William Byron Wins EchoPark GP at COTA, Larson wins Xfinity for an HMS Double

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
4 min readMar 25, 2024

24 March 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

AUSTIN, TX — William Byron managed the competition, tires, fuel, and the cool weather conditions to win the EchoPark Automotive GP today at the Circuit of the Americas road course in Auton, Texas. It was the 2nd win of the season for Byron and his Hendrick Motorsports №24 team adding to his season-opening Daytona 500 win. For the 26-year-old Charlotte native, the win Sunday means he becomes the first driver to win multiple races this season. COTA is his 12th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and gives his Hendrick team a series all-time best 28th win on NASCAR road courses.

Willam Byron Driver Profile (Image Credit: NASCAR.com)
Opening laps of the 2024 EchoPark GP at Circuit of the Americas with Pole sitter Willam Byron out front through Turn 1 (Image Credit: Getty Images/nascar.com)

CREW CHIEF RUDY FUGLE SET AN AGGRESSIVE PIT STRATEGY

Byron’s Crew Chief Rudy Fugle was not the first call his driver to pit road, but his strategy combined with flawless execution by the Hendrick 24 crew made for the race winning strategy. With a strong 3 second lead and 3 laps to go in Stage 1, Fugle brought Byron in for tires and fuel, handing the stage win to Joe Gibbs Racing’s №20 of Christopher Bell. As you will see in our video of that first pit stop below, Fugle’s strategy was matched by both the teams of Ty Gibbs in the No.54 JGR Toyota and Ross Chastain in the Trackhouse Racing No.1 Chevrolet.

Once pit cycles had completed through the Stage break, Byron fought his way back to the front holding a nearly three-second advantage over the field, clearly establishing he had the car to beat.

In the closing laps, Byron’s lead, once over 3 seconds, was starting to close as two Toyotas from Joe Gibbs Racing were closing in. Christopher Bell fought past Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman in the №48, then past his own JGR teammate Ty Gibbs. Even though Byron’s tires were falling off and his lap times starting to lengthen, Bell was closing. But the final 2 laps of the race, the best Bell could do is get to within 4 car lengths in what was ultimately a 0.692-second margin of victory around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile circuit.

The final finishing order: William Byron was the Winner, Bell P2, Gibbs P3, Bowman P4, Reddick P5, Allmendinger P6, Ross Chastain P7, Texas Chris Buescher P8, Kyle Busch P9, and Martin Truex Jr P10.

Our view from COTA Turn 1 “Calamity Corner” as an epic FULL SEND restart battle to begin Stage 2 saw Bell, McDowell, Byron, Gibbs, Reddick, Chastain and Busch go to work (Image Credit: Bob Francis, GFT Digital)
William Byron, driver of the №24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, and crew chief Rudy Fugle celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. (Image Credit: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

For Christopher Bell, winner at Phoenix a few weeks ago, he explained the battle to NASCAR TV:

Christopher Bell does a post-race interview with NASCAR TV (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

“Obviously once I got to him, it was going to be tough to pass him, I just needed a couple mistakes, but William has been really good on the road courses and he was flawless today,” Bell said.

A COTA DOUBLE for HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

On Saturday at COTA, Hendrick Motorsports cup driver Kyle Larson took the opportunity to gain a bit more track time by driving the HMS Xfinity Series entry №17. Larson qualified P1 and was to start on the pole, but the crew discovered a brake issue and the “Unapproved Adjustment” sent Larson to the rear. The race was a master class in road racing as Larson fought his way through the field and prevailed in double overtime to win.

Kyle Larson, driver of the №17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Focused Health 250 at Circuit of The Americas. (Image Credit: Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the №17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Focused Health 250 at Circuit of The Americas. (Image Credit: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

“It feels really special because seems like every time we’ve run the 17 car — any of us four [Hendrick Motorsports Cup Series] drivers — we’re always fast on track and somehow give it away,” Larson said. “Today I was definitely not the fastest, but we were patient. I knew the 21 [Hill] had shoved SVG [van Gisbergen] through [Turn] 1 and if he got to him it could get dicey.”
Larson continued …
“I was just trying to be patient. I was thinking when to make my move and when I saw him shoving him through [turns] 15 and 16, I thought this could get good and thankfully I cleared them off in that corner. Pretty crazy. Just wild there. … Really cool, just awesome to win here at COTA.”

In Victory Lane on Sunday, vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports was all smiles after the Larson-Byron double …

Jeff Gordon, the four-time NASCAR champion, television broadcaster NASCAR Hall of Fame member, and Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, celebrating Sunday in Victory Lane after Byron won the second race of the weekend for HMS (Image Credit: Bob Francis, GFT Digital)

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association