MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY (0.526-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: RIDGEWAY, VIRGINIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 33 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, OCT. 27 (NBCSN/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
SOPHOMORE SEASON SUCCESS: While William Byron’s first NASCAR Cup Series playoff run may have come to an end after last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway, the sophomore driver has nothing to hang his head over with four races remaining in the 2019 season. Aside from advancing to the Round of 12 in his first Cup Series playoff appearance, Byron has won five pole awards in 2019, tied for the series lead, with two coming in the last eight races. In the last seven races, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished in the top 10 four times, including two top-five finishes. All four of Byron’s career Cup Series top-five finishes have come in the last 15 races.
LEADING THE FIELD: The 21-year-old driver has led laps in six of the last seven races, including the last four consecutive events. That marks the longest active streak for consecutive races led (four) over six other Cup Series drivers, including Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who is tied for second with two consecutive races with laps led.
LIBERTY RETURNS: This weekend will mark the last race of the 2019 season that Liberty University will be on board Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. After returning as a primary sponsor of the No. 24 team in 2019 for 12 races, Liberty University announced last month that they have extended their partnership with Byron and Hendrick Motorsports for 12 races through the 2021 Cup Series season. 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.
MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Since attending his first Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in 2006 as a fan, Byron has since moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his sixth start at the "paperclip," his fourth in the Cup Series. In those previous three Cup Series starts at the 0.526-mile track, Byron has a best starting position of 11th, which came in last year’s fall race. However, luck hasn’t always been on the Charlotte, North Carolina, native’s side, with a best finish of 20th in the 2018 spring race. Byron has two other Martinsville starts, both coming in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2016, when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to a third-place finish in the spring and an eighth-place result in the fall.
KNAUS’ KNACK FOR MARTINSVILLE: Calling the shots on top of the pit box for the 39th time at Martinsville Speedway, No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus is ready to add another grandfather clock to his collection after this weekend’s race at the "paperclip." Collecting nine wins already, the second-highest amount at one track in his career (11 wins at Dover), his most recent win at the Virginia short track came in the fall of 2016.
SEE THE 24 FOR $24: For this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway, Liberty University and the track teamed up to offer fans the opportunity to attend Sunday’s race for $24 to cheer on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The ticket offer includes one ticket for the Cup Series race, a pre-race experience pass with access to a question-and-answer session with Byron Sunday morning as well as free parking. For more information or to purchase the Liberty University ticket offer, click here.
Q&A WITH BYRON: Fans will have the opportunity to join Byron for a question-and-answer session this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The session is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 27, at 11:45 a.m. ET on the front stretch of the track. For access, fans can either purchase a pre-race experience pass (click here) or receive one through the Liberty University ticket package for this weekend’s race.
KEEPING UP WITH KANSAS: Looking to advance on to the next round of the playoffs last weekend, Byron methodically worked his way through the field at Kansas Speedway from the 25th starting position and found himself within the top 10 halfway through Stage 1. While pit strategy played a factor in track position, Byron raced his way into the top five and maintained that position for the remainder of the race. With two green-white-checkered flag attempts to end the race in overtime, Byron ultimately crossed the finish line with his fourth top-five finish in 2019 and a Cup Series track-best finish of fifth. Unfortunately, his strong run at Kansas Speedway wasn’t quite enough to help him advance on to the Round of 8.
WELCOME BACK HERTZ: On Wednesday, it was announced that Hertz has extended its partnership with Byron and the No. 24 team through 2021. In conjunction with the announcement, Byron helped Hertz unveil his new 2020 paint scheme that he will debut next month at ISM Raceway. The paint scheme reflects the inverse of the custom Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports Camaros that are being release to rental markets in the coming months. After the announcement, media members were then given the opportunity to ride shotgun with Byron in the Camaro ZL1 or to get behind the wheel themselves and put down their best lap time in the Camaro SS. For a closer look at the 2020 paint scheme, click here.
HERTZ ULTIMATE RIDE SWEEPSTAKES: In conjunction with Hendrick Motorsports, Hertz is introducing a new “pace car” to its fleet with a limited-edition custom 2020 Camaro ZL1 and 2020 Camaro SS. Available to be reserved beginning mid-October 2019, customers have the opportunity to rent the custom Camaros fashioned in the signature Hertz yellow and black color scheme with custom wheels, interior badging and full performance upgrades outfitted by HMS. In conjunction with the program rollout, customers can celebrate the debut of the limited-edition Camaros by participating in The Hertz Ultimate Ride Sweepstakes – beginning Sept. 18, through Nov. 15, 2019 – for a chance to win a 2020 Hertz-Hendrick Motorsports Camaro SS. Five finalists will also win an exclusive driving experience in Charlotte. Click here for more information on the Hertz-Hendrick custom Camaro program.
William Byron on racing at Martinsville:
“I was watching the fall Martinsville race back from 2017 and 2018. Last year’s race was relatively calm but the year before, that race was absolutely crazy. There was a lot of action, and as a fan it was fun to watch. I think it will be more like that this year with very close racing and tempers on edge. There’s really only one way to get around that place and that’s right on the curb. You just try to keep it stuck to the curb all day and hopefully that pays off.”