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NASCAR explains timing of race-ending caution in Daytona 500

NASCAR has clarified when the final caution that ended Monday night's rain-delayed Daytona 500 was displayed, after claims that Alex Bowman was ahead of eventual winner William Byron.

Hendrick Motorsport driver Byron made a timely charge to the front of the field following the final round of green flag pit stops.

After a massive late wreck, Byron bolted to the lead on a restart with four of the 200 laps remaining. Approaching the white flag to signal one lap remaining, Byron moved to block the oncoming charge of Ross Chastain's Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet, who then clipped the Penske Ford of Austin Cindric.

That triggered another multi-car wreck and as Cindric's car slid back up the track, NASCAR made the decision to throw the caution. Per NASCAR rules, a caution flag on the final lap means the field is frozen and the race is over.

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Bowman, who had pushed Chastain into contention, continued his momentum to pull alongside his team-mate Byron as the caution flag few.

After much speculation, NASCAR posted the following explanation on social media:

 

Added Mike Forde, the Managing Director of Racing Communications: "NASCAR uses all available resources at the end.

"Here is the aerial photo at the time of caution. You can also see the #2 car [Cindric] coming back up the racetrack. That's why the yellow was called.

"[We] had hoped it would have stayed down on the apron like the #1 [Chastain] did and end under green."

Bowman never questioned NASCAR's decision and was "proud" of Byron, saying: "They deserved it there at the end. They did all the right things, and I feel like we did too there at the end.

"Had to go up and block the top lane and that just killed the middle for a bit. We got the middle back rolling and then they all started crashing."

Gordon hails 'superstar' Byron

Jeff Gordon knows a thing or two about being a superstar in the NASCAR Cup Series and sees another quickly blazing a path in the #24 Chevrolet he made famous.

Gordon, who won four Cup titles and 93 races with Hendrick Motorsports, is now vice chairman of the organisation and was already impressed with Byron's development aboard the #24 car.

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

But he believes Byron’s victory has only cemented his status as an elite driver in the series.

“It’s so cool what this is going to do for this team, for all of our partners and William Byron,” Gordon said. “He was already a superstar. He just went to another level of being a superstar.

“I wasn’t driving the car, but I feel like I was making every lap with him out there. It’s just crazy to watch these guys do what they do and do it so well, and to watch them from this side of it, it makes me so happy, so proud.

“We’re going to celebrate. This is an amazing win, huge win.”

Not only was it Byron’s first 500 win but it also came on the day of Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary of its first Cup series race, which came in the 1984 500 with Geoffrey Bodine.

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