The first night race of the season for the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway was a cakewalk for Hendrick Motorsports—until a late caution sent the race to overtime, that is.
But William Byron survived a final restart and a mistake on the white-flag lap to win Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at the .526-mile short track.
Byron led 212 of the 403 laps. Teammate and pole winner Chase Elliott led the first 185 circuits, as Hendrick Motorsports surpassed 10,000 laps led at Martinsville, becoming the first Cup organization to hit that prodigious number at a single track.
To download images from William Byron’s victory in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400, click here.
At the end of the two-lap overtime, Byron crossed the finish line .303 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Logano, who couldn’t get close enough to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet in the final corner to make a move for the win.
Byron, who also won Thursday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, is the first driver to win two events this season. Saturday night’s Cup victory was his first at Martinsville and the fourth of his career.
With his parents on his pit box for the entire race, Byron dedicated the win to his mother.
“When that last caution came out (for Todd Gilliland’s brush with the Turn 4 wall on Lap 393), I thought everyone behind us would pit,” Byron said. “Luckily, we stayed out—we were aggressive. We felt like we could refire on the tires and be OK.
“You’ve got one of the most aggressive guys behind you with Logano. I chattered the tires in (Turns) 3 and 4 (on the white-flag lap) and left the bottom open, but I was able to kind of block my exit to get a good drive off (the corner).
“This one’s for my mom. This same weekend last year, she had kind of a mini-stroke and was diagnosed with brain cancer. It means a lot to have her here, and it’s been a crazy year, but she’s doing great, and thanks, everybody, for the support. I kind of felt like she was riding in there with me. It’s cool to have her here, and I’m definitely going to enjoy this one.”
Logano had mixed emotions after the race. The strong second-place run was gratifying, but it was second place, not first, and it extended his winless streak to 37 races.
“That final restart there, had a front row,” Logano said. “That’s what you can ask for. Got cleared to second, and Willy kind of messed up off of (Turn) 4 and let me get to him, and he did a really good job of brake-checking… He did what he was supposed to do, and kind of got me all stuffed up behind him, and I couldn’t accelerate off the corner and be as close as I needed to be down into 3 to execute the ol’ bump-and-run.
“Couldn’t get quite to him, but his corner entry was really strong, too, which I think allowed him to get in there pretty strong. Overall, the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang had a solid run. Just hate being that close to winning and not making it happen. But big points today, and it just stings. Second just sucks sometimes, that’s all.”
Austin Dillon ran a strong third behind Logano, with Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain claiming the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Elliott completed the top 10. Elliott leads the series standings by three points over second-place Blaney. Byron is third, 12 points back.
Leading the first 185 laps, Elliott won the first two stages in the process. But Byron won the race off pit road under caution at the second stage break and remained out front for 118 laps until he came to pit road during a cycle of green-flag stops midway through the final stage.
Blaney held the top spot for five laps before making his final stop, and Byron regained the lead when Blaney came to pit road on Lap 308.
After completion of the green-flag cycle, NASCAR called the third caution of the race when Denny Hamlin’s ill-handling car stopped on pit road. Byron retained control of the race after the subsequent Lap 325 restart, with Austin Dillon moving past Joey Logano into the second position.
That was the last yellow flag until the final caution on Lap 393. The four cautions total—with two for stage breaks—were the fewest in a Cup race at Martinsville since 1997. Then again, Saturday night’s race was shortened from 500 to 400 laps.
–NASCAR Wire Service
2022 NASCAR Season
As part of its 75th Anniversary season, Martinsville will host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season finale on Thursday, Oct. 27 and penultimate races of the Xfinity Series Playoffs in the Dead On Tools 250 on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3:00 p.m. and the Cup Series Playoffs in the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. In short track battles that can only happen at Martinsville, the fall races will crown the Whelen Modified Tour champion and set the field for the Xfinity and Cup Series championships the following week at Phoenix Raceway.
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race, will return for an evening of intense competition on Saturday, Sept. 24.
NASCAR tickets are available for purchase today via phone at 877-RACE-TIX or online at martinsvillespeedway.com.
About Martinsville Speedway
Founded by H. Clay Earles in 1947, Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949. At .526 miles in length, the track annually hosts two NASCAR race weekends featuring the NASCAR Cup Series, along with NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in the fall. Martinsville Speedway also annually hosts the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race. For more information about Martinsville Speedway, visit martinsvillespeedway.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About NFI Consumer Products, Blue-Emu®
Nutrition & Fitness, Inc. (NFI Consumer Products) is an innovative consumer products company that manufactures, markets, and distributes the Blue-Emu® line of products for muscle, joint and skin conditions. Blue-Emu® products are made with real emu oil. In January of 2014, Gregory Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc. purchased NFI Consumer Products and quickly capitalized on the Blue-Emu® following amongst consumers and expanded their advertising efforts to further accelerate the growth of the Blue-Emu® product line. In June 2014, Original Blue-Emu® Super Strength cream was recognized as the #1 selling over-the-counter muscle and joint cream in the United States. Under the leadership of CEO, Susan Gregory and guidance from EVP of Marketing, Benjamin Blessing, NFI has expanded the Blue-Emu® product line to include Blue-Emu® Continuous Pain Relief Spray, Blue-Emu® Maximum Arthritis Pain Relief Cream, and Lidocare and Blue-Emu® Pain Relief Patches. Today, NFI Consumer Products distributes the emu oil-based Blue-Emu® products throughout the United States, primarily through mass merchandisers, supermarkets and drug stores. The company currently distributes the Blue-Emu® product line through various retailers representing over 50,000 retail outlets. For more about Blue-Emu® by NFI, please visit www.blue-emu.com.