William Byron scored his first career Cup win when he needed it most, securing a spot in the 16-driver playoff field Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s awesome man,” Byron said on his radio. “Racing for a championship.”

Matt DiBenedetto finished 12th and secured the final playoff spot.

“We made it,” DiBenedetto told NBC Sports. “I don’t care how we did it.”

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was collected in a late wreck and finished 17th, missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year. DiBenedetto beat Johnson for the final playoff spot by six points.

“Things just got ugly down in Turn 1,” Johnson. “That’s plate racing.”

Chase Elliott finished second and was followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace.

Byron is only the second driver to ever win a Cup race with the No. 24, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon.

The race changed dramatically two laps from the scheduled distance. Joey Logano was in the middle lane when he had contact with Denny Hamlin and bounced off Bubba Wallace on the outside lane as they raced for the lead. Byron went between them, as the leaders went four-wide in Turn 1 with Hamlin on the bottom.

Byron made contact with Logano, who slowed and was hit from behind by DiBenedetto. That contact turned Logano into Matt Kenseth in the bottom lane. That hit and then contact from behind by Christopher Bell sent Kenseth up the track and into Johnson, slamming Johnson’s car into the wall. Johnson’s car suffered significant damage.


The race was stopped eight laps from the scheduled finish after a multi-car crash triggered when Tyler Reddick moved up in front of Kyle Busch for the lead.

Reddick said on his radio of triggering the wreck: “That was just stupid.”

About 10 cars were collected. That included Busch, who remains winless this season.

“Slide job gone bad,” Busch told NBC Sports about Reddick’s move.

Said Ryan Newman, who was in the crash, about Reddick: “The 8 car obviously just ran out of talent. It seems like you can win a couple of Xfinity championships and still stick your head where the sun don’t shine when the time comes right.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Joey Logano

STAGE 2 WINNER: Joey Logano

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: William Byron scored his first career Cup win in his 98th career start. … Daytona 500 champ Denny Hamlin placed third for his seventh top-five finish in the last eight races. Bubba Wallace’s fifth-place finish marks his third career top-five finish, his second at Daytona. His other top five came at Indy last year.

NOTABLE: Cole Custer clinched the Rookie of the Year honors by being the only rookie to make the playoffs.

NEXT: The Cup playoffs begin with the Southern 500 at 6 p.m. ET Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway on NBCSN.


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