WEST SUCCESS: In the final two races of NASCAR’s West Coast swing, William Byron recorded a pair of top-15 finishes – his best of the season so far. The NASCAR Cup Series rookie led laps at both ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway (ACS) – 15 laps at ISM and one lap at ACS. Byron also picked up his first stage point of the season when he finished 10th in Stage 2 at ACS last Sunday. The 20-year-old driver was the top-finishing rookie in both races. He has gained four positions in the overall driver point standings in the last two weeks as a result of the top-15s.
LIBERTY IS BACK…WITH AN UPDATED LOOK: Liberty University returns as the primary partner on the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for its second race of the season. The Liberty University colors were first featured on the car at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 12 races in 2018. The No. 24 Liberty University paint scheme has been updated since its debut at Atlanta, with the number color changing from red to white in order to increase visibility. The white numbers will feature a red drop shadow, which is the reverse of the way the No. 24 originally appeared on the Liberty scheme. Liberty University, founded in 1971, is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation and the largest university in Virginia. Located 81 miles northeast of Martinsville Speedway in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. More than 250 programs are offered online.
MARTINSVILLE BY THE NUMBERS: At the short track where Byron attended his first Cup race as a fan in 2006, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has two starts in the Camping World Truck Series, where he earned finishes of third and eighth. He has a chance to be included on the list of drivers who have finished in the top 10 in their first start at the 0.526-mile oval, joining Jeff Gordon, who finished eighth in his first start at the track in 1993. If Byron does earn a top-10, he would be only the second driver in the last 19 years to finish in the top 10 in his first start. Only four drivers have ever won at Martinsville in their first start, and it hasn’t been done since Morgan Shepherd accomplished the feat in 1981.
ALWAYS FINISHING: The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team has finished every race at the 0.526-mile paperclip – never earning a single DNF in 47 races with Jeff Gordon behind the wheel and four races with Chase Elliott. That’s a streak that Byron certainly hopes to continue this weekend.
HOME TRACK FOR GRUBB: One of the winningest active crew chiefs in NASCAR with 23 Cup wins – one of which came at Martinsville Speedway – Darian Grubb is a well-respected talent in the garage, having earned a Cup Series championship with legendary driver Tony Stewart in 2011 and won races with some of the top drivers in the sport, including Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Grubb is a native of Floyd, Virginia, located 46 miles northwest of Martinsville Speedway, making this weekend's venue his home track. His passion for racing began during his teenage years. While in high school, he joined his brother and a group of friends who worked on late model stock cars that competed at tracks throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. He began the old-fashioned way – hanging around the shop with his buddies on evenings and weekends to work on race cars. Grubb earned a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Tech in 1998.