Date: March 26, 2018
Race 6 of 36: Martinsville Speedway
Track Specs: 0.526-mile oval / 500 laps / 263 miles
Start: 20th (Qualifying was cancelled due to weather)
Standings (from leader): 20th (-149)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Following a 24-hour race postponement for snow, William Byron and the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team earned a 20th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway on Monday. Qualifying was cancelled on Saturday, due to the weather, putting the No. 24 team in 20th position on the starting grid for the 500-lap race at the famed short track.
During Stage 1 of the race, Byron held on to the 19th position but then fell to 23rd as the handling of the car was tight in the center of the corners. The Liberty University team made trackbar and air pressure adjustments to help and Byron moved back up to 19th by Lap 62. He finished Stage 1 in 20th position noting that the car was good in Turns 1 and 2, but needed more help in Turns 3 and 4.
The No. 24 Liberty University team took the green flag for Stage 2 in 18th position. Byron, a NASCAR Cup Series rookie of the year contender, battled five cars on the track throughout the stage for position. There was a long green-flag run during Stage 2 during which the team was unable to adjust the car. At the end of the stage, Byron said the exit of the corners worked well but it was a challenge to get into the corners with any speed. The team finished Stage 2 in 23rd.
During the final stage of the race, Byron and the Liberty University team had to work hard to maintain position on the track. Byron noted that the changes made during the pit stop helped, but he still couldn’t get the car to turn well in the corners. The team made a final air pressure adjustment and for the last 100 laps Byron maintained a 19th-place position before dropping one spot in the closing laps to finish 20th. The finish was enough to move Byron to the top of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
Alex Bowman earned a seventh-place finish, leading the Hendrick Motorsports team to the finish line. Chase Elliott joined Bowman in the top 10, finishing ninth, and Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line in 15th place.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“The first couple of runs I thought we were decent. Fifty-lap runs seemed to be kind of our money spot, we needed a lot of 50-lap runs. I think that once we got into the run we struggled a little bit and towards the end we kind of managed. We just needed a couple of more short runs to kind of be able to gain some spots, but not bad. Not what we wanted by far, but this is a fun racetrack and hopefully we’ll come back stronger in the fall.”