In what’s becoming a regular sight to see in 2021, Homestead handed us another surprise winner. William Byron (24) landed his second career Cup Series victory. Something that many people were unsure of seeing after the announcement of Rudy Fugle as his new (kind of) crew chief. What began as a rough start ended with a triumphant run from the rear to lead the race coming to the checkered. Here is the recap from Homestead.
Denny Hamlin (11) was scheduled to start the race on the pole and had to start from the back after making a change before the race. Instead, Christopher Bell (20) and Joey Logano (22) led the field to green but it didn’t last as Brad Keselowski (2) quickly took the lead early. Hamlin continued to have issues in the back, as his air conditioning tube fell off of his helmet early in the stage. He never managed to get it reattached, and finished stage one in 12th. In surprising fashion, Chris Buescher (17) shot to the top of the leaderboard early. He seemed to have a really strong long run during the day, leading 57 laps and earning a stage win!
Stage two is when the Hendrick cars came to play. Chase Elliott (9) and Kyle Larson (5) started showing some speed early in the stage, but Buescher wasn’t too eager to give up the top position. Elliott seemed to have a strong short-run car, but couldn’t maintain speed once the tires fell off later in the run.
Late in the second stage, Corey LaJoie (7) had engine issues which brought out a caution. This shook up the restart Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (19), who had been pretty quiet in the race up until this point were competing for a stage win. With only a couple of turns left, Byron shot past them from fourth last minute to claim the playoff point.
William Byron goes from the second row to stage winner in the one-lap dash to finish the second stage at Homestead pic.twitter.com/EKxUL6AzKq— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 28, 2021
As it got darker, Byron seemed to get faster by the lap. Larson also had a strong run later in the night, staying up in the top three with Truex Jr. in the 19. Tyler Reddick, who many were picking to be the underdog for this race, had a huge run late in the race but it was too late. He couldn’t cleanly pass Truex and Larson in time to cut the gap between him and the leader. Ending his run with a second place finish.
Byron’s Run Away Win
Even with the strong high-side run that Reddick had late in the race. Nothing could compete with the speed that the 24 had. It seemed like no matter what line he ran in the corners, he was fast. The whole fleet of Hendrick cars were fast, all finishing in the top fifteen. Larson managed to land a solid fourth place finish, Alex Bowman (48) finished ninth, and Elliott climbed his way back to fourteenth.
The big topic from this race is Chris Buescher. Both Roush Fenway cars were extremely fast which was fairly surprising to see at a 1.5-mile track. Could this be a sign of things to come for Buescher and Newman? Or was this just a one-off good run?