BEST YEAR YET: After 25 races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron is continuing to have a career-best season at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10s (tied for the third-most by a driver this season) all while leading 264 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-five finishes, top-10s, laps led and stage wins the 23-year-old driver has collected in a single year.
ONE MORE CHANCE: Heading to the final race of the 2021 Cup Series regular season, Byron has one more chance to add to his already impressive stats this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 4,296 laps running in the top 10 and 2,318 laps in the top five – the third-most in both categories throughout the field. Byron holds the third-best average running position in the Cup Series of 8.92 and an average finishing position of 12.12, placing him in the fourth position in the driver points standings. Byron already locked into this year’s playoffs from his Homestead win.
SUPER ON SUPERSPEEDWAYS: While superspeedway racing brings a lot of uncertainty, Byron seems to take to that style of racing well. In the past four superspeedway races, Byron has three top-10 finishes, including one win, which is tied for the most in the field with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.
YOUR DEFENDING WINNER: For the second year in a row, the Cup Series regular season will end at the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. Last year, Byron locked himself into the 2020 playoffs after racing his way to his first Cup Series career win under the lights at the summer event. While Byron is already in this year’s playoffs, he heads to Florida looking to repeat.
BACK AT THE BEACH: During his time in the Cup Series, Byron has seven starts at Daytona. In that time, he has collected one win, two top-five finishes, two top-10s and led 80 laps. However, his stats don’t accurately depict Byron’s success at the 2.5-mile oval. Not only is this the venue where he collected his first pole award (2019 DAYTONA 500) and his first Cup Series win, but he also won the Duel qualifying race in 2019 and was in position to capture the win during the summer race in 2019 before weather ended the event early, leaving Byron with a runner-up finish. Byron’s success at Daytona doesn’t end there. During his 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship campaign, Byron qualified third in the July race and led 29 laps to score the victory, becoming the youngest driver with a Xfinity Series win at Daytona at 19 years, 7 months and 1 day.
RUDY RETURNS: Saturday’s race at Daytona will mark the second track this season that Rudy Fugle will be making a return trip to as a Cup Series crew chief. Earlier this year, Fugle called the shots for Byron for the DAYTONA 500 where they qualified second and scored a 26th-place finish after being collected in an early on-track incident. Aside from that one Cup start, the Livonia, New York, native has seven other starts at DIS, all coming in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Fugle has one runner-up result, one top-five finish and two top-10s across those seven races. Of those Truck Series starts, one of them was with Byron where the duo qualified and finished 13th.
LIBERTY U IS BACK: Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend when the Cup Series takes on Daytona International Speedway Saturday night. Redesigned for the 2021 season, the new paint scheme features a white base with navy flames and red accents, the Liberty University No. 24 will be sure to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.
BEACH BUMS: Heading back to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the third time this season, three crew members on the No. 24 team will be making their way back home. 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. Engineer Brandon McSwain grew up approximately 100 miles from the “World Center of Racing” in Auburndale. Just a few miles down the road from where McSwain grew up, engine tuner Ben Proctor calls Lakeland home.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the stress of locking into the playoffs last year versus this year: “Last year was stressful for most of the race. It was one of those Game 7-type moments that you go into knowing it’s do or die. I actually really like that sensation. You know exactly what you need to do to get the job done instead of trying to count points. It was interesting how that race played out, though. With things that happened on track with other guys, I was in a position that I could make it in on points as long as I finished. So, during that red flag, it was really a mindset change for me of, ‘Okay we don’t need to win, but if we can, we will to seal the deal.’ It’s nice to not be in that bubble situation this year. Now I can watch and see how it plays out. We’re still in a similar situation of going into this race with a clear objective - secure playoff points and a win to set us up better moving forward.”
Byron on how his driving style has changed throughout the years on superspeedways: “I think I’ve learned a lot behind the wheel on these types of tracks. My driving style is really more dynamic now. With the stages, you have time to go really hard and then have times to relax and let the car find its way through traffic. Stage points are critical, though, in superspeedway racing. If you can get stage points you need to, but you don’t want to push it to get to that point and wreck right before the stage ends and wind up with 40th-place points. It’s a really tricky balance. I feel like for us, we’re going to try race for at least one of the stage wins to get the extra playoff point but also keeping strategy in mind to put us in position up front in the end. It’s up to me, though, on knowing when to push it, and I think I have a good idea of when those moments are.”