People forget that sometimes sports are supposed to be fun. But nobody needed to remind William Byron of that Monday night. He was all smiles after he scored the victory in the Clyde Hart Memorial 100 for the Super Late Models at New Smyrna Speedway.
Byron, who races full-time for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series, decided to enter just two Super Late Model races at New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, the second of which was Monday night’s event.
After starting fifth, Byron took his time to get to the front of the field. He moved into second four laps past halfway, and finally engaged leader Gabe Sommers with 30 laps to go.
When fourth-place runner Jackson Boone crashed on Lap 71, Byron lined up to the outside of Sommers on the restart leading to the best duel for position the division has seen this week.
Byron got a strong run on the restart, but Sommers refused to relinquish the position. Byron would inch ahead on the exit of the corners, but Sommers drove deep into turn one for four straight laps, making contact with the left-side door of Byron’s No. 24 each time. Finally, Byron was able to clear Sommers with 25 laps remaining.
Sommers didn’t quit, however. He stayed right with Byron and appeared to be faster than him as the final 10 laps wound down. Then the caution came out for a crash by Austin Thom with three laps to go.
Byron once again took the outside, putting Sommers on the inside. Both drivers spun their tires hard on the restart, but Byron was able to clear Sommers off turn two and hold on to take the victory.
How’s that for a start to speedweeks?
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) February 15, 2022
“(Sommers) raced me great,” Byron said in Victory Lane. “I felt like he was a little quicker and doing a better job throughout that middle portion of the race. He gave me a little shot into one, but overall it was really fun.”
Now Byron turns his attention to the big track up the road the rest of the week as Daytona 500 activities kick off Tuesday night, but he said he expects to be back in a Super Late Model at least seven more times in 2022.
Race fans who missed Monday’s Clyde Hart Memorial 100 can watch the feature replay here.