GAME TIME: The second race in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs took place at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend. Following a 12th-place finish, William Byron is ranked 10th, 11 points below the cutoff line. However, an appeal is set to be heard this week regarding the 25-point penalty assessed to Byron last Tuesday following the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
PLAYOFF POWER: In the first five races of the Cup Series playoffs, Byron has an average finish of 7.2 – second-best to Denny Hamlin (5.6). He has finished eighth at Darlington Raceway, sixth at Kansas Speedway, third at Bristol Motor Speedway, seventh at Texas and 12th at Talladega.
UP FRONT: Byron continues to hold the statistic of leading the second-most laps so far this season with 714 – behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who has led 773. Those 714 laps led by Byron are his most in a single Cup Series season. In fact, in the playoffs alone so far, the 24-year-old driver has led 102 laps – seventh-most in the Cup Series field in that time span.
ROAD RINGER?: With four previous starts at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, Byron is prepared for his fifth start at the 17-turn course. His strong runs there include the pole position in 2019 and two sixth-place finishes in 2019 and 2020. In fact, Byron has led a total of 80 laps at his hometown road course – the most among the Cup Series field. He also has collected 116 points in his starts at the Charlotte ROVAL – tied for seventh-most among all drivers.
FUGLE FILES: This Sunday’s race will mark crew chief Rudy Fugle’s second start on this layout. In his first showing at the venue, Fugle and the No. 24 team qualified 11th and led 30 laps before an untimely caution late in the race shuffled the running order, leaving them with an 11th-place finish. As a crew chief on road courses, Fugle has 12 Cup Series starts, three starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and seven in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven Truck Series starts, the Livonia, New York, native has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes, and five top-10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron where the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2016.
HOME SWEET HOME: Cutting his teeth in the racing world in Charlotte, North Carolina, Byron is one of only a handful of drivers who was born and raised in the “home of NASCAR.” After visiting U.S. Legend Cars International headquarters in Harrisburg, North Carolina with his father in 2012, Byron found himself behind the wheel for the first time the next year competing in the Young Lion Division. Winning 33 of the 69 legend car events he ran across the United States in 2013, Byron went on to lock up the U.S. Legend Young Lions National championship and the Thursday Thunder Young Lion championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Progressing to the Legend Car Pro Division the next season, Byron also signed with JR Motorsports' developmental program at the same time. From that point on, Byron hasn’t slowed down any as he climbed the racing ranks before ultimately making it to the top level of NASCAR as a Cup Series rookie in 2018.
HOME TRACK FEEL: In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway being the home track of Byron, three other members of the No. 24 team also claim this as their home track. Mechanic Jacob Bowman (from Pilot Mountain), fueler Landon Walker (from North Wilkesboro) and jackman Spencer Bishop (from Pinehurst) are all from North Carolina.
VALVOLINE RETURNS: Valvoline will be the primary sponsor of Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at the Charlotte ROVAL this weekend. This will be the final race that the Valvoline colors will be onboard Byron’s No. 24 in the 2022 season. Valvoline Inc. (NYSE: VVV) is a leading worldwide marketer and supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services, with sales in more than 140 countries. Established in 1866, the company’s heritage spans more than 150 years, during which time it has developed powerful brand recognition across multiple product and service channels. Valvoline ranks as the No. 3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume. To learn more, visit www.valvoline.com.
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William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on his approach to the playoffs so far: "Rudy (Fugle) and I have been taking it one week at a time in the playoffs. We’re not worrying about races past the one that comes up next. I think it’s been working pretty well so far since we have the second-best average finish in the playoffs right now. I think when you start worrying too far in advance, that’s when mistakes happen. We’ve done a good job of showing up, having speed and executing a good race while minimizing any mistakes. Would we like to be in a better position heading into a cutoff race? Yeah, of course. We can’t worry about the what ifs. We just need to go out and do our jobs the best we can."
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on what he expects at the Charlotte ROVAL: "Even though we tested at the (Charlotte) ROVAL in the Next Gen car, I’m not sure there’s much that’s going to translate from that test since it was so long ago and we’ve made so many changes to the car since then. I think the biggest unknown will be in regard to tires. We’ll be running road course tires for the race. With part of the track being on the oval, we don’t know what to expect from tire fall off and grip levels in that part of the track. Same with our set up, the infield and the oval have such different characteristics and need such different things, you almost have to pick and choose which portion you think is most important. If anything, we can pull notes from the Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) road course race earlier this year, but that’s about the closest we have right now before we get on track Saturday."