ISM RACEWAY (ONE-MILE OVAL)
LOCATION: AVONDALE, ARIZONA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE FOUR OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3:30 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, MARCH 3 (FOX/MRN/SIRIUSXM)
No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
WHAT SOPHOMORE SLUMP?: Just three races into his second NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has already made gains behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Kicking off the 2019 season by capturing the pole for the 61st running of the Daytona 500, Byron has an average starting position of 12.6 and an average finishing position of 18th in the first three events. The 21-year-old has led the field for 65 laps cumulatively so far in 2019 compared to 61 laps led throughout the entirety of the 2018 season. Byron is also currently sitting 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, compared to 24th at this same point last year.
VENTURING TO THE VALLEY OF THE SUN: Heading to a track where he has found success in every level of national NASCAR competition, Byron will return to ISM Raceway for the third time in his Cup career, a track that ranks third of his best tracks based on the average finish (10.5). Last spring, Byron qualified a track-best 11th, led 15 laps and went on to finish in the 12th position. Returning in the fall, he rolled off the grid 19th but raced his way to his fourth career top-10 in the Cup Series, a ninth-place finish, en route to locking up the 2018 Rookie of the Year award. The 21-year-old driver also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at ISM Raceway on his resume, both coming in 2017, when he started on the front row and finished in the top four in both races, including a win in November. With that victory, he became the youngest winner ever at ISM Raceway in the Xfinity Series at 19 years, 11 months and 13 days. In 2016, Byron was behind the wheel for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series race at the one-mile oval, where he led 112 laps and was in the hunt to make the final four of the playoffs before an engine failure ended his night early.
HEATING UP THE DESERT: With Arizona known for its hot climate, Byron will also be bringing the “heat” when he gets to ISM Raceway this weekend for the fourth race of the 2019 season. Byron will once again sport the iconic Axalta flames when Axalta Coating Systems returns to the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the race at ISM Raceway. As a leading global company focused solely on coatings and providing customers with innovative, colorful, beautiful and sustainable solutions, Axalta Coating Systems is continuing its 27-year partnership with Hendrick Motorsports as a primary partner for both the Nos. 24 and 88 teams in 2019. The company sponsored Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team for 23 years beginning in November 1992 before moving to the No. 88 team in 2016 and sharing primary sponsorship with the No. 24 starting in 2018. This year, Axalta returns as the primary partner on the No. 24 Chevrolet for 13 races.
KNAUS’ PHOENIX PROWESS: For the 33rd time as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, Chad Knaus will sit atop the pit box at ISM Raceway this Sunday. With four wins at the one-mile oval, all coming with Jimmie Johnson, Knaus ranks second among active Cup crew chiefs, just one behind the top spot. He also has three pole awards at ISM Raceway with the No. 48 team.
HOMETOWN HYPE: Coming up on the second stop of the NASCAR Goes West campaign, one member on the No. 24 Axalta team will be heading to familiar territory. Michael “Too Tall” Madill, the rear suspension mechanic for the No. 24 Axalta team, hails from Glendale, Arizona, approximately 30 minutes from ISM Raceway. At the age of 16, he made the move to North Carolina to begin his career in NASCAR. Now 30 years old, Madill is in the midst of his 11th season in the sport and his second with the No. 24 bunch.
SUMMING UP VEGAS: Qualifying 20th for his third NASCAR Cup Series start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Byron methodically made his way into the top-15 running order by the end of Stage 1 last Sunday. Running just shy of the top 10 during Stage 2, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 found himself in position to take over the lead as green-flag pit stops began. Knaus opted to play pit strategy, allowing Byron to keep the lead for 21 laps before coming to pit road for a fuel-only stop just shy of the Stage 2 break. Lining up 12th for the start of the last stage, Byron raced his way up to the eighth position but began to slip back as the run progressed and his No. 24 Chevy tightened up. Making one final pit stop during the 267-lap race, Byron tried to regain track position in the closing laps but was ultimately still too tight, finishing last Sunday’s race in 16th.