It has been a strange NASCAR season so far, and William Byron added to the drama Sunday, winning the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Byron, who won his second NASCAR Cup Series race, became the third straight upset winner this year. Byron won Stage 2 in a shootout, and then dominated Stage 3 to win the race.
It was another day of surprises for NASCAR as Tyler Reddick finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick. Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell continued his surprising start, finishing sixth. Ryan Newman was seventh, followed by Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch.
Byron has made the NASCAR playoffs the past two years, but his only career victory was in the August oval-track race at Daytona last year. He started 31st Sunday but quickly made his way to the front.
"Get used to winning, boys," Bryon told his crew after taking the checkered flag.
How did William Byron win the NASCAR race at Homestead?
Byron lost the lead on pit road with 62 laps remaining, but quickly charged past leaders Larson and Truex to regain the lead and pull away. He led 102 laps and won by more than four seconds. It was his first win with new crew chief Rudy Fugle.
"It's just awesome. This whole team did a phenonemal job — pit crew, over the wall," Byron said. "I think God for all the things it takes to get to this level. ... I can't even believe it, honestly. It was just a really smooth day."
The NASCAR race was fairly clean, but a late wreck damaged the cars of two playoff contenders when Aric Almirola and Ryan Blaney collided with 67 laps remaining. Both drivers fell a lap down in the race.
Denny Hamlin also had an eventful day. Hamlin was supposed to start on the pole, but had to drop to the rear of the field at the start for making unapproved adjustments to his car prior to the race. He raced his way through the field and was running third when he was nabbed for speeding on pit road with 65 laps to go. Hamlin rallied a, however, to finish 11th.
Kurt Busch also had a bad break. He ran in the top five and top 10 all day, but had to pit for a vibration while running fourth with 40 laps to go.
Things were supposed to get back to normal in the NASCAR Cup Series race on the 1.5-mile track, yet some surprise contenders emerged early in the race. Roush Fenway Racing's Chris Buescher drove his No. 17 Ford into the top 10 early and passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on Lap 53. Four laps later, William Byron passed Keselowski for second. Buescher later passed Keselowski again to win Stage 1. His 23 laps led in Stage 1 were the most he had ever led in a Cup race.
Byron won Stage 2, racing past leaders Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. on a late-stage restart.