William Byron Wins In First-Ever Indy Start

William Byron kisses the famed bricks after taking the checkered flag at Indy.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

With a new competition package that produced a race-record 16 lead changes and the closest NASCAR XFINITY Series finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, William Byron threw more blocks than an NFL fullback in holding off charging Paul Menard to win Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250.

Byron made the decisive pass for the lead on Lap 85, surging past JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler into the top spot. Menard gained two spots, from fourth to second over a six-circuit stretch from Laps 90 to 96 but couldn’t overtake Byron, who blocked each of Menard’s attempts to make a winning pass.

"It’s so cool—this is awesome," said Byron, who was won in his first visit to the vaunted Brickyard. "I’d never been to a Brickyard 400 or an Indy 500, but I watched it as a kid. It takes a lot to win these races, and to win here is so special."

Joey Logano followed Byron past Sadler on Lap 85 and finished third, after losing the second position to Menard on Lap 96.

The leader in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, Byron won for the third time this season. Fighting a vibration he thought might have been the result of a tire issue, he finished .108 seconds ahead of Menard.

"He’s done an awesome job," team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "I’m excited for his future and the rest of the season."

Menard thought he might have been able to get to Byron’s bumper in the closing laps but thought better of trying to move him.

Paul Menard (rear) battles William Byron in the closing laps
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

"He was better than me through Turn 1," Menard said. "I just had to lift too much and play catch-up through Turns 2, 3 and 4 back to the start/finish line. I made a pretty aggressive dive into (Turn) 1 that last lap, just to see if I could get him loose, but he made it stick.

"I maybe could have gotten to his bumper, but that would have definitely killed my momentum, too. All it probably would have done is chase both of us up the hill, and Joey might have won. I didn’t think that was in either of our best interest."

Second in the standings, Byron now trails Sadler, the series leader, by 40 points. A disastrous pit stop cost JRM teammate Justin Allgaier dearly, dropping him to 35th at the finish and 133 points behind Sadler in the standings.

Allgaier pitted from the lead on Lap 57 of 100 and overshot his stall, starting a comedy of errors. The No. 7 crew began working on the car before pushing it back into the pit box. Allgaier took off early, snapping the air hose, which danced around the stall like a snake before coming to rest. The coup de grace was a right front tire that hadn’t been secured.

The tire came off the hub and lodged at an angle inside the wheel well. With his car towed to the garage for repairs, Allgaier lost 13 laps.

That was the comic relief, however, in a race where the new rules package drew overwhelmingly positive reviews.

"Overall, we’re certainly pleased with what we saw on the race track," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "From an eye test, it definitely passed when you look at the metrics, right? Most leaders we’ve had (eight). Most lead changes. Closest finish. Certainly, on the quick recap, some really great metrics.

"But as we said before, there’s a lot for us to digest, go back, talk to the teams, drivers, crew chiefs, see where we’re at and go from there."

RACE RESULTS

Pos. # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status Points Playoff Points
1 9 William Byron Chevy 3 100 26 Running 50 17
2 2 Paul Menard Chevy 15 100 0 Running 0 0
3 22 Joey Logano Ford 12 100 0 Running 0 0
4 1 Elliott Sadler Chevy 1 100 22 Running 45 5
5 00 Cole Custer Ford 6 100 0 Running 39 0
6 16 Ryan Reed Ford 10 100 0 Running 31 5
7 48 Brennan Poole Chevy 17 100 0 Running 45 0
8 21 Daniel Hemric Chevy 13 100 1 Running 37 1
9 33 Brandon Jones Chevy 14 100 0 Running 34 0
10 3 Ty Dillon Chevy 19 100 0 Running 0 0
11 19 Matt Tifft Toyota 7 100 0 Running 27 0
12 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Chevy11 100 44 Running 0 0
13 62 Brendan Gaughan 16 100 0 Running 31 1
14 39 Ryan Sieg Chevy 8 100 0 Running 25 0
15 14 JJ Yeley Toyota 21 100 0 Running 25 0
16 4 Ross Chastain Chevy 23 100 0 Running 26 0
17 11 Blake Koch Chevy 22 100 0 Running 20 1
18 96 Ben Kennedy Chevy 9 100 0 Running 23 0
19 24 Jeb Burton Toyota 25 100 0 Running 18 0
20 28 Dakoda Armstrong Toyota 24 99 0 Running 17 0
21 0 Garrett Smithley Chevy 33 99 1 Running 16 0
22 01 Harrison Rhodes Chevy 29 99 1 Running 15 0
23 20 Erik Jones Toyota 2 99 0 Running 0 0
24 07 Ray Black Jr Chevy 30 99 0 Running 13 0
25 5 Michael Annett Chevy 5 99 0 Running 12 0
26 78 Tommy Joe Martins Chevy 31 99 0 Running 11 0
27 90 Mario Gosselin Chevy 26 99 0 Running 10 0
28 23 Spencer Gallagher Chevy 20 99 0 Running 9 0
29 99 David Starr Chevy 35 99 0 Running 8 0
30 52 Joey Gase Chevy 37 98 0 Running 7 0
31 51 Jeremy Clements Chevy 32 98 0 Running 7 0
32 40 Chad Finchum Dodge 39 98 0 Running 5 0
33 8 BJ McLeod Chevy 34 93 0 Running 4 0
34 74 Mike Harmon Dodge 40 90 0 Transmission 3 0
35 7 Justin Allgaier Chevy 4 86 4 Running 2 7
36 13 Timmy Hill Toyota 36 40 0 Clutch 1 0
37 42 Tyler Reddick Chevy 18 38 0 Accident 5 0
38 15 Reed Sorenson Chevy 27 23 0 Vibration 0 0
39 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevy 38 22 1 Engine 1 0
40 93 Jeff Green Chevy 28 9 0 Vibration 1 0

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