Byron grabs surprise Daytona 500 victory amid late caution confusion

The Daytona 500 concluded an eventful race with a surprise winner, as chaos erupted behind the leader on the final lap. The Daytona 500, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series opener, witnessed a shocking finish as William Byron, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, grabbed the lead on the final restart and held on for the win. The finish was marred by a multi-car crash behind Byron, which forced NASCAR to throw a caution that froze the field and handed Byron the unexpected victory.

Byron, who had never finished better than 21st in the season opener, took the lead from Ross Chastain on a restart with four of 200 laps remaining. Chastain led much of the race, but Byron, 24, navigated the unpredictable final stage to take the checkered flag. It was the 302nd Cup win for Hendrick Motorsports, which celebrated its 40th anniversary on Monday.

Earlier in the race on lap 192, the contest was red-flagged when Byron hooked Brad Keselowski entering Turn 3, which sent Keselowski up the track and into Joey Logano and triggered a huge wreck that collected 23 cars. NASCAR red-flagged the race for nearly 16 minutes to clean the track of debris. Several cars elected to pit, but Chastain remained on the track and in the lead. On the restart with four laps remaining, Chastain led the way followed by Byron, Bowman, and Cindric, but Byron quickly powered to the lead after the restart before the clash that ended the race.

Byron, in just his 11th Cup win, credited his team's strategy throughout the race in getting him in position for the win. "We laid back and tried to save fuel for most of the race and got up there at the end of the stages and made some moves," said Byron. "Thankful for great power under the hood, everybody that allows us to do this."

Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, Corey LaJoie, and Bubba Wallace rounded out the top five. A.J. Allmendinger, John Hunter Nemechek, Erik Jones, Noah Gragson, and Chase Briscoe completed the top 10. Following the race, Byron expressed his disappointment over the melee that ended the race, stating that he hates what happened on the final backstretch. He dedicated the win to his father, who is ill and reminisced about sitting with his father in the grandstands years ago to watch the Daytona 500. The NASCAR Cup Series continues with the Camping World Duel 1 and Camping World Duel 2 on Thursday, followed by the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 on Friday.

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