DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 18 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 7:30 P.M. ET, SATURDAY, JULY 6 (NBC/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Axalta Flames of Independence Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Thursday, July 4, at 3:15 p.m. local time in the media center at Daytona International Speedway.
CHICAGO CLOUT: Forced to start at the rear of the field for last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway due to an engine change from an oil leak discovered after practice, William Byron powered his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through the field, ultimately taking over the lead on Lap 99. When a caution with 60 laps remaining shuffled the running order, the driver continued to maintain his top-10 running position as the laps wound down before ultimately scoring an eighth-place result, his fifth top-10 finish of the 2019 season.
SOPHOMORE SEASON SUCCESS: At the halfway mark of his sophomore season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Byron has improved in spades behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevy. In 17 races so far, Byron has five top-10 finishes, 180 laps led and three poles compared to only four top-10 finishes, 61 laps led and zero poles in all of 2018. The driver is currently the leader in the entire Cup Series with an active streak of laps led in seven consecutive races, with the next closest driver at five straight events. That streak has him tied for the third-longest streak of races led in 2019 and ties his longest streak of consecutive races with laps led dating back to his standout Truck Series season in 2016. In the last eight races, Byron ranks eighth among Cup drives for the most amount of points earned with 257.
AXALTA’S FLAMES OF INDEPENDENCE: This weekend, Axalta Coating Systems will return to Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Daytona. The iconic Axalta flames will take on a new look for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. On Tuesday, the Axalta Flames of Independence paint scheme was unveiled sporting a pearl-white base coat with red and blue ombre flames traveling down the sides of the car.
DAYTONA DATA: When Byron returned to Daytona International Speedway for the Cup Series season opener this February, it marked his third start at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway but his first with No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus. A strong Speedweeks yielded Byron securing the pole for the Daytona 500, his first Cup Series pole award. Across the driver's three Daytona Cup Series starts, he’s led 56 laps and has a track-best finish of 21st earlier this season after an on-track incident with two laps remaining took him out of contention. He has a Daytona win on his racing resume – during his 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship campaign, Byron qualified third in the July race at Daytona and found himself at the front of the field when it mattered most, leading 29 laps to score the victory. In the process, he became the youngest driver with a Xfinity Series win at Daytona at 19 years, seven months and one day. Aside from his two Xfinity starts at Daytona, Byron also has one Truck Series start and one ARCA Racing Series start at the track on his resume.
HEADING HOME: Making the trip to the “Sunshine State” for the second time in 2019, three crew members on the No. 24 team call Daytona International Speedway their hometown track. Longtime Hendrick Motorsports rear-tire changer Johnny Roberts hails from Titusville, Florida, just down the coast from Daytona Beach, where he spent most of his time surfing before making his way to North Carolina and eventually trying out with Hendrick Motorsports in 2010. New to Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team in 2019, engineer Brandon McSwain grew up approximately 100 miles from the “World Center of Racing” in Auburndale, Florida. Just a few miles down the road from where McSwain grew up, engine tuner Ben Proctor calls Lakeland, Florida, home.
KNAUS’ KNACK: This weekend’s race at Daytona will mark the 37th race Knaus has called from atop the pit box at the track, but it will be his second with Byron at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Making his 2019 debut with the sophomore driver in February, the duo claimed the Daytona 500 pole. Aside from this year’s pole award, Knaus has two other pole awards at Daytona as well as two wins, sweeping the 2013 season.
William Byron on Daytona:
“I’m excited to get to Daytona this weekend. We obviously started off the season there with a lot of speed by getting the pole for the Daytona 500, and we really had a good race going until the last couple laps. As a team we’ve gotten stronger since then, on and off the track, and I think that can only help us. The thing with Daytona though is you can’t really prepare for it; it’s about making sure you’re still there in the end. The hope is to collect as many points as possible in the first two stages to help balance out what may happen in the end, but even then, it’s easy to lose a ton as well. Hopefully though we can get the result that I think our team deserves. I honestly feel like we should be contending for the win at the end.”