The NASCAR Cup Series drivers returned to racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday in the Dixie Vodka 400. The 1.5-mile track played host to the third race of the 2021 season. The race had all kinds of action and points of interests over the course of 267 laps. Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron would dominate the final stage of the race to score his second career Cup Series win.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | William Byron Wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Dixie Vodka 400 | Stage 1
In actuality, there was a curveball thrown before the Dixie Vodka 400 race even began. The starting lineup was once again set by NASCAR’s starting grid formula. This meant Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano would lead the field to green. That was the case until just before the race when Hamlin was penalized for an unaprroved adjustment. With the #11 car being sent to the back of the NASCAR Cup Series field, teammate Christopher Bell took his spot on the front row.
Logano would ultimately start on the poll and bring the field to green. He didn’t lead long, as Penske teammate Brad Keselowski would pass him for the lead about 10 laps into the race. The race would stay clean until the NASCAR Cup Series competition caution at lap 25. Keselowski would get the lead back and maintain it until about 26 to go in Stage 1. Chris Buescher worked hard to get by the #2 car and into the front. James Davison’s engine expired shortly after to bring out the caution. Keselowski then got back to the point, but Buescher managed to get by once again to win the stage.
Dixie Vodka 400 | Stage 2
Chase Elliott got the lead coming off of pit road between stages and lead the field for the restart. He was not out front for very long before Buescher got the lead back. He stayed there until just before green flag pitstops when Martin Truex Jr. took over the top spot. Truex would extend his lead after the stops had cycled through.
Then Corey LaJoie blew up which caused a one lap shootout for the stage. William Byron passed both Truex and Hamlin to claim the Stage Two victory.
Dixie Vodka 400 | Final Stage
Byron led the NASCAR Cup Series field back to the green for the final stage and quickly got out to a big lead. Back in the pack, Ross Chastain threw a very aggressive block on the inside line that Ryan Blaney really could have sent him on. Ultimately, Blamney wound up making contact with Aric Almirola who tried to shoehorn his car into a pass that just wasn’t there. This caused a caution flag for debris.
Kyle Larson got the lead off of pit road, but Truex had the better jump on the restart and overtook him. Not long after, Byron got the lead back and once again extended it out to several seconds. Running right tight to the outside wall, Tyler Reddick made a huge run late. He came from as far as 13 seconds back with 30 laps to go to within three seconds of Byron with two to go. In the end, it was too little, too late. William Byron extended the list of surprise winners to start the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season by taking the checkered flag in the Dixie Vodka 400.
Final Dixie Vodka 400 Thoughts
The race was great and highly entertaining from start to finish. You could really tell that the NASCAR Cup Series drivers were giving it all they had. Of course, the rough tire-eating surface of Homestead-Miami Speedway also ensured that they had their hands full with driving the cars. Tires definitely came into play, and that is what both the drivers and fans wanted. We will see if this trend continues next week in Las Vegas.