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LAS VEGAS –William Byron comes out of the gate strong in his first playoff appearance by scoring a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas.

After earning stage points in the first two stages of the race, Byron started the final segment in eighth and moved up to sixth before contact from a competitor caused a left-rear tire rub on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Following the contact, he dropped back to ninth before spinning on Lap 182. He was able to keep the car from taking any extra damage and headed down pit road quickly to remain on the lead lap on the other side of the caution.

“We just had to recover,” Byron said of the incident. “I don’t really know what happened there. I was just running on the wall on the back straightaway and got hit in the left rear. I thought the tire was going to last and hold up. It cleared the fender for a while and it obviously had a cut in it already. That was a big bummer.

We were fortunate that the caution came out when we spun. That was really good for us.”

The sophomore Cup Series driver restarted 17th for the final xx laps. He fell to 22nd before moving in the right direction again, advancing to the top 10 with 60 laps to go.

Green-flag pit stops allowed Byron to lead the race for six circuits before relinquishing the top spot and then regaining his top-10 position.  

With 11 laps to go, he settled into eighth place, picking up one more spot down the stretch to finish the opening race of the playoffs in seventh.

“It was good,” the driver said of his Las Vegas result. “I feel like 1.5-mile tracks, at least for us, have been a little bit of a struggle. So, it’s good to get a top-10 finish, rally, and hopefully have a good run going into Richmond.”

Byron and the No. 24 team will now turn their sights to Richmond Raceway – the sight of the second race in the NASCAR playoffs. The 400-lap race takes place Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET and will broadcast live on NBCSN.