William Byron won the first stage of Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — William Byron proved the prowess of NASCAR’s high-downforce, high-drag package during the opening stage of Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, tracking down Kyle Busch and drafting past him to secure his second NASCAR XFINITY Series stage win of the year.

Byron used a slingshot pass at the entrance to Turn 3 to move past Busch for the lead, pacing the final eight laps and beating Busch to the line by .113 of a second.

“I knew we had a good race car yesterday and we’ve had speed all weekend, so that’s really good to see,” Byron said. “I’m proud of everyone at JRM and at the Hendrick engine shop. Hopefully we can keep it up there … we have four tires; hopefully we can knife our way through and get back up to the lead.”

The only slowdown during the opening stage was a NASCAR-mandated competition caution at lap 15.

Polesitter Elliott Sadler led the first 16 circuits of the 30-lap segment as Busch methodically clawed his way from 11th to second. While Busch won the race off pit road, Daniel Hemric, who had made an early pit stop, stayed out to lead the field back to green for a lap 21 restart.

However, Hemric stumbled coming into the restart box, allowing Busch to assume command with Byron in hot pursuit. From there, Byron’s stage-winning move was the only other change up front before the green-checkered flag waved.

Busch crossed the line second ahead of the Fords of Joey Logano and Cole Custer, as well as the Chevrolet of Brennan Poole.

Ty Dillon, Tyler Reddick, Paul Menard, Elliott Sadler and Matt Tifft completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.

Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman, 24, is the founder and managing editor of 77 Sports Media and a major contributing writer for SPEED SPORT Magazine. He is studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. and also serves as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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