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Jim Utter

William Byron passes Bubba Wallace late to steal Texas Cup win

After watching his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson – who dominated most of the race – wreck out late, Byron got around Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe on a restart with five of 267 laps remaining to take the lead for the first time.

Byron, 25, then held off a late charge by Ross Chastain and cleared him by 1.863 seconds to take the win – team owner Rick Hendrick’s 300th Cup victory.

The win was Byron’s series-leading sixth of the season, 10th of his career and he advances to the semifinal round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes in the next two races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

“Man, that’s badass. I finally got a good restart at the end,” said Byron. “Just ooh, it was hot today. I think it’s finally hitting me. But No. 300 for Hendrick Motorsports.

“Kyle (Larson) really deserved this one, got to say. Those guys were really fast all day and hate it for them at the end. It was awesome to get our car to the front. I loved clean air. We just fought through traffic all day and our (car) was just tight back in traffic but had good pace.

“This was one of those hot days, it felt like I was playing football and went through two-a-days, just wanted to quit. It was a grind it out day and our team was there at the end. I'm really proud of this one as hot as it was and as tough as it was.”

Wallace ended up third, Christopher Bell was fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Completing the top-10 were Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Briscoe.

With two races left in the Round of 12, the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of elimination from the playoffs are Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick and Wallace, who is just two points behind the cutline.

Stage 1

In a one-lap dash to the finish, Reddick held off Chris Buescher to take the win in an eventful Stage 1. Bell was third, Byron fourth and Michael McDowell fifth.

Kyle Busch spun and wrecked with less than seven laps to go in the stage and was knocked out of the race.

Stage 2

Larson ran down Wallace for the lead with 22 laps to go and held off Erik Jones to claim the Stage 2 win. Hamlin was third, Blaney fourth and Buescher rounded out the top five.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all elected to pit with Larson the first off pit road. When the race resumed with 96 laps remaining, Larson led Jones, Hamlin and Blaney.

Just as a final round of green flag pit stops was beginning with less than 60 laps to go, Suarez spun entering pit road for his stop and got stalled in the frontstretch grass, which brought out a caution.

The remainder of the field pit under the caution with Larson first off pit road. Blaney was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field. Larson led Jones on the restart with 53 laps to go.

With 25 laps to go, J.J. Yeley spun off Turn 2 and backed his car hard into the wall which brought out the ninth caution of the race and sent several lead-lap cars down pit road for new tires.

Larson remained on the track and in the lead, but Hamlin, Jones and Keselowski were among those who pit for two new tires. Larson led Wallace and Byron with 20 to go.

On the restart, Wallace got to the outside of Larson and raced him side-by-side when the back end of Larson’s car got loose, and he slammed into the Turn 1 wall.

The damage to Larson’s sent him to the garage and out of the race. Wallace led Byron and Briscoe with 13 laps remaining.

Reddick and Jones both slammed the Turn 4 wall on the restart, which triggered a multi-car wreck that also collected A.J. Allmendinger, Blaney, Austin Cindric and Zane Smith. The race resumed with Wallace ahead of Byron and Briscoe with six laps to go.

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