William Byron wasn’t sure what he could have done differently to avoid being sent to the garage early in the Daytona 500 by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
On lap 60, Byron went for a wild ride through the backstretch grass and slammed nose-first into the inside wall. Stenhouse, the pole-sitter, had turned the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet going down the backstretch during what he said was an attempt to move left to block the oncoming run of Aric Almirola.
“My fault there,” said Stenhouse over his JTG Daugherty Racing team radio.
Byron was running fourth behind teammates Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman when the accident occurred. Stenhouse was the fifth Chevrolet in line, followed by Ty Dillon, and Almirola had jumped to the bottom lane from sixth.
“He’d given me a couple of bumps before that, and the car handled it fine,” said Byron. “I think the fact that he was pushing me and sliding left across the bumper is really what got me slightly left; and then he moved to go out of line, and he misjudged, it seemed like, that move.
“Ultimately, he hit me in the left rear quarter-panel and turned me straight into the inside wall.
“I understand making moves and stuff. I think we were kind of all in line to that point and … it wasn’t like I was trying to block him or anything. I don’t really know where that came from.”
Understanding the ups and downs of racing, Byron will score one point for finishing last in the Daytona 500. He also has 10 points carrying over from the Duel win.
“But this definitely sucks,” said Byron.
Before the accident, Byron felt there had been good organizational effort between himself and his teammates to stay together. Running single file, the group had moved from using the top of the racetrack to running the bottom, and everything was going well, according to Byron, as they were “just kind of riding around and waiting to try to get to the end of this race.
“But it didn’t happen.”