Date: May 27, 2018
Race 13 of 36: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 400 laps / 600 miles
Standings (from leader): 22nd (-343)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
While the result of Sunday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was not what William Byron and his team were hoping for, there was a silver lining as the patriotic No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 showed speed at the 1.5-mile oval. Byron was running in the top 15 before contact with the outside wall affected his night at his hometown track and led to an early exit from the 600-mile race.
Lining up 21st for the green flag, Byron maintained his position inside the top 25 while battling a loose handling condition on the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro. Crew chief Darian Grubb called for adjustments to the race car when the first caution came out on Lap 36. The Liberty University pit crew had a fast four-tire stop, picking up four valuable spots for Byron, who restarted 17th. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old driver continued to fight a lack of rear grip on the No. 24 Chevy. During the run, Byron fell to 24th before the next caution flag flew on Lap 83.
Grubb called for more adjustments on four-tire stop under the yellow, and Byron returned to the track still in 24th. This time, Byron reported that the changes had really started to help, and he gained four spots on the short 12-lap run to the end of Stage 1. Finding the right direction for changes, Grubb had the Liberty University crew continue to tune on the No. 24 Chevrolet during the stage-break caution.
Byron restarted 18th for the second segment. Within four laps of the restart, he had gained five spots to move into 13th and was still charging forward. Unfortunately, Byron made contact with the outside wall when his No. 24 Chevy snapped loose while he was running the high line. The Liberty University Chevy sustained heavy right-side damage and Byron brought the car to pit road for repairs. The crew got to work during the caution and made major repairs while losing just one lap on pit road. Byron was able to rejoin the field before the restart, lining up 34th. After another quick caution, Byron continued to hang on with the damaged race car. Again, misfortune struck as a mechanical failure caused contact with the wall yet again, and an electrical failure occurred as Byron nursed the No. 24 Chevy to pit road on Lap 143, which ended his night. He ultimately was scored 39th.
While the race didn’t turn out as planned, Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University team were honored to pay homage to two military families – those of Maj. Michael Donahue and Dr. Charlie Davidson – during the Memorial Day weekend event as part of the NASCAR Salutes program. Along with the patriotic paint scheme on the Liberty University Camaro, two names of fallen servicemen were carried on the car – Maj. Donahue’s on the windshield header and Dr. Davidson’s above the driver’s side door. Maj. Donahue was a Liberty alumnus and an assistant professor of military science for Liberty's Army ROTC program before he was killed in Afghanistan while on his third combat tour in the U.S. Army. Dr. Davidson was an Air Force chaplain and a faculty member at Liberty University, serving in the chaplaincy department. Members of both families attended the 600-mile race, dubbed “600 Miles of Remembrance.”
Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates had a solid night with all three finishing inside the top 15. Jimmie Johnson led the way in fifth, followed by Alex Bowman in ninth and Chase Elliott in 11th.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We just were really loose and trying to make the top work. I just got loose, the car came around and hit the wall, and then we had a bunch of damage. It started rubbing on the tire and then it wasn’t rubbing on the tire, it was cleared, but it just felt like something broke going into (Turn) 3 and we hit the wall again and then we had an electrical issue. Unfortunate, but we will go to Pocono and figure it out there.”