William Byron won at Dayton International Speedway and qualified for NASCAR’s Cup Series postseason — which starts next week at Darlington.
Meanwhile in IndyCar, Josef Newgarden and points leader Scott Dixon posted weekend victories at Gateway in Madison, Ill., with three races left on the schedule.
Byron snaked his way through a smoky crash late Saturday night and narrowly avoided another melee a few laps later.
Those moves got him to victory lane for the first time in his young NASCAR Cup Series career and back in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
They also helped knock out Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time series champion whose final season won’t end with another title.
Winless in 120 races, Johnson made a trip to victory lane to congratulate Byron and the No. 24 team, the one now directed by Johnson’s former and long-time crew chief, Chad Knaus.
“It’s a big win for Chad Knaus and William Byron,” Johnson said. “I really felt like we had a way to transfer, to win, or point our way in and things just got ugly. Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.”
Byron won the race in overtime after two late cautions and locked up one of the three postseason berths available going into the finale. Matt DiBenedetto finished 12th and secured the final spot. Clint Bowyer wrapped up a berth at the end of the opening stage.
“It was too eventful,” said DiBenedetto, whose parents drove down from North Carolina to watch from the stands. “I’m mentally worn out. I’m gonna sleep great tonight, but there was so much going on there at the end.”
Chase Elliott finished second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace.
Newgarden raced to his second IndyCar victory of the season Sunday, holding off rookie Pato O’Ward before a late caution ended the race at World Wide Technology Raceway under the yellow flag.
It’s the second IndyCar race to finish under caution in one week. Takuma Sato won the Indianapolis 500 under yellow last Sunday.
In the second of two weekend races at the short oval outside of St. Louis, it was Sato who brought out the caution with four laps remaining when he hit the wall. The pace car picked up the field with three laps remaining and IndyCar did not have enough time to restart the race.
Dixon won Saturday in the first race of the Gateway doubleheader and has four victories in nine IndyCar races this season. Newgarden and Team Penske have three wins.
Dixon still holds a commanding 96-point lead in the standings with three races remaining on the official schedule. A postponed doubleheader at Mid-Ohio is expected to be rescheduled to early September to give IndyCar five races to close the year.