William Byron wins record-breaking Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500


Annika Pepper

William Byron celebrates with his pit crew in Victory Lane. This is Byron’s third victory in 149 Cup Series starts. “Daytona and Talladega, when you get single file you can relax, today you were constantly working to stay single file,” Byron said. “…[P]retty crazy race but great to come out on top.”

After a record 11 cautions and 46 lead changes among 20 drivers, William Byron, driving the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, captured the checkered flag in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

“I just had a good feeling coming into this race that we could do something good,” Byron said. “Really great to be able to pull it off.”

Ross Chastain, driver of the No. 1 Chevy, races for the lead with Kyle Busch in the No. 18 M&M Toyota. Chastain would finish in second place, while Busch was unable to finish the race due to the damage to his car. This is Chastain’s third top-ten finish for 2022. (Craig Bardo)

Ross Chastain, driving the No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet, finished second, followed by Kurt Busch. driving the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota. Daniel Suarez finished fourth, driving the No. 99 CommScope Chevrolet, as Corey LaJoie rounded out the top five in the No. 7 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet. This was LaJoie’s first top-five finish in his Cup career. 

“It was pretty wild out there,” Busch said. “Playing defense and putting patchwork on a car isn’t ideal.”

With the increase from 24 degrees to 28 degrees of banking and reduced horsepower, drivers could feel the difference of the new Atlanta Motor Speedway. Similar to Talladega and Daytona, it created an action-packed race for the drivers and non-stop action for the fans.   

“I was always trying to guard against getting too far out front,” Byron said. “Single-file was my most vulnerable place to be.”

The start of the first stage was steady going until the first caution was thrown when Noah Gragson spun coming out of turn two. The second caution flag flew when leading driver Chastain ran off into the wall due to a cut tire. 

Stage one ended under caution after a big wreck involving Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon who collected with them Chase Briscoe and Ty Dillon. Byron won the first stage after 17 lead changes. 

In stage two cars were able to make runs from the back and move up through the field. The track saw some three- to four-wide racing. Tyler Reddick was the second Chevy of the day to blow a right rear, triggering an accident that involved 13 cars. 

Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin wrecked to end stage two with Blaney in the lead.

Harrison Burton, driving No. 21 DEX Imaging Chevrolet for team Wood Brothers Racing, finished 25th. He was the highest finishing rookie in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. (Craig Bardo)

“The 8 car spun in front of the entire field and then I see him still racing,” Busch said. “I’m like, ‘How is that possible?’”

Heading into the stage three tire problems continued for Chevy vehicles. With 25 laps to go the tenth caution of the day was thrown, marking the most cautions Atlanta had seen in 60 years. After worrying about if gas was going to be an issue another caution was thrown when Aric Almirola spun out, causing a late race result but leading a dash to the checkered flag. 

On the last lap right another accident happened as Chris Buescher, Justin Haley, and Bubba Wallace collided near the start-finish line. Byron captured the win.

Christopher Bell crossed the finish line in second but dropped to 23rd officially after NASCAR penalized him for passing below double line on the final lap of the race.

“I’m living my dream. I can’t imagine it getting any better,” Chastain said. “Seeing the checkered flag right there and racing William for the win…I had quite a bit of fun.” 

Heading into next week Chase Elliot leads the point standings seven points ahead of Joey Logano.

The Cup Series heads to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.