MR. CONSISTENCY: So far in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron and the No. 24 team have been a model of consistency. After seven races, Byron is currently on a career-best streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes – the longest active streak in the Cup Series. His five top-10 finishes are the second-most by a driver this year behind only points leader Denny Hamlin with six. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 1,304 laps running inside the top 10 – the second-highest amount in the field behind Hamlin (1,443). Of those 1,304 laps, 594 were inside the top five, which ranks seventh-best. Currently, Byron has led 129 laps across three races – the fifth-most in the Cup Series. In fact, Byron has the fifth-best average running position so far in the 2021 season of 9.49.
MARTINSVILLE MINUTES: Despite his young age, Byron’s time at Martinsville Speedway goes back to when he attended his first Cup Series race as a fan at the paperclip-shaped track in 2006. Since then, the 23-year-old driver has moved through the NASCAR ranks and is now poised to make his ninth overall start at the half-mile venue and his seventh in the Cup Series. Of his six Cup Series starts there, Byron has a best finish of second from the fall of 2019. He also has two other Martinsville starts, both coming in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016, when he qualified seventh for both events and raced to one top-five finish and another top-10.
FUGLE’S FONDNESS OF MARTINSVILLE: While this Saturday’s race will be Rudy Fugle’s first at the Cup Series level at Martinsville Speedway, the Livonia, New York, native has 14 starts at the paperclip-shaped track under his belt, all in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those 14 events, Fugle has one win (May 2019), six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. Two of his previous starts were with Byron, both in 2016, when the duo started seventh in both races and raced to a third-place result in the spring and an eighth-place finish in the fall.
LIBERTY U ONBOARD: After a weekend off from racing, Byron will drive the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE when the Cup Series returns to the track Saturday. Redesigned for the 2021 season, the new paint scheme features a white base with navy flames and red accents, allowing the Liberty University No. 24 to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron starting back in 2014 in the late model ranks. 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 communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s new Liberty University paint scheme, click here.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the challenges of racing at Martinsville: “Martinsville Speedway is always difficult no matter how many times you’ve raced there. You have to balance the entry of the corner to how you turn in the middle, all while not allowing the guy behind you to get underneath you on the exit of the corner. You want to be aggressive enough to make up ground but also not overly aggressive that you lose track position early on. It’s a track that requires patience and the knowledge of when to push it and when to save. It’s a challenge for sure but I enjoy it. It makes it tough on the drivers to get around there.”
Byron on adjusting to the removal of the infield grass at Martinsville: “I’m interested to see what it’s like with the grass removed but I don’t think it will change much on the racetrack. The only thing I think that will be different is your visual cues. You’ll have to get use to looking at the concrete at the start of the race and set new marks for yourself in the corners. That’s always critical there. It will make the first couple laps interesting but once you figure those marks out, it will get easier as the race goes.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on preparing for Martinsville: “Martinsville Speedway is a tough track for anyone, even those who are statistically good there. When you look at William’s stats there, he either runs really well or he has an issue happen. That’s the two-fold thing we have to deal with this weekend. How do we make the car durable and make it last through a grueling 500-lap race while making it drive the way he wants and not taking all the speed out of the car? We’re trying to use some of the previous notes since William has ran well there in the Cup Series and the No. 9 team won there last. We have a lot of good notes to use; we’re just trying to balance car durability and survival versus speed and keeping track position.”