William Byron, Jimmie Johnson continue strong showings


It’s not a coincidence that fellow NASCAR Cup drivers have been seeing a lot more of William Byron and Jimmie Johnson in their rearview mirrors of late.

And if things continue the way they have in the last couple of races, it’s only a matter of time before those same drivers soon will see Byron and Johnson in front of them a lot more often.

With Justin Haley awarded the win in Sunday’s rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, it was Byron and Johnson who finished second and third, respectively.

For Byron, it was oh-so-close to what would have been his first career Cup victory.

William  Byron finished runner-up Sunday at Daytona. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s kind of an unsettling feeling that close to the win,” Byron said. “If a few things went our way after that last caution, we might have won.”

But Byron tempered that by adding, “You don’t want to win that way as your first win, I guess. Obviously, a win is a win. I would take it that way. It’s maybe not the prettiest way to do it, but I’ll take it.

But I guess now that I finished second, I’d rather have it another way. It would have been great, but unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards for us. Still, to finish second with a backup car and start from the back, 40th, was really good. I’m happy with that. We can put the Daytona drama now behind us.”

Byron finished eighth at Chicagoland Speedway and second at Daytona. In his last eight races, he has five top-10 showings, including Sunday’s runner-up finish. He’s champing at the bit to get that elusive first Cup win.

It would be really cool, so hopefully we can do that soon, hopefully next weekend for sure,” he said. “We’ve been close.”

Johnson, who remains winless in his last 77 Cup races (dating June 2017 at Dover), also has been improving slowly but steadily.

He has two top-five finishes in his last two races: fourth at Chicago and third at Daytona. Extrapolate that even further and Johnson has four top-10 finishes overall in his last seven starts.

The last month, we’ve definitely been heading in the right direction, and I think we’re hitting our stride as a group right now,” Johnson said.

While Johnson lamented the fact that NASCAR may have gotten the full race in if it had started at 10 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. ET, he still was happy with the outcome in what is usually a wild-card race.

Luckily, it’s over, it was just going to keep raining,” Johnson said. Third-place points are pretty strong, so not a tremendous disappointment. With 33 laps to go (if the weather had cleared and the race would have restarted), there’s no telling how it would shake out.

There could have been a wreck on the restart, and we could have finished in the 20s. We’ll take it, it is what it is, and move on.

If it did go back to green, I think there’s only a handful of cars that were still in good shape. Certainly, William and I were going to do everything we could to get a Hendrick car to victory lane. But it is what is its, the race has been called, and we’ll take the third-place points and go home.”

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NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall. Elliott’s car then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.