ONE DOWN, 35 TO GO: Kicking off the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season at Daytona International Speedway, driver William Byron showed speed all week in his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. He opened Speedweeks with a top-five finish in the Clash at DAYTONA, which was run on the facility’s road course. Byron followed it up with the second-fastest lap in qualifying for the DAYTONA 500, just behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman. Starting from the pole Thursday night in the second qualifying race, Byron led 34 laps in the 60-lap event but was caught in an on-track incident that forced the team into a backup car. Having to start at the tail end of the field for “The Great American Race,” Byron was maneuvering through the field when he was collected in a multi-car incident on lap 14. After a weather delay, the No. 24 team was able to repair Byron’s machine to complete the race and salvage a 26th-place finish.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: After its first appearance on track last week, Byron will once again pilot the newly designed No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Sunday’s race at the DAYTONA Road Course. While the No. 24 Chevrolet has been synonymous with the iconic flames paint scheme, 2021 brings a new look for Byron’s Axalta machine. Keeping an old-school flair with a twist, Axalta Coating Systems unveiled its new colors for the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in January. Utilizing a matte black base, Byron’s Chevy features bright stripes in an array of colors that are hard to miss on the track. Now in its 29th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta returns as primary partner on Byron’s No. 24 for 14 races in 2021. For a better look at the new No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, click here.
MAKING LEFT AND RIGHT TURNS: Byron got his first taste of the DAYTONA Road Course last season, and he’s confident about Sunday’s race. Last year, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native scored points in both stages before earning an eighth-place finish. Most recently, Byron ran the Clash at DAYTONA last Tuesday, which was held on the road course for the first time. In the non-points exhibition race, Byron started and finished fifth despite suffering a late-race flat tire.
RINGER IN THE MAKING: Even with a limited background in road-course racing, Byron has become accustomed to it quickly. In 2019, he recorded his first career Cup Series stage win at Sonoma Raceway in June after qualifying second. Since then, the 23-year-old driver has finished in the top 10 in the last three road-course events. Byron has also led more than 20 laps in three of the last five road-course races and led the second-most laps (27) on road courses in 2020, just behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who led 61.
‘ROOKIE’ RUDY: Crew chief Rudy Fugle made his Hendrick Motorsports and Cup Series debut atop the pit box for Byron during Speedweeks last week. While the results may not reflect it, the pair lodged small victories along the way. Now, the Fugle-Byron duo will make a return trip to the 3.56-mile DAYTONA Road Course for Sunday’s race after competing there last week in the 35-lap Clash exhibition that kicked off 2021. Fugle also has one other DAYTONA Road Course start under his belt, coming last season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with driver Christian Eckes, who started second and raced to a 12th-place result.
AXALTA ELECTROLIGHT: Last week, Axalta unveiled the newest addition to the Axalta Injector at Daytona International Speedway – a newly painted No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that will be on display for fans to see all year long. The car on display combines Axalta’s new solventbourne basecoat, Cromax XP, with its 2021 Color of the Year, Electrolight. The refreshing green-yellow hue has been formulated with mobility-technology while utilizing the easy-to-use solventborne basecoat that delivers a high-quality finish. Axalta and Byron recently announced that the No. 24 team will run a 2021 Color of the Year Electrolight paint scheme for the Pocono Raceway doubleheader in June.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on gaining road course racing knowledge: “I don’t have a ton of experience on road courses, but I have gotten much more comfortable with them the last couple years and I think our most recent races show that. We haven’t had a ton of track time at the DAYTONA Road Course but running the Clash last week helped us dial things in a bit better. Starting position is a big factor as well and, unfortunately, we won’t have the best starting spot based off the scoring metric. There are ways to make up positions on road courses, depending on the strategy you use. We’ll take the notes we have and do what we need to do to get a good finish.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on returning to the DAYTONA Road Course: “We definitely have confidence for this Sunday’s race, especially after running there last week. The handling wasn’t where we wanted it when the race started but we made good adjustments throughout the race and were able to really learn about what we can expect when we go back. Tire fall off was pretty high, and we can expect conditions to be pretty similar Sunday. We fought through adversity during the Clash but if we can execute like we need to this weekend, I think there a very good chance we’ll be in contention for the win.”