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Byron Gets First Career Cup Win At Daytona

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Hendrick Motorsports William Byron picked up is first career NASCAR Cup Series win in overtime Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Byron took the lead from this year’s Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin on an overtime restart with two laps to go and with cars spinning out behind him, ultimately was able to hold off his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott by .119-seconds.  The victory makes Byron playoff eligible.

“You couldn’t have picked a more pressure-packed race,” said Byron.  “When you’re at a superspeedway, the running order changes every two laps practically, it’s incredible to put that much pressure on a couple of points. You really can’t points race, which I think is probably what they want us to do. They want us to go for wins, try to compete hard. It was a perfect format for that.  I’m fortunate that worked out for us. I probably would have been frustrated if it didn’t. It really forces your hand to go for the win. You just got to go all out. Pretty incredible.”

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The victory locked Byron into NASCAR’s Playoffs along with Matt DiBenedetto of Wood Brothers Racing.

One driver who did not make the playoffs was Jimmie Johnson, who was caught up in a late race accident.

“First and foremost, congratulations to my teammate for getting his first Cup win like that,” Johnson said. “This setting and the drama that goes into it, that’s a big win for [crew chief] Chad Knaus and William Byron, really happy for those guys.  I really feel like we had a way to transfer to win or point our way in the way it went the first two stages and things just got ugly in Turn 1. Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.”

The 10-race NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs begin next Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

NASCAR

Kevin Harvick and William Byron On NASCAR Cup Series Front Row At Vegas

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will start first and Hendrick Motorsports will start along side in second for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The starting lineup was set by NASCAR’s ‘performance matrix’.

Kyle Larson has another Hendrick Chevy up front as he’ll start in the third position with the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr in fourth.

A pair of Daytona 500 winners will make up the third row with Michael McDowell and Denny Hamlin fifth and sixth respectively.

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch will start seventh with defending Cup Series Champion Chase Elliott alongside in the eighth starting spot.

Busch’s CGR teammate Ross Chastain will start 21st in the No. 42 Clover Chevrolet and Latrobe PA favorite-son Garrett Smithley will start 31st.

Cup Series Vegas Lineup

Editor’s Note – Don’t forget to take part in Pittsburgh Racing Now’s Weekly ‘Who’s Going To Win The Race?’ Twitter Poll:

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NASCAR

AJ Allmendinger Beats Daniel Hemric To Win NASCAR Xfinity Alsco Uniforms 300

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Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – AJ Allmendinger held off Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Hemric to win Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hemric was the leader on the final restart with 13-laps remaining.  Hemric chose the outside with Allmendinger on the inside. Brandon Jones lined up in third behind his JGR teammate.  JR Motorsports Noah Gragson was on the inside on row two.

Allmendinger cleared Hemric coming off of turn two and led the field into turn three and four.  Allmendinger ran low in turn one on the next lap coming off on the high side as he pulled out to a .37-second lead and slowly pulled away from the field.

“The victory is very important but I take more pride with how we’ve run as an organization,” said Allmendinger of his Kauling Racing team. “I’d rather run like this and get win than kind of run mediocre and maybe steal one somehow, that does us no good in the long run.”

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The victory was the sixth career Xfinity Series victory for Allmendinger and locks him into the NASCAR Playoffs later in the year. Allmendinger led three times for 44-laps including the final 12-circuits to win the race.  Allmendinger traded in a partial schedule to run full-time for Kaulig Racing and was fired up after the race to pick up with win.

“When I launched I actually got too far out,” lamented Hemric, who chose the top lane on the final restart.  “The bottom lane got linked up and had so much momentum when I turned down to side-draft I was on the splitter.”

Brandon Jones finished third followed by Austin Cindric in fourth and Noah Gragson in fifth.

Xfinity Las Vegas Results

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NASCAR

John Hunter Nemechek Wins NASCAR Truck Series Bucked Up 400 At Las Vegas

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – John Hunter Nemechek held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch to win Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bucked Up 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The victory was the first truck series win in four seasons for Nemechek, who returned to the series to compete full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“It’s great to be back in victory lane,” said Nemechek. “Everyone at KBM, they gave us one heck of truck tonight.  Kyle’s truck was really fast as well.  Luckily we were able to execute on that restart at the end and put ourselves in position to be leading and win this thing.”

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“It’s perfect, it’s all you can ask for, it’s everything,” said Busch of his team after the race. “It’s cool to see the four-truck in Victory Lane and see John Hunter have a shot and get back in Victory Lane.”

Austin Hill finished third followed by Stewart Friesen in fourth and Matt Crafton in fifth.

Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Parker Kligerman, Christian Eckes and Ben Rhodes – a two-time winner already this season – rounded out the top 10.

The series next race is the Fr8Auctions 200 on March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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