INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (2.5-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: SPEEDWAY, INDIANA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 26 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 2 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, SEPT. 8 (NBC/IMS/SIRIUSXM)
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9:45 a.m. local time in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center.
MAKING HISTORY: Capturing his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series pole this past weekend at Darlington Raceway – all of which have come in the 2019 season – William Byron joined elite company. Not only is he the youngest driver to earn the Cup Series pole at Darlington, but he is now one of three drivers to start from the pole position for the Daytona 500, the Charlotte 600 and the Southern 500 in the same year, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts (1962) and Bill Elliott (1985). No driver has ever won the pole for all four "crown jewel" races in one season, but the 21-year old driver can rewrite history if he is able to capture the top spot in qualifying this weekend for the Brickyard 400.
SOPHOMORE SUCCESS: In 2019, Byron has exceeded his totals in virtually every category from his 2018 rookie of the year campaign. Last season, he totaled four top-10 finishes and 61 laps led. So far this year, he has doubled his top-10s with eight and nearly tripled his laps led with 180. In addition, he has secured four pole positions and two top-five results compared to zero last year.
PLAYOFF TICKET PUNCHED: While there is still one race left in the 2019 Cup Series regular season, the No. 24 team has already locked itself into the 16-driver Cup Series playoffs field. Building his points gap over the bubble position dating back to the race at Kansas Speedway in May, Byron earned enough points in last Sunday’s race at Darlington to clinch his position. From 15 points below the cutoff line at Kansas, he is currently 66 point above it following last weekend. It is the first time the sophomore driver will be a part of the playoffs, and he became the ninth different driver that Hendrick Motorsports has taken into the playoffs, leading all organizations in series history.
LIBERTY U RETURNS: Kicking off a three-week stretch, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry Liberty University on board this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University has a long history with the sophomore driver starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks and is in the midst of its fifth season of sponsoring the 21-year-old driver. 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 business communication, Byron is now in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.
INDY INSIGHT: Making his second Cup Series start in the illustrious Brickyard 400, Byron is optimistic about the No. 24 team’s chances at a track where he’s had past success. While his lone Cup start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season was hindered by weather washing out all practice and qualifying, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native started the race 22nd and raced within the top 10 for parts of the race, even leading laps due to pit strategy. However, with varying strategies in the closing laps, Byron crossed the stripe in the 22nd position. In 2017, Byron made his first trip to Indianapolis in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While battling for a championship, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic track at 19 years, 7 months and 23 days. He’s not only the youngest driver to win a NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile track, but is the third-youngest winner in any series, behind two Indy Car Light Series drivers. Byron would love to kiss the bricks again this weekend, adding to the already lengthy legacy the No. 24 team has at Indy. The team has five wins in the Brickyard 400, all with Jeff Gordon, dating back to the inaugural race in 1994.
KNAUS KNOWS INDY: Returning to Indianapolis for the 18th time as a Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus leads all crew chiefs for Brickyard 400 wins with four. Those four wins with Jimmie Johnson included trips to Victory Lane in three of four seasons from 2006-2009. His last win at the 2.5-mile oval came in 2012. Knaus has also visited Victory Lane at Indy one other time as a member of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team in 1994 during the inaugural running of the Brickyard 400.
CHEVY STAGE: Byron will make an appearance at the Team Chevy stage in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. ET for a question-and-answer session.
HOME SWEET HOME: No. 24 team front-end mechanic Ty Sipes hails from Bloomfield, Indiana, which is located approximately one hour and 45 minutes southwest of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Growing up, Sipes gained experience at local racetracks working on USAC Series cars. He earned his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University in 2012 and even worked as a mechanic with Kasey Kahne’s World of Outlaws sprint car team before joining Hendrick Motorsports during the latter part of the 2014 season.
DISHING ON DARLINGTON: Starting from the front row for the ninth time in the 2019 season, Byron ran in the top five early on last weekend at Darlington and showed speed throughout the race despite having to make up track position after an early issue on pit road. Making his way back inside the top five, Byron was poised to come home with a solid finish with an average running position of 10.43 before getting collected in a late-race incident. Suffering damage to the nose of his No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard/City Chevrolet Throwback Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron was able to continue and crossed the finish line in the 21st position, collecting enough points to lock himself into the 2019 playoffs.
William Byron on racing at Indianapolis:
"I think this year’s package is going to do really well at Indy. It was good in the Xfinity Series when we ran there and we had good passing throughout the race. I think it will be a better race than Pocono was because of the short chute you have in between Turns 1 and 2 that give you the opportunity to really get a run on somebody. I think it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Depending on the weather and how hot it is, I think will play a role, too, on the outcome of Sunday’s race.”