CONCORD, N.C. – Weather may have delayed last weekend’s race at Daytona International Speedway, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of William Byron and Jimmie Johnson, who came home with top-three finishes in the rain-shortened event.
“You’re up-and-down a lot here,” Byron said after earning his NASCAR Cup Series career-best finish of second. “It would have been cool to win, for sure. But, it would have been a really weird way to win. So, I’m glad that we got the day out of it that we did.”
Weather was on the horizon during the opening laps of the final segment, and lightning strikes brought out a red flag. As cars were brought back to pit road, Byron anxiously waited in the runner-up spot in hopes the weather would dissipate and return to the track.
Ultimately, the storm ended the race after 127 of the scheduled 160 laps.
“I would have liked to go back racing and win it the way I wanted to,” Byron said. “But our team did a great job this week managing all the chaos and finishing second with a backup car is pretty good. Overall, it was a good race for us.”
His teammate Jimmie Johnson ran inside the top 10 for most of the day and earned extra points in both of the opening stages before finishing the race in third.
“These Ally crew members on this No. 48 Ally team have been working really hard,” Johnson said. “I think we’re really starting to hit our stride as a group now.”
Key in the top-three finishes for Johnson and Byron was their avoidance of a multiple-car incident that began at the front of the field on Lap 118.
“William did a nice job of moving to the top in front of me,” Johnson recalled. “A couple of cars disappeared in front of me. And the spinning cars on the outside took out the No. 88 (Alex Bowman) behind me. I was just in a very fortunate position on track and drove through and out without a scratch."
The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was equally hopeful that cars would return to the track and take the green flag for the remaining 33 laps.
“If it did go back to green, I think there was only a handful of cars that were still in good shape,” he said. “We were certainly willing to do everything we could to get a Hendrick Motorsports car to Victory Lane, but it is what it is. The race has been called and we’ll take the third-place points and head home.”
Strategy paid off Sunday as Chevrolets from different teams worked together throughout the race to gain position, ultimately finishing the event with Camaro ZL1s as each of the top four finishers. Five Chevrolets finished in the top 10.
“It was really successful,” Byron said of the strategy. “All of us worked really well together and I feel like that’s what got us to a second-place position. It was great.”