

Chastain lost two laps for improper fueling under NASCAR’s damaged vehicle policy but regained them as the beneficiary under two straight cautions. Deft repair work by his crew kept him competitive. 

“That’s the fight in Trackhouse,” Chastain said. “This Gen 7 car, to take a lick like that, blow a tire out of nowhere and leading, just cruising, blow a right rear, slam the wall. Thought our day was over. Our guys went underneath the car, got the toe closer, and we got the balance back where I could drive it.

“And just the Chevy was fast. It was so fast. I mean, we were fighting with Will there at the beginning. It’s so cool to race with buddies. I’m getting to race with my—I only have a few, but the last few weeks I’ve been able to race with my buddies.” 

Like Chastain, Kurt Busch was collected in a major accident (Lap 145) but recovered to run third as the highest-finishing Toyota. Daniel Suarez was fourth, giving Trackhouse Racing—co-owned by Justin Marks and pop star Pitbull—two cars in the top five.  

Corey LaJoie came home fifth, scoring the first top five of his Cup career. Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Alex Bowman completed the top 10.

All told, 28 of the 37 cars that started the race were involved in collisions. That number included Wallace, who was collected in a wreck with Justin Haley and Buescher approaching the checkered flag. Wallace finished 13th. 

Notes: Three different Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won three of the first five races this season, with Kyle Larson taking the checkered flag at Fontana and Bowman taking the trophy at Las Vegas… The race featured 11 cautions for 65 laps… Byron led eight times for 111 laps. Chastain was second in laps led with 42.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 64th Annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, March 20, 2022

                    1. (12)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 325.

                    2. (7)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 325.

                    3. (9)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, 325.

                    4. (13)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 325.

                    5. (33)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 325.

                    6. (6)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 325.

                    7. (14)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 325.

                    8. (26)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 325.

                    9. (3)  Joey Logano, Ford, 325.

                    10. (11)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 325.

                    11. (22)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 325.

                    12. (24)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 325.

                    13. (19)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 325.

                    14. (23)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 325.

                    15. (1)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 325.

                    16. (36)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 325.

                    17. (2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 325.

                    18. (35)  David Ragan, Ford, 325.

                    19. (34)  BJ McLeod, Ford, 325.

                    20. (37)  Greg Biffle, Chevrolet, 325.

                    21. (8)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 325.

                    22. (10)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 325.

                    23. (27)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 325.

                    24. (29)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 321.

                    25. (31)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 321.

                    26. (32)  Cody Ware, Ford, Accident, 300.

                    27. (25)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, DVP, 297.

                    28. (5)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, Accident, 245.

                    29. (15)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 212.

                    30. (21)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 212.

                    31. (28)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 200.

                    32. (16)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, Accident, 200.

                    33. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 171.

                    34. (20)  Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 150.

                    35. (17)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 101.

                    36. (18)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 101.

                    37. (30)  Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 23.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  126.584 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 57 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .145 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 65 laps.

Lead Changes:  46 among 20 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Briscoe 0;R. Blaney 1;C. Briscoe 2-6;K. Busch 7-12;C. Elliott 13-15;K. Busch 16-30;R. Chastain 31-34;W. Byron 35-40;R. Chastain 41-42;W. Byron 43-45;R. Chastain 46;R. Blaney 47-48;J. Logano 49-50;D. Hamlin 51;J. Logano 52-54;R. Chastain 55-64;J. Logano 65-69;R. Chastain 70-94;W. Byron 95-105;C. Bell 106-121;K. Harvick 122-124;M. Truex Jr. 125;J. Logano 126-127;K. Busch 128-129;R. Stenhouse Jr. 130;K. Busch 131-132;R. Stenhouse Jr. 133-137;J. Haley 138;T. Reddick 139-143;W. Byron 144-148;B. McLeod 149-150;W. Byron 151-153;K. Harvick 154-161;W. Byron 162-183;R. Blaney 184;R. Stenhouse Jr. 185-200;R. Blaney 201-207;K. Larson 208;R. Blaney 209-212;D. Suarez 213-224;M. Truex Jr. 225-228;C. Elliott 229-254;D. Suarez 255;A. Almirola 256-261;W. Byron 262-312;B. Wallace 313-315;W. Byron 316-325.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  William Byron 8 times for 111 laps; Ross Chastain 5 times for 42 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 29 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 3 times for 22 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 21 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 16 laps; Ryan Blaney 5 times for 15 laps; Daniel Suarez 2 times for 13 laps; Joey Logano 4 times for 12 laps; Kevin Harvick 2 times for 11 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 6 laps; Chase Briscoe 1 time for 5 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 5 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 5 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 4 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 3 laps; BJ McLeod 1 time for 2 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 1 lap; Justin Haley 1 time for 1 lap; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,11,99,47,43,45,48,8,5,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,9,14,10,6,99,19,23,24,1


  1. Jeepers, for a reconditioned facility, the track was horrible. I was getting seasick watching the in-car feeds. There is a HUGE bump that made me gasp the first couple times I saw cars go over it… the cars jumped like they were running over a tire.

    The way the cars snap loose is scary. Thought a new track was supposed to have way better grip.

    But, it was exciting, lots of passing and lead changes.

    These car shed lots of debris when they wreck.

    I have to laugh at the 24 and Liberty University sponsorship. For a sanctioning body that that claims it is all about family values and family fun, allowing a sponsor like Liberty University is deplorable. Rick Hendrick is good friends with Jerry Falwell Jr. The pic of Falwell with his pants down and his arm around the young coed were on Hendrick’s yacht. Read Falwell’s interview about the pool boy… he bares it all, well, almost all. And these are the people telling the rest of us how we are supposed to live our lives. I love watching Christians feed themselves to the lions.

  2. getserious says

    “Those who doubted that the dramatic changes would produce nail-biting side-by-side racing were quickly proven wrong, as many of the race teams left the track with destroyed race cars….”
    So, uh, mission accomplished?? NASCAR, the WWE of motorsports.

  3. Suitcase Jake says

    William is quite a versatile Driver.. Wins at Hickory on old..old bumpy surface 1/3 rd mile in a Super Late Model Saturday .. Turns around Sunday and leads a bunch of laps and Wins on new new bumpy surface 1.5 mile high bank track .. Was surprised it was only his third Win in the # 24 He has many many more to catch up to the great Jeff Gordon with 93 , Gordon really came up Huge in the Crown Jewel Races with 16 ….(three Daytona 500s, four Talladega 500s, three Coca-Cola 600s, and six Southern 500s), both of which are all-time records.
    Not to mention the 4 Brickyard 400 Indy Wins …. I don’t think Byron can catch the Kid….

  4. Not sure if about mission accomplished or not, but i get it.
    Phoenix looked a lot like the Phoenix of past to me.
    Here, at Atlanta, it was a leaning curve for everything imo . The drivers and crews trying to adjust to new car, new surface and new track configuration, with a superspeedway package.
    And oh yeah, lets throw in the wild card of Goodyear issues. I watched both the xfinity and truck races, and they looked like superspeedway races of the past to me. Same issues. However, That “funnel” if you will, of 4+ wide down the straight, into a 2 wide corner, well, that is crazy at those speeds.
    But the mantra has been “taxi cab” series. I’ll give it to nascar, they are shaking it up, albeit playing with car and track owners money….

  5. They should have put out of bounds lower in the corners, there was plenty of room left. Agree with Dareals, but for different reasons, Fallwell is a big source of mis- information both with covid, and the past election. We can’t let these liars prosper. Back to the racing was really hoping Chastain got his first win, he is fun to watch, and goes all in every lap. It will be interesting to see these cars in a road course next weekend.

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