MARTINSVILLE, Va. — William Byron knew he was in for a big challenge with a two-lap overtime sprint about to start at Martinsville Speedway and the very aggressive Joey Logano right behind him.
Byron also felt like he had a pretty remarkable copilot in his corner for Saturday night's NASCAR Cup Series race.
"This one is for my mom," he said. "This same weekend last year she had kind of a mini stroke and was diagnosed with brain cancer. It means a lot to have her here, and it's been a crazy year. But she's doing great. I kind of felt like she was riding in there with me."
Byron took the lead on pit road after stops during the second stage and held it pretty much the rest of the way — he led 212 laps — to become the first driver with more than one win this season.
The 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver needed to hold off a challenge — and a nudge — from Team Penske's Logano during overtime to finish it, but he won for the fourth time in his career and gave team owner Rick Hendrick four victories in eight races this season.
When the final caution, and only the second for an on-track issue of the night, came with five laps to go, Byron and the seven drivers behind him opted to stay out for the final dash.
"I thought everyone behind us would pit, and luckily we stayed out," he said. "We were aggressive; we felt like we could refire on the tires and be OK, and you've got one of the most aggressive guys behind you in Logano."
Byron had both a fast car that allowed him to pull away on restarts and a strong one on long runs, critical because there wasn't a caution for anything but the end of a stage until the 311th of 400 laps on the 0.526-mile oval.
That changed when Todd Gilliland had a flat tire and hit the wall with five laps to go. Byron and the top eight cars on the track opted not to pit, with Byron picking the inside lane for his No. 24 Chevrolet with Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon, running second, on the outside.
That gave Logano a prime opportunity to bump the leader out of the way, especially when Dillon spun his tires on the restart. Logano's Ford bumped Byron in the second turn on the last lap, but Byron held on for his second win of the weekend. He won in the third-tier Truck Series on Thursday night, earning him a pair of the raceway's unique grandfather clock trophies during NASCAR's three-day stop at Martinsville.
"Willy kind of messed up off of (turn four) and let me get to him, and he did a really good job of brake checking into third, right, which is a good job," Logano said. "He did what he was supposed to do, and kind of got me all stuffed up behind him, and I couldn't accelerate off the corner and be as close as I needed to be."
Logano was second, followed by Dillon in a Chevy, Team Penske's Ryan Blaney and Trackhouse Racing's Ross Chastain in another Chevy. Kurt Busch of 23XI Racing, in sixth, had the highest finish by a Toyota driver.
Dillon appeared to have a car likely to challenge on a long green flag run, and he beat Logano for second on a restart with 80 laps to go, but after Byron pulled away, lapped traffic and consistency helped him build a nearly three-second lead.
The start of the race was delayed by more than an hour when rain and sleet fell on an already frigid night. It got underway with radar suggesting more precipitation was coming, perhaps even some snow, but none materialized. It all conspired to provide a clean track and a virtual single-file parade.
Hendrick's Chase Elliott led the first 185 laps after starting in pole position, winning the first and second stages for the fifth time in his career, but he lost the lead in the caution stops that followed the second stage and had trouble as the night went on. He finished 10th.
Denny Hamlin was coming off a slump-busting victory at Richmond Raceway as he visited another short track — and one where he leads all active drivers with five Cup Series wins — but any hope he brought to Martinsville was taken away bit by bit. He qualified 25th on Friday, was lapped by Elliott at the end of the first stage Saturday, made laps in the back of the field and finished 28th.
The rest of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable didn't fare much better, though Kyle Busch rallied for seventh, one spot behind older brother Kurt. JGR's Martin Truex Jr., who'd won three of the last five races here, finished 22nd, and teammate Christopher Bell was 20th.
JGR did win Friday night's second-tier Xfinity Series race with Brandon Jones getting his first victory since 2020.
Next on the Cup Series schedule is a third straight short track, this time on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway for a night race on Easter Sunday, April 17.