NASCAR Cup Series

Cup Series struggles to pass as William Byron wins Martinsville

2 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martinsville Speedway is a much beloved circuit on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, but Saturday’s race was generally considered a letdown. Due to factors like colder track and tyre temperatures, rain washing away rubber accumulated on the racing surface, and perhaps the Next Gen car itself, the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 was a very tame event with just five lead changes, all of which came during cautions or pit cycles. Hendrick Motorsports team-mates Chase Elliott and William Byron led all but six of the 403 laps, with the latter doing so for 212 circuits en route to his first win at Martinsville and second of 2022.

Elliott won the pole ahead of Aric Almirola, but Almirola and much of the field were non-factors. Save for a rain delay, the first two stages were completely free of incident as Elliott led every lap to win both. Byron beat Elliott out of the pits on lap 186 to finally mark the first lead change of the race.

Ryan Blaney finally broke the Hendrick stranglehold on the lead when he inherited the lead from a pitting Byron on lap 304. He pitted himself five laps later and Byron reclaimed the lead before Denny Hamlin brought out the caution after falling off pace. Austin Dillon got to lead a lap under yellow before Byron re-assumed the top position.

Almost as if a last-ditch effort by the racing deities to spice up the race, Todd Gilliland slammed into the wall with five laps remaining to set up overtime. Byron and Logano led the field to start the session, and the former had the run on the inside to clear Logano though Logano remained close after Byron briefly ran wide. Despite a shot to Byron’s rear on the final lap, Logano could not get by him.

Byron, who won the Camping World Truck Series race on Thursday, is the first Cup driver of 2022 to win multiple races after triumphing at Atlanta in March. He also continues a decorated legacy for the #24 at Martinsville; current Hendrick vice chairman Jeff Gordon has nine wins at the track with the number.

“I couldn’t ever relax,” said Byron in his post-race press conference. “I saved tyre by just not sliding the tyres, but I never could back up and save tyre and things like that. But I think it’s just really cold temps. Anytime it’s below forty degrees (Fahrenheit), I’d say the tyres don’t even lay rubber. That was definitely a factor all night.”

Race results

1524William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet403Running
21422Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord403Running
3233Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet403Running
41212Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord403Running
5271Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet403Running
61845Kurt Busch23XI RacingToyota403Running
71118Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota403Running
8210Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord403Running
91914Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord403Running
1019Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet403Running
11132Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord403Running
121548Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet403Running
132443Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet403Running
1464Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord403Running
15417Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord403Running
162123Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota403Running
1796Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord403Running
18228Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet403Running
1985Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet403Running
20720Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota402Running
21341Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord402Running
222019Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota401Running
233442Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet401Running
243616A.J. Allmendinger*Kaulig RacingChevrolet401Running
251634Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord400Running
262921Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord400Running
272847Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet400Running
282511Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
293099Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet399Running
301038Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord399Running
311731Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet398Running
32267Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet397Running
333551Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord394Running
343215J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord392Running
353177Josh Bilicki*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet391Running
363378B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsFord132Handling
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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