Rolling off from the 11th starting position at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL Sunday afternoon, William Byron quickly began to work his way to the front of the field in the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Fighting his way up to seventh by lap 9, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the pit strategy call to bring the No. 24 down pit road under green for four tires with the competition caution coming out the following lap. At the time of the yellow Byron was scored 18th, but with the strategy, didn’t come back down pit road, lining up 12th for the restart. As the laps wound down in Stage One, Byron continued to race his way through the field, reaching fifth by the time the yellow flag was displayed on lap 19. Fighting a tight Valvoline Chevy, Byron came down pit road for four tires and fuel before lining up 12th for the three-lap dash to finish the stage. Byron was able to make it back to eighth by the time the green-checkered flag flew at the end of Stage One.
Once again electing a different pit strategy, Byron did not come down pit road under the stage break, restarting third for the second stage. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native was able to power his way to second, but ultimately dropped back to fourth as the run went on. On a different pit cycle than some, Fugle called his driver down pit road under green on lap 47 for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment to the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Even with the varying pit strategy playing out, Byron was able to race his way to a 10th-place finish in Stage Two.
Electing not to pit once again at the stage break, Byron took over the lead when the field went green for the final stage of Sunday’s race. Liking the handling of his Valvoline Chevy, Byron continued to pace the field until Fugle called him down pit road under green on lap 75 for four tires and fuel. Regaining the lead once green-flag pit stops cycled through, Byron continued to extend his gap over second until the caution came out with under 25 laps remaining. Wanting fresh tires for the end, Byron came down pit road for four tries and fuel but had to avoid an oncoming car, relinquishing him to sixth for the restart. Making a power move to make up ground, Byron raced his way back to second but unfortunately made contact with a competitor that forced him off track in the chicane leading to a stop-and-go penalty. Just as Byron rejoined the field, the caution came out with him scored in 11th. Going back green with 14 laps to go, Byron once again began working his way through traffic, this time reaching the sixth position by the time the yellow flag was displayed. With eight laps to go, and in a must-win situation to advance on to the next round of the playoffs, Byron battled his way to within striking distance of the leaders as the laps wound down. Reaching the third position with over five laps to go, Byron gave it all he could before ultimately getting off course with two laps left. Despite his best effort, Byron crossed the finish line in the 11th position, but was eliminated from the playoffs in the process.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON
I KNOW YOU CAME UP A BIT SHORT, BUT WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM THIS PERFORMANCE TODAY?
“It was great. We had a really good car in two of the three races in this Round and today we had an amazing car, probably capable of winning, but just didn’t have things go our way there. At that point when I got up to third, my tires were shot, and there were only two laps to go. I wasn’t going to win, and made a mistake to not finish third, but at that point I was just mad.”
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH WHAT TYLER (REDDICK) SAID ABOUT IT BEING A MISTAKE IN HITTING YOU?
“Yeah, I know it was a mistake, but it doesn’t make any difference. The awareness there in that situation where a guy is there in the Playoffs and the first guy on new tires is probably going to win the race. And there was just a lack of awareness there. I feel like if the roles were reversed, I would be aware.”
YOU SAID YOU WERE MAD. WHAT WERE THE RANGE OF EMOTIONS TODAY?
“At the end I was just at a full rage, so I didn’t really care about finishing third because that wasn’t going to do anything for me in the Playoffs. It sucks now that we didn’t finish third, but overall, we were in position to win. We were leading on the long run, the caution comes out, we pass all the guys on new tires, and we were the first guys on new tires. That’s all you can do.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2021
TIME: 2:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: NBC, SIRIUSXM, PRN