William Byron Scores Victory In Rain Shortened Atlanta Cup Series Race

 William Byron waits on the grid during a weather delay of the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

HAMPTON, Ga. – Neither an early spin nor damage to his No. 24 Chevrolet could prevent William Byron from winning Sunday night’s rain-shortened Quaker State 400 Available at Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  

With a storm approaching the 1.54-mile track, Byron surged past AJ Allmendinger into the lead on Lap 167 and remained out from until an accident in Turn 3 involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece and Bubba Wallace caused the seventh caution of the evening on Lap 178. 

With Byron out front, the NASCAR Cup Series cars circled the track until the rain arrived and began falling more heavily. NASCAR brought the cars to pit road and red-flagged the race at 9:47 p.m. after 185 laps were complete. 

With severe weather moving into the area, the sanctioning body called the race and made Byron the first four-time winner in the series this season. The victory was Byron’s second at Atlanta and the eighth of his career.  

Daniel Suárez was second when NASCAR called the race, with Allmendinger running third. Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch completed the top five. 

Crew chief Rudy Fugle called Byron to pit road on Lap 125 under caution for a pileup in Turn 2 that damaged the cars of Erik Jones, Ross Chastain, Corey LaJoie, Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Gibbs. 

That enabled Byron to restart fourth on Lap 165 after roughly half the field (cars that had not pitted since Lap 95) came to pit road on Lap 161. Two laps later, Byron had the lead. 

Byron hardly looked like a winner after spinning through the grass on Lap 80 and losing a lap getting to pit road. But the 25-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., regained the lost circuit as the beneficiary under caution for Kyle Larson’s spin on Lap 92.  

“It’s cool, man,” Byron said. “We went through so much throughout the night—spinning through the infield, destroyed the bottom of the car dragging it around the apron trying to stay on the lead lap. At that point, you just don’t have the grip, so I was real edgy back in traffic, but Rudy made a good call to pit there and then stay out. 

“Once we got towards the front, it was OK. We could make the right decisions, block OK, and I got the lead from AJ and was able to manage the run. Just a crazy night.” 

The race was a boon not only for Byron, who leads the Playoff standings, but for winless drivers around the Playoff bubble. First, there was no new winner in the series to reduce the number of spots available on points. 

Moreover, Suárez, Allmendinger and McDowell improved their chances with top-five finishes. Those three drivers all gained ground on Chase Elliott, who is trying to qualify for the Playoffs despite missing seven of the 19 races this season. 

Elliott wasn’t a factor on Sunday night, failing to earn any stage points and finishing 13th

Despite his early struggles, Byron was pleased that handling played such an important part in the racing on the recently repaved racing surface. 

“It was awesome—that’s all you can ask for on a superspeedway,” Byron said. “We want handling to matter. We want to be able to drive the things. I felt like the first stage was really fun. I was able to make some moves on the bottom. 

“And you’re lifting every corner, so it’s different than a 550 (horsepower) old-style race. It’s more packed up, but still handling matters, and guys can make aggressive moves… I’m thankful for the whole team and just staying in it, ‘cause we were a lap down, and it could have been over.” 

The race started with team owner Richard Childress driving pace laps in the No. 29 Chevrolet that launched Kevin Harvick’s career with an Atlanta win after Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001. It wasn’t Harvick’s night, however. After a late spin, he finished 30th in his final run at Atlanta. Harvick is retiring from Cup racing at the end of the season. 


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    MY GOD, Ryan Preece can’t get any racing Luck , Should have been a top 10 finish… Every time he pitted he drove it right back up to the 7th – 12th area .. at the end he went from 20th to 9th and looked strong until getting spun by His old teammate RS # 47 … So frustrating… when will his luck turn around…?? Oh wait … NHIS is next week..maybe the home cooking will be the recipe Ryan needs to get a top 5 or 10 or Win ….The team has shown consistently better these 5 or 6 weeks… Too bad things went bad at Atlanta where he should have had a top 10 …..Car seemed stronger as the race went along… They are making the right adjustments… LET’S GO !!!! First Win in NH would be Fantastic !!!

  2. DANG!

    Right after Preece gets caught in somebody else’s mess, falls out of the top 10, and then race gets called.


    The 41 was running pretty good, making slow but steady gains. Was able to make it up to the top 10. Without incident or mistake, it was looking like the 41 could have had a top 10 race.

  3. I’m a racing novice. Question for the experts. Is Preece suffering from just awful luck or is there something he can do to avoid these gut shots week after week? Why won’t anyone work with him? Yesterday it seemed like he was constantly being shuffled back because no one would work with him which is weird because he usually runs so clean. Its almost like he runs too clean and other drivers take advantage of that. I dont know. Just so frustrated. Cant imagine how he feels. Hope they give him another shot in 2024.

  4. Yup. Stunk for Preece.
    But I gotta say, that was some of the best non-restrictor plate, restrictor plate racing I’ve seen in quite a while. A chess match at 180+ mph. Ive never seen so many dive moves stick. Yup, I’m sure there will be the usual detractors, but that was one hell of a cup race, albiet rain shortened.

    But yeah, Preece needs a better horse shoe.

  5. Kevin, good points. I second your emotion. Yesterday, it seemed he was moving into the wrong line most of the time when he was shuffled back, but made up for it. He needs to keep his foot in it and let people know he’s coming. He does seem to be a bit too polite.

    At this point, Preece appears to be the best car at SHR. He’s gotten much better, the bad luck has slowed down, and yesterday’s race was pretty good until that accident.

  6. Kevin;
    So its really hard to tell from the lack of coverage preece and others get if you are not running top 6.
    But a few times early on, when I could see him on screen , what I saw it wasn’t as much that nobody would work with him, it was more that his car wasn’t hooked up enough to hang with anybody. Again, small sample size, but it just seemed like he could not hang on the back of anybody, and that separation got him going backwards. Near the end of stage 2, they had the car much better, but I’m not sure how much he could have progressed, if at all, if he ducked out to another line at that point. And you know? I would have been thrilled to see him bring it home 7th or 8th, instead of what resulted.
    I could be wrong, and that’s fine, its just the way I saw it unfold.

  7. I watched the race last night. That is two in a row now. I am officially a Nascar fan I guess. The racing was good. It was entertaining. I did see Preece on the tv several times. I was actually screaming at the tv. Why are you pitting Preece? They are talking about rain coming, keep showing a green blob inching closer and closer to the track. You weren’t in dire need of fuel. You were 35 ;laps better than the 34 who stayed out and was rewarded with a top 10 finish for driving around on fumes. I can say hindsight is 20-20 but that seemed like a good odds to stay out. There was little doubt the race would be rain shortened. You aren’t going to make it on points you need to sneak out a win. I think last night was an opportunity wasted. Then he gets spun by his former car. Just cant catch a break. Another good run with absolutely nothing to show for it. There have been too many of them this year. Its great to have a rooting interest in Nascar. I haven’t had a driver to pull for since Steve Park.

  8. Csg;
    I agree. I really thought when they pitted that last time, that it was a mistake. Take a shot at this point. He had the fuel to make the stage. If I’m not mistaken, he was running 9th or 10th when they made that call to bring him in. The only thing i can figure is that the car still wasn’t where they needed it to be, and maybe they figured they would get freight trained after the caution. Not sure. Or there was an issue we don’t know about.
    Secondly, I’m with you on Steve park. Jees, he was lightning quick in anything he drove prior to that accident with Foyt, while in his prime. Just a shame. What could have been.

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