Byron Counts To Three
William Byron celebrates after winning Sunday's Finish Line 150 at virtual Dover Int'l Speedway. (Justin Melillo photo)

Byron Counts To Three In Dover eNASCAR Run

DOVER, Del. – William Byron took his third win in the last four eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series races on Sunday afternoon with a late pass of rival Timmy Hill at the virtual Dover Int’l Speedway.

A multi-car crash on the fronstretch with 15 laps left, sparked by contact between John Hunter Nemechek and Denny Hamlin, drew all the leaders to pit road and led to split strategy that ultimately decided the outcome of the Finish Line 150.

Hill, along with Garrett Smithley, Landon Cassill and Ross Chastain, took just two fresh tires on the final round of stops, while Byron led a long list of frontrunners that took four tires for the sprint to the finish.

When the green flag waved to resume competition, it was clear four tires was the key to victory.

Byron sprinted from fifth to second in the blink of an eye, then ran down and dogged Hill for a lap and a half before making what turned out to be the race-winning move.

The Charlotte, N.C., native powered his virtual No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet to the inside of Hill’s No. 66 Toyota entering turn three on lap 144 of 150, then raced off into the distance over the final seven laps.

Byron admitted afterward that he knew his fresh tires would be the right call as long as he wasn’t held up on the final restart.

William Byron (24) darts to the inside during the final restart Sunday at virtual Dover Int’l Speedway. (Justin Melillo photo)

“That was fun. I knew we had to go on that restart,” explained Byron. “We had four tires, and unfortunately I knew that the strategy was going to have us (mired) back in the pack on that restart. It was just all about getting clear (to second), and then once I got to Timmy I knew we had better stuff and I just had to work him over for a couple of laps there.

“I’ve enjoyed this iRacing series that we’ve had going, but I’m definitely ready to get back into my normal car, as well,” he added. “This has taught me a lot in the last few weeks, though, and it has been fun.”

Christopher Bell dispatched Hill for second with five to go, but couldn’t run down Byron for a shot at the win and settled for second, three tenths of a second adrift. Hill hung on for a third-place finish.

“I wish I could have had some time (to get away), where some of the guys that took two tires with me could have held up William, but once he put that move down and the others slid up the track and wrecked, I knew he’d probably run me down,” Hill noted. “I knew as soon as he got clear of those guys that I was a sitting duck. It was fun, though. We had a really, really, really good car.

“Just came up short again.”

Erik Jones and Michael McDowell completed the top five, followed by Homestead winner and Sunday’s fast qualifier Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Talladega winner Alex Bowman, Smithley and Aric Almirola.

Chastain, who started from the pole after the top 10 qualifying times were inverted, ended up 17th.

In total, nine caution flags slowed the pace for 40 laps, while seven drivers exchanged the lead 12 times, including four times between Byron and Hill over the final two-thirds of the event.

Announced during Sunday’s NASCAR on FOX broadcast, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series will conclude on May 9 at 3 p.m. from the virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway.

The historic venue, which last hosted NASCAR competition in real life in 1996, was cleaned up by a group led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and able to be scanned for iRacing late last year.

North Wilkesboro is expected to be released to the public on iRacing this summer.

The results:

1. 24-William Byron [8], 2. 95-Christopher Bell [11], 3. 66-Timmy Hill [7], 4. 20-Erik Jones [31], 5. 34-Michael McDowell [20], 6. 11-Denny Hamlin [10], 7. 12-Ryan Blaney [32], 8. 88-Alex Bowman [35], 9. 51-Garrett Smithley [2], 10. 10-Aric Almirola [27], 11. 15-Brennan Poole [28], 12. 41-Cole Custer [36], 13. 19-Bobby Labonte [14], 14. 22-Joey Logano [15], 15. 18-Kyle Busch [22], 16. 1-Kurt Busch [30], 17. 6-Ross Chastain [1], 18. 4-Kevin Harvick [18], 19. 52-JJ Yeley [26], 20. 32-Corey LaJoie [5], 21. 89-Landon Cassill [6], 22. 49-Chad Finchum [17], 23. 3-Austin Dillon [16], 24. 53-Joey Gase [24], 25. 31-Tyler Reddick [34], 26. 8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [4], 27. 38-John Hunter Nemechek [9], 28. 48-Jimmie Johnson [19], 29. 37-Ryan Preece [33], 30. 96-Daniel Suarez [12], 31. 78-Regan Smith [29], 32. 13-Ty Dillon [25], 33. 2-Brad Keselowski [13], 34. 77-Parker Kligerman [3], 35. 17-Chris Buescher [23], 36. 21-Matt DiBenedetto [21].

Lead Changes: 12 among seven different drivers

Lap Leaders: Ross Chastain 1-3, Parker Kligerman 4-14, Denny Hamlin 15-23, William Byron 24-42, Garrett Smithley 43-45, William Byron 46-52, Garrett Smithley 53-60, Alex Bowman 61-65, William Byron 66-73, Timmy Hill 74-99, William Byron 100-137, Timmy Hill 138-143, William Byron 144-150.

Laps Led: William Byron 79, Timmy Hill 32, Parker Kligerman 11, Garrett Smithley 11, Denny Hamlin 9, Alex Bowman 5, Ross Chastain 3.

Caution Flags: Nine for 40 laps

Time of Race: One hour, 31 minutes, 58.731 seconds

Average Speed: 97.849 mph

Margin of Victory: .300 seconds

Busch Pole Award: 11-Denny Hamlin, 22.044 seconds (163.310 mph)

Fastest Lap: 24-William Byron, 22.300 seconds (161.435 mph, lap 142)

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