NOT DONE YET: Needing to make up 18 points on the NASCAR Cup Series playoff cut line last Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 team did just that. Scoring crucial points in both stages in the 500-lap event, Byron battled his way within striking distance of the leaders in the closing laps, scoring a track-best finish of third at “The Last Great Colosseum.” His third-place result was good enough to secure his spot in the next round of the playoffs by two markers. With points resetting for the Round of 12, Byron is now sitting eighth in points, just above the cut line by one point.
BEST YEAR YET: With only seven races left in the 2021 Cup Series season, Byron is continuing to have a career-best season at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, he 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), 10 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s all while leading 276 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 season.
1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: With the Cup Series racing six times on 1.5-mile tracks so far this year, Byron has finished inside the top 10 in five of those events. This season, he has an 8.33 average finishing position in 1.5-mile races – the third best behind Kyle Busch and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson. Going back as far as the last 10 races on 1.5-milers, Byron has secured seven top-10 finishes – tied for the fourth-most behind Busch (nine), Martin Truex Jr. (nine) and teammate Alex Bowman (eight).
LOOKING FOR LUCK: When the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet ZL1 1LE unloads for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it will mark Byron’s eighth Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile venue. Out of those seven previous starts, Byron has a track-best finish of seventh (September 2019). However, Byron’s stats at Las Vegas don’t accurately represent the strength the No. 24 team has displayed there. Last February, he ran solidly inside the top five before a flat tire late in the race resulted in a 22nd-place finish. In September 2020, Byron pushed through the field to find himself within the top-10 running order, but an on-track incident with six laps to go left him in 25th. Byron rebounded in the spring of this year, starting second and racing to an eighth-place result.
VIVA LAS RUDY: Returning to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second time with the Cup Series, crew chief Rudy Fugle is confident heading to a venue where he has had success at before. In his first Cup Series showing earlier this season, the No. 24 scored an eighth-place result at the 1.5-mile track. Aside from that one start, the Livonia, New York, native has called the shots for 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Las Vegas. He earned one win (March 2019) with Busch, four top-five finishes, six top-10s, three pole awards and 238 laps led. With Byron in the Truck Series in 2016, the duo qualified 10th and raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1.5-mile venue.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: With the Round of 12 kicking off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Sunday’s race. Now in its 29th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta will return as primary partner on Byron’s No. 24 for 14 races in 2021.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on how crucial Las Vegas is for the next round of the playoffs: "It’s a great feeling knowing that we had the performance we did in Bristol and were able to advance on. I knew this team was capable of it but to be able to execute it in a Game 7-style situation is even more impressive. Now we’re moving on and turning or focus to the next round. These upcoming tracks are ones that have always been good for us but they also can be wildcards in their own respective, especially Talladega (Superspeedway) and the Charlotte ROVAL. That’s why it’s even more important for us to go to Vegas, execute everything and maximize points. We don’t want to start this round off in a hole like we did the first round. Myself and Rudy (Fugle) would rather play offense through these next three races than have to worry on defending points. Vegas is crucial, in my mind, to determine how you play the rest of the round. Hopefully, we come out with a win and the only points that matter for the next two races are playoff points.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the momentum heading to Las Vegas: “We’re super excited to hit the reset button at this stage. Darlington put us behind and we didn’t have a good run at Richmond. It made Bristol way too stressful. I feel like Vegas is really good for us, and this whole round has tracks where we are fast and perform well. I’m really excited about getting a reset, getting a good start at Vegas, competing for a win and maybe not having to worry about the next two (races), so that would be great.”