LOVING LOUDON: Of all the tracks on the NASCAR circuit, New Hampshire Motor Speedway has always been a good one for William Byron. Making his third start at the 1.058-mile oval on Sunday in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron's two previous Cup Series starts both resulted in top-15 finishes. In fact, with an average finish of 13th, NHMS is Byron’s second-best track based on average finish.
DOMINATING FASHION: While he has always run well at NHMS, Byron got off to an unbeatable start at the “Magic Mile” early on. Making his debut at the 1.058-mile oval in 2015 in the K&N Pro Series East, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native qualified on the pole, led 68 of 70 laps before taking home the checkered flag. He followed up that performance the next year by dominating the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race. He started from the pole and led 161 of 175 laps en route to his sixth of seven victories in 2016. Moving up to the Xfinity Series in 2017, Byron earned a top-five finish after starting seventh and finishing third.
KNAUS PUTS THE MAGIC IN ‘MAGIC MILE’: Byron isn’t the only member of the No. 24 team who enjoys racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With 36 starts in the Cup Series, crew chief Chad Knaus leads active Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs with three wins and one pole at the “Magic Mile,” along with 10 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. In fact, Knaus’ three wins rank him second all-time among crew chiefs for wins at New Hampshire. A win on Sunday for Knaus would put him in a tie for first overall with four wins with fellow Cup Series crew chief Rodney Childers.
WELCOME BACK, LIBERTY U: Last appearing on the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE earlier this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Byron once again will carry the traditional red and white flames of Liberty University on board his car for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Liberty University is in its sixth season of sponsoring the 22-year-old driver dating back to his time in the late model ranks. Liberty 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 communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.
HEADING HOME: Traveling to New England for this Sunday’s Cup Series race, one crew member of the No. 24 team calls New Hampshire Motor Speedway his home track. Joining the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports crew last year, car chief Tyler Jones hails from South Royalton, Vermont, less than 100 miles northwest of the “Magic Mile.”
WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE: Starting 15th for Thursday night’s race at Kansas Speedway, Byron utilized pit strategy to gain track position throughout the race. With just over 50 laps to go, the driver of the No. 24 took over the lead. However, a couple late-race cautions changed the complexion of the event, leaving Byron with a 10th-place finish, his sixth top-10 result of the season.
SIGHTS ON THE NEXT SEVEN: Looking to lock himself into the playoffs for the second time in his three-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Byron currently is 16th in the playoff standings with two playoff points and seven races left in the regular season. While a win in one of the upcoming points-paying races would automatically secure his position in the fight for the championship, Byron currently is sitting 10 points above the playoff cutline heading into the New Hampshire weekend.
Driver William Byron on racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
“It’s a challenging track and has become more of a challenge for me since they’ve put the PJ1 down. It was already a slick track, but with the traction compound it almost has more of a slick feeling. You’re also on the brakes hard at New Hampshire and there’s a lot of bumps under braking. Managing all those bumps and oscillations in the track is important, as well. Some guys are really good at that and it shows in their ability to make speed. I think understanding what your car needs to be able to do to run well there is the key.”
Byron on NHMS's progression throughout a race:
“New Hampshire is a really line-sensitive track already, but the traction compound makes it even more so, especially with the way the marbles accumulate outside the preferred groove. I think as a driver you try to keep your car within that line that is really fast but also try to give the best feedback you can on how to adjust. Thankfully, you can manage the line more as the race goes on. Typically with our race cars, as soon as rubber gets laid down the groove starts to widen out and the room for error becomes greater. You can drive the car a little bit looser at that point. We just have to see how the track progresses and keep up with it.”