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2024 Daytona 500 Champion: William Byron

Daytona. The racing capital of the world. February begins the start of a new season for NASCAR. There is no better place to win in NASCAR. This past weekend, the sport held its most prestigious race, the Daytona 500. It is the one race that you want to win if you’re a driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. Two weeks ago, the season kicked off with The Clash at The Coliseum in Los Angeles. Two weeks later, the NASCAR Cup Series season is officially back in action. Let’s discuss this past weekend’s events in Daytona.

A Wacky but fun weekend in Daytona:

The Daytona 500 wasn’t the only race over the weekend as all three national touring series for NASCAR, as well as ARCA kicked their 2024 seasons off. On Friday evening, it was announced that the ARCA race would be moved up to Friday night, right after the Truck race. This was due to the forecasted rain all day Saturday and Sunday. For the Truck Series race, it was a race of survival. With a record number of 12 cautions, there were several torn-up Trucks by the end of the night. Nick Sanchez survived to win his first career Truck Series race, as chaos unfolded behind him Rajah Caruth, triggered a massive last-lap crash that would see Taylor Gray upside down. Everyone would walk away unharmed. Much like the Truck Series race, the ARCA race was chaos.

Ending just after 1:00 AM Saturday, it was Gus Dean winning his third career ARCA race as more chaos took place behind him. Entering turn three on the last lap, there was another massive crash ending the race. Everyone would be okay. As previously said, there was rain forecasted for all day both Saturday and Sunday. The Xfinity Series race was postponed from Saturday evening to Monday morning initially. But more rain on Monday morning prevented that from happening and delayed the Xfinity Series race to Monday night. Eventually, after the Daytona 500 on Monday afternoon, the Xfinity race got underway. It was Austin Hill winning his third season-opening race in a row at Daytona. But what about the main event? Let’s discuss what happened in the Daytona 500.

A new Daytona 500 Champion is crowned:

After waiting 26 long hours after the initial starting time, it was time to kick off the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season. This is NASCAR’s Super Bowl. There are 36-point-paying races on the Cup Series schedule, but there is only one chance a year to win the Daytona 500. There are few Legends and Champions of the sport who haven’t won a Daytona 500. Tony Stewart and Mark Martin are some notable drivers who have never won the 500. On Wednesday evening, Joey Logano qualified on the pole for the 500, the Daytona 500 pole for Team Penske. Logano survived his Thursday night qualifying race, officially locking him in as the polesitter. As it got closer to Sunday, the speculation started swirling. What was NASCAR going to do about the weather? Early Sunday morning, it was announced that the 500 would be delayed to Monday evening.

On Monday, it was a beautiful day. With a great crowd on hand, NASCAR officially kicked off the 2024 Cup Series season on Monday evening. On lap six, Harrison Burton and Rookie, Carson Hocevar, were involved in a wreck with each other. Both young drivers would be out of the 500 early. Both the rest of stages one and two would end with no more incidents. As the laps winded down, a push gone wrong from Alex Bowman into Byron triggered a massive crash with nine laps to go. This set up a four-lap dash to the finish between Ross Chastain and Byron. Both drivers would get a good restart, it was just a matter of who could get the right pushes. Coming to the white flag, Chastain attempted to shoot the gap between Byron and Cindric, and it didn’t work out.

The caution would fly, and the question would be, who won the race? Was it William Byron or Alex Bowman? After a brief look at the replays, it was finally determined that William Byron would be the winner of the 66th Daytona 500. Now, William Byron is forever a Daytona 500 champion. You might think that this win is only special to Byron, but that is far from true. This win is special to the entire Hendrick Family. Let’s discuss why this win is so special to Hendrick Motorsports.

Why is this win special to the Hendrick Family?

If you’re a fan of NASCAR, you know why this win is special to Hendrick Motorsports. 2024 is the 40th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports initially being formed as a team. Originally started as All-Star Racing, Rick Hendrick would go on to become the most successful team owner in NASCAR history. With over 300 wins in the Cup Series alone, Hendrick Motorsports has re-written the history books over the last 40 years. It’s fitting that William Byron won the Daytona 500 on Monday. February 19th, 1984, was the date of the first race that Hendrick Motorsports participated in. 40 years later, on Monday, February 19th, 2024, William Byron won Hendrick Motorsports ninth Daytona 500. This win ties Hendrick Motorsports with Petty Enterprises for the most wins in the Daytona 500 all time.

This win is so special to Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, and the entire Hendrick family. When William Byron came up to the Cup Series, the No. 24 car was still Jeff Gordon’s number. Gordon won 93 Cup Series races and four championships in the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports. Now, Byron is starting to make his own legacy in the No. 24 car. But now, let’s move on to next week. From Daytona to another drafting track that’s on the schedule, let’s talk about Atlanta.

What to Expect from Atlanta:

Next week, NASCAR moves from Daytona to Atlanta. After the 2021 Summer Cup Series race, Atlanta was reconfigured to a hybrid between a Superspeedway and an intermediate track. This was not an immediate hit with the fans. But after a few races on the new configuration, it started to slowly grow among the fans. Expect similar racing to this past week in Daytona. Who’s the favorite heading into Atlanta? That would be the 2024 Daytona 500 Champion, William Byron. Byron has won twice on the new Atlanta configuration and won at the most recent trip to Atlanta last July. Keep an eye on young William Byron to go back-to-back in Atlanta this upcoming weekend.

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