Lugano hit Byron from behind on the next lap to win the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday. Byron hit the wall in turn three and Lugano went to his first win of the season and his first at the “Too Tough To Tame” circuit.
“There is something to be said for an angry race car driver,” said Lugano, who smashed a 40-race driest with no win.
Lugano, who started from pole position, had one of the strongest cars of the day and was in front getting out of the pits before restarting 25 laps ago. But Byron, starting low, forced Lugano into the wall and out of the lead.
“If someone was willing to do that to you, the gloves would have been taken off,” Lugano said.
Byron wasn’t happy with the maneuver, calling Lugano an “idiot” and “fools” who’d raced others questionably throughout his career.
Fans in Darlington let Team Penske’s driver know what they were thinking, as they booed the 2018 NASCAR champ as he got out of his car.
“I have been called out for many things, much worse than a moron,” Lugano said.
Byron, who has signed a contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports, looked as if he would continue his team’s dominant season through the closing laps. Instead, Lugano broke 40 dry races.
Byron dropped to thirteenth. He said the restart was just a tight race and that Byron didn’t deserve a big hit on the rear fender near the finish.
“He slapped me so hard, he hit me on the right side of the car and sent me into the corner,” Byron said. “He’s just a moron. He can’t win a race, so he does it that way.”
Lugano led 108 of the 293 laps and reached Victory Lane for the first time since his ground win at Bristol in 2021.
This was the first time a new, next-generation car had been taken on NASCAR’s oldest superfast, and the results were mixed. The race was strong, although many of the top competitors didn’t make it to the finish.
Odds on favourite?: Larson was the bettor of choice to win his first in Darlington. But the Defending Cup Series champion continued his hard luck at NASCAR’s oldest ultra-fast paces. Larson, who started in second, drove 30 of the first 32 laps before rolling on lap 54 and relegating to 29th.
Larson had worked his way into the top ten early in the second stage before returning to the pits as his crew put the bonnet on. They couldn’t get the car back on—Larson told them “I don’t have electricity”—and pushed him into the garage.
It was kind of a stretch for Larson, who has finished second in his past three races in Darlington. In a tire test here last month, Larson hit the wall twice early.
It’s the fourth time in 12 races this season that Larson has gone out before the finish.
“The problem,” Larson said. “But the positive thing is that we were really fast.”
Parking place: Kyle Busch’s day ended after he couldn’t avoid running into Brad Keselowski after rider Roush Fenway put a sign on the wall right in front of Busch. A frustrated Bush got into his #18 to dig the road and left it there, and drove to his trailer.
A tow truck had to deliver the Joe Gibbs Racing machine and take it to the garage. Bosch had led 19 laps early in the race.
Last year, Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR when he drove his damaged car into the garage at the South 500 here, causing several cones to scatter and causing people to quickly disperse on the track.
Bush was asked why he stopped where he stopped. He replied “just can’t make a corner”.
next one: The series moves to Kansas Speedway, with Kyle Busch being the main advocate for the event. Kyle Larson won the October Race in Kansas.
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