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NASCAR: William Byron overcomes 31st place start, wins at Homestead

William Byron became the third different NASCAR Cup Series driver to win through three races of the 2021 season with a victory in the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday in Homestead, Fla. File Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
William Byron became the third different NASCAR Cup Series driver to win through three races of the 2021 season with a victory in the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday in Homestead, Fla. File Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI | License Photo

March 1 (UPI) -- William Byron won the third race of NASCAR's Cup Series season in improbable fashion Sunday, as he drove his No. 24 Chevrolet from a 31st-place start to edge the field at the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Byron beat Tyrler Reddick's No. 8 Chevrolet to the finish line by 2.777 seconds to claim the win at the Homestead, Fla., track. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick also finished inside the Top 5.

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"This car was just awesome," Byron told reporters. "It was really a lot of hard work. I think we went to the sim [racing simulator] four or five times this offseason, and it pays off. It's awesome."

"Obviously this was a 400-mile race, and everyone knew that," Reddick told reporters. "I just didn't have a very good last restart. We kind of struggled to get our Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen Chevy going, and I had just a poor restart, and it was the difference, unfortunately.

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"That's all there is to it. Needed to be able to hold on better at the start and just didn't."

Denny Hamlin -- the Cup Series standings leader -- won the pole for the Dixie Vodka 400, but was sent to the back of the field at the start because of an unapproved adjustment to his No. 11 Toyota. He finished 11th, but maintained his lead in the standings.

Byron moved up to No. 13 in the standings.

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Joey Logano led the first 12 laps of the race. Brad Keselowski then took over the lead from laps 13 through 52. Chris Buescher, Byron and Keselowski then exchanged the lead from laps 53 through 78. Buscher led laps 79 through 82 to win the first stage of the race.

Keselowski, Buscher, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace and Truex. were among those who had the lead during stage two. Byron led laps 160 through 201 and won that stage. Larson led laps 202 through 206 and Truex led laps 207 through 209. Byron held the lead for the final 57 laps to claim the victory.

Byron led a race-high total of 102 laps. Buescher led for 57 laps. Keselowski and Truex led for 47 and 37 laps, respectively.

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The Cup Series continues next weekend with the Pennzoil 400 at 3:30 p.m. EST Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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