NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: August 17, 2019
Race #24: Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 0.533-mile concrete oval/ 500 laps / 266.5 miles
Standings (from leader): 12th (-268)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Returning to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron fought the handling of his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 from the start of the weekend, qualifying 21st during Friday’s single-car qualifying session. Able to work his way through the field once the sun began to set during Saturday night’s race, Byron found himself in contention for a top-10 finish until a late race incident that required repairs left him with a 21st-place finish at the “Last Great Colosseum.”
Fighting a “wrecking loose” Liberty University Chevy during Friday’s qualifying session, Byron secured the 21st starting spot for the Saturday night race under the lights. When the field got the green flag for the 500-lap event, the sophomore driver continued to fight a loose race car, but as the run continued, the handling began to swing in the right direction. Happier with the handling of the No. 24, Byron made his way up to the 16th position just as the first caution was displayed on Lap 81. Coming to pit road under the yellow, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment to help aid in a slightly loose Liberty University Chevy. Restarting 15th on Lap 88, Byron was able to pick a couple more positions before the stage end, collecting the green-checkered flag from the 12th position. Not liking the last adjustment made, Byron once again came to pit road, this time under the stage break, for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments.
Lining up 12th for the start of Stage Two, Byron tried to make up ground but was fighting a No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that was just way too loose. When the caution came out 57 laps later, Byron elected to come back down pit road for another four tire stop and further adjustments. Rejoining the field in the 12th position, the Charlotte, North Carolina driver maintained his position until the caution was once again displayed, this time on Lap 244. Setting up a two-lap dash to the end of Stage Two, Knaus elected to keep the No. 24 on track under the caution allowing Byron to restart from the third position. Trying to battle in the closing laps from the bottom lane, Byron ultimately was able to score valuable stage points with a fifth-place finish in Stage Two. Coming down pit road under the stage break, the Liberty University crew went to work with a routine four time stop with minor adjustments.
With the varying pit strategy, Byron lined up 18th for the start of the final stage just past the halfway mark in Saturday night’s race. Trying to make up ground while fighting through heavy traffic, Byron ultimately went a lap down to the leaders on Lap 358 despite his best efforts to keep them at bay. However, just four laps later, teammate Alex Bowman blew a left front tire, leaving Byron with little time to react. Reporting that he had minor damage to the front nose of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 after the incident, Byron brought his car down pit road for four tires, fuel and to pull some tape off the grille, hoping for a quick caution to get his lap back. Restarting 14th, the first car one lap down, when the field went back green on Lap 374, Byron fought to maintain his position but unfortunately was not the beneficiary of the free pass when the caution came out just four laps later. Under the yellow, Byron reported that his temperatures were rising and Knaus elected to bring him done pit road for damage repairs from the previous incident. Requiring multiple trips down pit road, Byron ultimately rejoined the field in the 25th position, two laps down, with 113 laps remaining. While temperatures under the hood began to drop, unfortunately the handling of Byron’s Liberty University Chevy was on the tight side for the ensuing green flag run. As the laps continued to click off, Byron was able to improve his position, crossing the finish line in the 21st position.
Chase Elliott led the Hendrick Motorsports brigade to the finish line with his fifth-place result with Bowman crossing the stripe in 15th. Jimmie Johnson rallied to a 19th-place finish after an on-track incident early in the race, followed by Byron in 21st.