1.5-MILE MOMENTUM: William Byron is no stranger to success on mile-and-a-half tracks during his NASCAR Cup Series career. In 2021, he picked up the win in the third race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway – his first on a 1.5-mile configuration. He went on to collect seven top-10 finishes across nine races on the intermediate tracks throughout the year – tied for the second-most behind only Kyle Busch (eight). In fact, Byron scored 370 points on 1.5-mile venues in 2021 – the third most behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (440) and Busch (381). Heading into Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Byron is on a streak of two consecutive top-10 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks.
LOOKING FOR LUCK: When the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 unloads for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it will mark Byron’s ninth Cup Series start at the 1.5-mile venue. In the eight previous starts, Byron has a personal-best finish of seventh (September 2019). However, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s stats at Las Vegas don’t accurately represent the strength the No. 24 team has displayed there. Byron is tied for third across the Cup Series field for the longest active streak of races led at Las Vegas (three). Also, the 24-year-old’s 71 laps led there rank as the sixth-most he’s led at a single track.
VIVA LAS RUDY: Returning to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the third time with the Cup Series, crew chief Rudy Fugle is confident heading to a venue where he has had success before. In his two Cup showings last season, the No. 24 team scored an eighth-place result in the spring and was poised for a top-five result in the fall before a flat tire with 50 laps to go left them with an 18th-place finish at the 1.5-mile track. Aside from those two starts, the Livonia, New York, native has called the shots for 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Las Vegas. He has collected one win (March 2019) with driver Busch, four top-five finishes, six top-10s, three pole awards and 238 laps led. With Byron in the Truck Series in 2018, the duo qualified 10th and raced to a fifth-place finish at the 1.5-mile venue.
AXALTA TRIPLE: Already having been on board for the first two races of the 2022 season, Axalta will adorn Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 once again for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Axalta is now in its 30th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on how the Next Gen car will race at Las Vegas: “Just based on off-season testing and the characteristics of Vegas, I think racing is going to be pretty similar to Charlotte (Motor Speedway). It’s going to be fast, and Vegas typically has a lot of grip in the springtime. The fall race is a little bit of a different story since it’s a little bit hotter that time of year. The spring race is a little more straightforward in that you can tell pretty early on who has the fast cars, and I think that will be the case again. That was us for sure this time last year, and I think we’ll have another good shot to win this race. Hopefully we get it done this time.”
Byron on what makes Las Vegas different from other mile-and-a-half tracks: “It’s got a lot of character but it’s fast and really smooth. I feel like Vegas and Phoenix, as weird as that sounds, have similar asphalt. They’re very smooth surfaces but have character as well. With it being so smooth you really have to run all over and utilize every lane to be good. The track changes a lot with rubber buildup, too, so you have to keep up with that so you don’t get behind early on in the race.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on maintaining confidence despite misfortune early in the season: “Obviously this isn’t the start to the year that we envisioned, but no one on the No. 24 team is getting down about it. It’s only been two races and even then, both races we were running up front and in contention for the win. We have a strong team, from the work they put in, the speed we show and how we execute during the weekend. The results don’t reflect that accurately. We had a hot rod in Fontana, and we’ll have another one in Vegas. We’re not going to dwell on the past. We’re already focused on Vegas and ready for our next challenge.”
Fugle on what it takes to run well at Las Vegas: “Vegas in the spring has much cooler temperatures than when we race there in the fall. The spring race seems to focus more on overall speed and setting yourself up with track position. Vegas is a track where you walk a fine line with your setups, and in Fontana we really found out just how fine that line is with the Next Gen car. I feel like we showed a lot of speed in Fontana, so if we keep up with track changes, we should be up front again this weekend.”