Pole to checkered flag: Byron dominates NASCAR's 1st road course race of season, wins at COTA

AUSTIN, Texas — William Bryon started on pole and delivered a dominant drive Sunday to win NASCAR's first road course race of the season at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Daytona 500 winner snatched his second win of the season and delivered the fourth in six races for Chevrolet. The Hendrick Motorsports driver led 42 of 68 laps and held off a hard-charging run from Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell over the final two laps.

Bell shaved nearly three seconds of Byron's lead to create some late drama before Byron slammed the door over the final corners. Byron earned career win No. 12.

The Circuit of the Americas, a track built for Formula One, has been the opening road course race for NASCAR each of the last four seasons. And unlike the crash-filled triple-overtime race of 2023, Sunday's race was mostly incident free as Byron made easy work of the field.

Byron led 23 laps of the first two stages, but found himself quickly dropped to third at the start of the final stage as Ross Chastain, who won at COTA in 2022, jumped to the front.

Byron fought back to pass him with 25 laps to go and both cars pitted on the same lap. Chastain then got hung up in traffic on the reentry and fell several cars behind.

That gave Byron the chance to open the gap he needed to keep Bell behind him at the end. Ty Gibbs, the 21-year-old grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, finished third after getting passed by Bell.

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