BEST YEAR YET: After 24 races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron is continuing to have a career-best year at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), eight top-five finishes and 15 top-10s (tied for the fourth-most by a driver this season) all while leading 246 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, this is the most top-five finishes, top-10s, laps led, and stage wins the 23-year-old driver has collected in a single season.
TWO MORE CHANCES: With only two more races until the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begin, Byron has two more chances to add to his already impressive stats for the regular season. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has spent 4,138 laps running in the top 10 – second-most in the series – and 2,246 laps in the top five – third-most throughout the field. Byron holds the third-best average running position in the Cup Series of 8.94 and an average finishing position of 12.54, placing him in the fourth position in the driver points standings and solidifying his spot in this year’s playoffs.
MICHIGAN MINUTES: With eight NASCAR national series starts at Michigan International Speedway under his belt, Byron will be adding one more to his résumé this Sunday. Of those eight races, six came at the Cup level where he has a track-best starting position of third and a track-best finish of eighth - both in August 2019. Byron also has one NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the 2-mile D-shaped oval, where he qualified fourth and ended the race in the runner-up position. Byron has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, as well. He started third and finished fourth with crew chief Rudy Fugle on top of the box.
OH SO CLOSE: While Sunday will mark Fugle’s first Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway, the Livonia, New York, native is very familiar with the 2-mile track. With seven starts at the D-shaped oval, all coming in the Camping World Truck Series, Fugle has six top-five finishes and six top-10s. He has finished second on three occasions, third once, and placed fourth two times, with his only finish outside of the top four coming in 2019 with a 15th-place result. In fact, Fugle’s drivers have an average starting position of 5.4 and an average finishing position of 4.6 at MIS. This weekend he hopes to continue his success by capturing his first checkered flag at the Michigan venue.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: On a stretch of three races since the Cup Series returned from the two-week break, Byron will once again climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, this time for Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. 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 the high speeds at Michigan: “I think with the 550 horsepower package we run, the mid-corner section of the track feels more high speed than anything. Even though we’re going slower down the straightaways than we were a couple years ago, I feel like the mid-corner now feels almost sketchy. It’s fully on edge and you’re close to always chattering the tires. It’s a fast track that makes you feel like you’re always running on a fine line. It’s just a different sensation of speed with this package.”
Byron on the importance of winning in Michigan: “Michigan is such an important racetrack, not only for teams but for manufacturers – Chevrolet, most importantly. It’s a fun race that’s all about bragging rights for them on who had the most power, the most downforce, and things like that. I feel like we are heading into this race with a really good shot to get it done for Chevy. We have really fast cars on the 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks. So, I’m excited to see how things play out for us and hopefully we can be the ones to give the bragging rights to Chevy at the end of the day.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the final races before the playoffs: “Since the two-week break, we wanted to make sure we came back with high intensity. We obviously bring it every week, but we wanted to ensure that everyone understands that we want to treat this like a 14-week playoff. With the last two races we ran and the next two coming up, we want to make sure that we are executing at the highest level possible. It’s about the cars you bring to the track, the execution level and going through every detail. That is what we’re trying to hit on to make sure we are ready to go for the playoffs. We don’t want to wait until the playoffs start to be like, ‘Okay, it’s time to step it up.’ It’s a fight every week, so we’re trying to make sure that we’re bringing it at all times.”