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EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix: William Byron Dominates COTA


William Byron celebrates in Victory Lane at COTA.
William Byron dominated the day in Austin. (Photo: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas - William Byron's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet dominated the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas to become the first repeat winner of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.


Byron, who started on pole and led a race-high 42 laps, earned his 12th career Cup Series victory in a race where he was the only driver in the field to earn stage points in Stage 1 and Stage 2.


"Oh yeah, it was fun for sure," Byron said. "I wasn’t quite sure what to do with a long front straightaway like this (referring to his burnout post-race), but just super thankful for this team. Rudy (Fugle), all the guys on this race team – it’s pretty amazing what we have been able to do the last couple of years, but we just have to keep working hard and keep it going. Nothing is guaranteed in this sport, and we just have to keep it going.”


Another driver who had a competitive car was Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell, who won Stage 1 and used a different pit strategy to fight through the field for a hard-earned second-place finish.


Bell made up a significant gap to Byron after the No. 20 Toyota came down pit road early on in the Final Stage. However, Bell ended up finishing just under a second (0.692) behind Byron and likely would have caught him if he had another lap.


"Yeah, I mean, obviously once I got to him, it was going to be tough to pass him, but just needed a couple of mistakes," Bell said. "William has been really, really good on the road courses, and he was flawless when it mattered today."


Bell was not the only strong JGR Toyota in the field as Ty Gibbs had yet another incredible performance as he continued to search for his first career Cup Series win. Gibbs finished third for the second time in the last three races while earning his fifth straight top-10 finish.


"We were just a little bit too loose on the right-hand corners," Gibbs said. "I wish we were a little bit tighter, but we did a really great job today. My team did a really great job. All props to them. Thank you to Monster Energy, He Gets Us, Interstate Batteries. It was a good day for us. A good points day."


Results from the 2024 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas are listed below:

2024 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Results.

Other Race Facts

The 2024 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix was the shortest NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of The Americas as the race lasted two hours, 43 minutes and 15 seconds. This was the fourth race at the 3.41-mile road course, which comes after the 2023 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix was the longest road-course race in NASCAR history at three hours, 30 minutes and 32 seconds.


Denny Hamlin, winner of Stage 2, is the only driver in 2024 to lead a lap in all six races to start the season.


William Byron is not just the first repeat winner of 2024, but he was also the first repeat winner of the 2022 and 2023 seasons. According to statistician Trey Ryan, Byron is the first driver to do this in three consecutive seasons since Jeff Gordon did it between 1997 and 1999.


According to Jonathan Fjeld from The Racing Experts, this was just the fourth race in the stage racing era where the only cautions were for stage breaks (2022: Road America, 2019: Sonoma and Las Vegas).


Alex Bowman (fourth), Tyler Reddick (fifth) and Ross Chastain (seventh) are the only three drivers to finish inside the top 10 in all four COTA Cup races.


Chris Buescher's eighth-place finish was his 12th straight top-11 finish on a road/street course in the Cup Series.


Disqualification

Justin Haley was disqualified from the race after failing to meet the minimum post-race weights and he will now finish 39th. Before his disqualification, Haley had achieved Rick Ware Racing's best-ever average running position in a Cup car for two consecutive weeks, according to Trey Ryan. His average running position at Bristol was 14.7 (finished 17th), and his average running position at COTA was 14.2 (finished 17th before disqualification).


GRID Ranking

The 2024 GRID Ranking will be the eighth year of the premier motorsport ranking in the world, and it will be released during the week of April 7.


Before the official ranking releases on the first Sunday of April, drivers in the seven racing series that participate in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) earn GRID Ratings, which help determine their initial seeding when the GRID Ranking releases.


Christopher Bell is at the top of the NASCAR GRID Rating over William Byron after COTA. Byron, who is now second in the GRID Rating after his second win of 2024, earned six wins in 2023 and won the NASCAR Grid Rating last season.


The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule will take place at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, March 31. Coverage of the Toyota Owners 400 will begin on FOX at 7 p.m. ET.


GRID Network

GRID YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@gridranking

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