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William Byron Gets His Redemption at Darlington

Image: Matt Kelley/AP Photo

As the night drew closer on a cloudy Sunday evening in Darlington on May 8th, 2022, Joey Logano was celebrating his victory. William Byron was being forced to accept the fact that he was two laps away from victory at Darlington last year. This year, as Byron and the field rolled into Darlington from Kansas, there were several storylines brewing. The questions were if Byron could get his redemption at Darlington and if Ross Chastain would make even more headlines. Those questions were answered this past weekend.

Byron Breaks Through to get his Darlington Win:

Last season, the Darlington Spring race seemed that William Byron was going to steal the win from Joey Logano. However, that didn’t happen. A late race bump and run from Logano to Byron allowed Logano to get past Byron for the win. That finish was burnt into Byron’s mind, especially with returning to the same track this past weekend. It seemed that Byron wasn’t going to be in contention for the win throughout the day. After a late-race incident with Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson, got Byron the lead and the opportunity to win at Darlington. That’s exactly what he did. Byron earned his seventh career victory and the first for Byron at Darlington. This is also the 100th win for the Hendrick Motorsports #24 car. But this win by Byron is not the big headline coming out from Darlington.

Ross Chastain vs Kyle Larson Round Two:

As NASCAR headed into Darlington, all eyes were on Ross Chastain. Last week, Chastain was making headlines once again by defending himself in a post-race fight against Noah Gragson. From Barstool Sports to the Pat McAfee show, Chastain became the star of the show once again. Coming into Darlington, Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain were the overall favorites to win on Sunday. Larson has been close several times in the past at Darlington and has been fast every race the past few weeks. It seemed that it was going to be Larson’s day on Sunday. As the race restarted with six laps to go, Larson and Chastain were on the front row together. What transpired was exactly what everyone thought was going to happen. Both Chastain and Larson wrecked each other in turn one. This took each other out of contention for the win.

Ross Chastain continues to hold the NASCAR world in the palm of his hand. But now, team owners are starting to speak out about his aggressive nature on track. Rick Hendrick, car owner for Larson and Byron, had some strong words for Chastain in the media center post-race. Drivers have been calling out Chastain’s aggressive racing, but now Rich Hendrick has called Chastain out. This is a huge development in the recent storylines of Ross Chastain. It was also later revealed Monday evening on SiriusXM Channel 90, in an interview with Chastain’s car owner, Justin Marks, that Marks and Chastain would work together on his aggressive racing. It’s bad enough that other drivers are calling out Chastain. But now Chastain’s car owner has said that he needs to work on his racing style. However, this coming weekend’s race is one place where we will see aggressive racing no matter what.

The Return of North Wilkesboro:

September 29th, 1996. Fans thought that this date would live in NASCAR history forever. This was the last official NASCAR Cup Series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. The winner was Jeff Gordon, but nobody cared about that. For the foreseeable future, North Wilkesboro Speedway was shutting down. The fans and the drivers were very upset, but this was the ultimate decision. Now, almost 27 years later, NASCAR will return to North Wilkesboro for the All-Star Race. This event is the most hyped-up All-Star Race in years. It has been rumored for years that North Wilkesboro was going to make a comeback in NASCAR, and the time has finally come. If this event goes well on Sunday night, it would be more than likely North Wilkesboro gets a points-paying event on the 2024 Cup Series schedule.

That being said, who is a safe bet to win a million bucks Sunday night? Well, it’s hard to pick a safe driver for Sunday considering the last race at North Wilkesboro was 27 years ago. But it would not be unlikely to see Denny Hamlin at the front Sunday evening. Hamlin has 11 races at short tracks throughout his career. Most of them have come at Martinsville, the closest track in similarities to North Wilkesboro. If there is one driver in the field to place a safe bet on, it would be Denny Hamlin.

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