By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

For the last year the country has experienced many changes and surprises. From the closing of restaurants and bars to meetings and appointments that had to be done virally. 

William Byron celebrates after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

William Byron has become the NASCAR Cup Series third surprise this year.  

Bryon joins Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell as unexpected winners. His victory at the Homestead- Miami Speedway landed him in the playoffs early in the racing season. 

“A lot of people obviously made some good decisions on how to get better,” Martin Truex Jr. finished in third. “The rules are the rules and they haven’t changed in a while. The smaller teams get to catch-up.” 

This was something he clearly earned as he led for 117 laps while being in control of the final two stages. He dodged a couple of mishaps during the race and stayed consistent. The win was his second in 111 previous Cup starts. His first came at Daytona last August at Daytona. 

This assures Byron will join McDowell and Bell of automatic spots in the post-season. McDowell had his third consecutive Top 10 finish. 

The early wins already have put a slight pressure on the likes of Alex Bowman Ryan Blaney who were qualifiers last season. 

Byron former crew chief Rudy Fugle was hired by Kendrick Motorsports and paired with Byron. He previously worked for KBM in the truck program. His trucks won 28 races and Byron drove to seven of those wins.   

“That guy has been huge for my career,” said Byron. “He’s the reason I’m here and I’m just glad we could get him.” 

Bubba Wallace finished 22nd-He did lead for a lap during the race and is currently 16th in points with 67th. 

The rest of the top 10 is 4-Kyle Larson (Chevy), 5-Kevin Harvick (FORD), 6-Michael McDowell (Ford),7-Ryan Newman (Ford), 8-Kurt Bush (Chevy), Alex Bowman (Chevy), 10-Kyle Bush (Toyota). 

This WEEK the CUP Series heads to Las Vegas 

ADD RACING: Newcomer Alvin Kamara All-Pro running back of the New Orleans Saints has partnered with JD Motorsports with Gary Keller to sponsor NASCAR Xfinity series Chevrolet #6 car driven by LaMirada native Ryan Vargas. 

Kamara owns a chain of Juice Bars in Louisiana named THE BIG SQUEEZY. They were the Primary sponsor in last weeks Super Start Batteries 188 race at the Daytona International Speedway. 

“I did a bit of research on Ryan as individual and JD Motorsports and was impressed with what I read,” said Kamara in a released statement. “I am excited to play a small role in what they have already have going on.”