Byron wins 2024 DAYTONA 500, Hendrick Motorsports finishes 1-2

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – William Byron was victorious in the 2024 DAYTONA 500 – 40 years to the day that Hendrick Motorsports made its first NASCAR Cup Series start in 1984. 

Byron took the white flag at Daytona International Speedway and seconds later two cars went spinning through the infield following contact. With the caution coming out, Byron earned his first DAYTONA 500 win and 11th victory in the Cup Series. The win vaults Hendrick Motorsports into a tie (with Petty Enterprises) for the most triumphs by a team in “The Great American Race” and the organization is the first to win the crown jewel event in five different decades. 

“I am just so proud of this team – this whole No. 24 Axalta Chevy team,” Byron said. “Winning on the 40th anniversary to the day (of Hendrick Motorsports’ first race). Extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities. We just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year and this is a good start.

“The DAYTONA 500. It’s freaking awesome. Let’s go.”

SHOP: William Byron DAYTONA 500 gear | PHOTOS: Scenes from victory lane

Alex Bowman took second to give the Rick Hendrick-owned team a 1-2 finish in the DAYTONA 500. Kyle Larson placed 11th, while Chase Elliott finished 14th. 

Three of the four Hendrick Motorsports cars escaped damage following a big wreck with eight laps to go. Larson suffered a flat tire in the incident but could continue. The Hendrick Motorsports trio of Byron, Bowman and Elliott restarted in the first three rows with Byron controlling the inside lane for the final restart on lap 197. Byron edged ahead of Ross Chastain with four laps to go and was holding off several hard chargers before the final caution came out after the white flag. The win is also the 26-year-old driver’s second at Daytona as his first win came in the summer race in 2020. 

“He was already a superstar,” team vice chairman Jeff Gordon said of Byron. “He just went to another level of being a superstar.

“I wasn’t driving the car, but I feel like I was making every lap with him out there. It’s just crazy to watch these guys do what they do, do it so well and to watch them from this side of it. It makes me so happy, so proud. We’re going to celebrate. This is an amazing win, a huge win.”

PHOTOS: Recap all of Byron’s wins See every win for iconic No. 24

Byron’s four laps led in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 all came at the end of the race. Starting at the back of the field for moving to a backup car, he was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to score stage points in the opening two stages as he finished fifth in stage one and sixth in stage two. In the final stage, Byron methodically worked through the draft to get into the top 10 after restarting the last segment in 21st. After pitting for fuel only with 19 laps to go, he rejoined the race in eighth and rode the middle lane to get into second with Bowman behind him before the caution for “The Big One” came out with eight laps to go. 

“You just don’t know how these races are going to end and you have to try to put yourself in a great spot,” Byron said. “I felt like our team did a great job all day just putting ourselves in position and it’s pretty incredible.”

RELATED: Key numbers to know for Hendrick Motorsports

Bowman’s second-place finish marks his best result in the DAYTONA 500 and is his second straight top-five finish at the 2.5-mile track. Starting the race in the seventh position, the 30-year-old driver noted he was a little free in the opening stage and was able to finish fourth. In stage two, Bowman placed 18th as the No. 48 Ally Racing team elected to protect their car for the final stage with the pack getting dicey. Bowman spent much of the final stage in the top 10, using the inside lane to his advantage to gain spots. After getting up to third for the final restart, Bowman chose the outside lane behind Chastain. He was unable to run down his teammate before the end of the race. 

“Proud of William (Byron) and his team. They deserved it there at the end,” Bowman said. “They did all the right things and I feel like we did too there at the end. Had to go up and block the top lane and that just hurt the middle for a bit. We got the middle back rolling and then they all started crashing. 

“Proud of everybody on this No. 48 Ally Chevy team. Super pumped for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. It’s 40 years to the day since the first Hendrick Motorsports race, so really cool to see William in victory lane.”

RELATED: ‘Hendrick Homecoming’ announced for May 24-25

Larson rallied from a late-race flat tire to finish 11th in the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 31-year-old driver started 17th and checked up to avoid a crash on lap 6. He battled Elliott for the stage one win, ultimately finishing second in the opening segment. In the second stage, Larson held the lead for seven laps, but different lines he was trying stalled out. He finished the stage in 16th. The 2021 Cup Series champion was in the mix in the final stage — running as high as fifth. He got shuffled out of the lead pack with 15 laps to go and took on a little damage in the wreck on lap 193. After restarting 15th, he finished just outside the top 10. 

“The first stage went well and then the next two stages just got caught in the wrong lanes at pivotal points and lost track position,” Larson said. I was able to miss that big wreck mostly. Got a left, front flat from sliding them and had to pit. Awesome to have a Hendrick (Motorsports) Chevrolet win that race and cool to see William win.”

Starting fifth, Elliott led the first laps of the season for Hendrick Motorsports and drove the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to a stage one win. The opening stage saw the organization finish first, second, fourth and fifth. The 28-year-old driver grabbed the lead from Kyle Busch on the final lap of the segment to get the stage win. The second stage saw the inside lane that the 2020 Cup Series champion was running get squirreled up and lose momentum. He regained track position after a fuel-only stop but again lost ground on the inside lane and finished 19th in the stage. He recovered in the final stage to spend much of it in the top 15. While Elliott had a little contact from the big wreck with eight to go, he expertly avoided any major damage. That set him up to restart fifth and on the top lane with four laps to go. In the closing run to the finish, the outside lane lost momentum and Elliott got hung out in a third lane to finish 14th.

PHOTOS: Look back at every Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports

“I made a mistake there on the last lap and not sure I would have got to the front row, but certainly would have been a better finish for us,” Elliott said. “I hate that because we had a solid day otherwise. Happy for William to kick off the 40th year of Hendrick Motorsports with the win.”                                   

Following the race at Daytona, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the top seven in the point standings. Byron ranks first, Bowman is second, Elliott is fourth and Larson sits in seventh. 

RELATED: Looking back at Hendrick Motorsports’ first Cup start

Monday, Feb. 19, marked the 40th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports’ first Cup Series start, which came in 1984 DAYTONA 500. Driver Geoff Bodine drove the No. 5 car for the team, which went by All-Star Racing, to an eighth-place finish for team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Harry Hyde. The 2024 season marks the organization’s 40th anniversary.

“You couldn’t write the script any better, 24 in ’24,” Hendrick said. “When we thought about coming down here the first time (In 1984) we didn’t think we should be here and felt so out of place.

“We win this on our 40th (anniversary) to the day. It’s just — and tied a record now, so that’s awesome.”

Byron is now the sixth driver to win the DAYTONA 500 for Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon’s three wins (1997, 1999 and 2005) are the most for the organization. Jimmie Johnson has two wins (2006 and 2013), while Bodine (1986), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) and Darrell Waltrip (1989) each picked up one apiece for the squad. The six different drivers to win for one team in the DAYTONA 500 are the most for one organization. 

See every DAYTONA 500 winner at Hendrick Motorsports

The Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second points-paying race of 2024 and the second straight race to utilize the superspeedway package. Hendrick Motorsports has a series-best 17 wins at the 1.54-mile track. Since the venue underwent a reprofiling and reconfiguration before the 2022 season, the organization has won three of the last four races. Byron has two of those victories, while Elliott has one. Tune in to all the action on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). 

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