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William Byron won the Daytona 500 with an agonizing final lap under a caution flag. He took the checkered flag on Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas at full throttle after starting from pole position and delivering a dominant drive in NASCAR’s first road course race of the season. The young driver led 42 of 68 laps and built a big lead to hold off a hard-charging run from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell over the final two laps. Bell shaved nearly three seconds off Byron’s lead to create some late drama before Byron secured the victory in a tight finish.

Byron, a self-taught racer who used computer equipment to hone his skills, earned his 12th career win and second on a road course. The Circuit of the Americas, a track built for Formula One, has been the first road course for NASCAR each of the last four seasons. Unlike the crash-filled triple-overtime race of 2023, Sunday’s race was mostly incident-free as Byron made easy work of the field. He led 23 laps of the first two stages and fought back to pass Ross Chastain, who won at COTA in 2022, to secure the victory over Bell.

The course had few track limits, but penalties were enforced by race officials, including on Chase Elliott who drove out of bounds and was forced to do a pit lane drive-thru. This penalty took him out of contention when he rejoined in 16th place. Ford drivers struggled on the road course, with Chris Buescher being the top Ford driver in eighth place. Despite the challenges faced by some drivers, the race was relatively incident-free and thrilling for fans.

The Circuit of the Americas is the only track to host both NASCAR and F1, and all signs point to the stock cars coming back next year. Circuit of the Americas President Bobby Epstein hinted at a deal for NASCAR to return in 2025, with Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports, also planning a return. The series moves to short track racing at Richmond Raceway in Virginia next Sunday, continuing the excitement and unpredictability of the NASCAR season.

Overall, William Byron’s victory at the Circuit of the Americas showcased his skill and determination on the road course, overcoming challenges from other top drivers like Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain. The race was relatively incident-free, with penalties enforced for drivers who exceeded track limits. Ford drivers struggled on the road course, but are hopeful for better results in upcoming races. The promise of NASCAR returning to the Circuit of the Americas in 2025 adds to the excitement of the season, with fans eager for more thrilling races to come in the series.

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