NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: May 20, 2020
Race #6: Darlington Raceway
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 228 laps / 311.4 miles
Standings (from leader): 16th (-129)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Using the results of Sunday night’s race at Darlington Raceway to set the field for Wednesday night’s race, William Byron rolled off 34th in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE despite a slight delay for rain. Fighting to gain track position throughout the first two stages, Byron raced his way to score stage points after a sixth-place finish in Stage Two. With the threat of rain looming during the final stage, pit strategy came into play. Ultimately though, when the caution came out with 25 laps to go, the rain began to fall ending the race early, leaving Byron with a solid 12th-place finish.
With the lineup for Wednesday night’s race coming from the last race’s results, Byron began the race from the 34th position. After rain delayed the start of the race, when the field finally went green, the 22-year-old driver immediately went to work trying to make up as much track position as possible. Making it to the 18th position by Lap 25 when the competition caution came out, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment to try loosening up his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Restarting 22nd due to varying pit strategy, Byron utilized the rest of Stage One to move up to the 18th position when the green-checkered flag flew. Still fighting a tight Axalta Chevy, crew chief Chad Knaus called the No. 24 down pit road for four tires, fuel, and a round of chassis and air pressure adjustments.
Lining up 16th for the start of Stage Two, Byron moved up four positions before the caution flag was displayed on Lap 72. With split pit strategy throughout the field, Knaus once again called Byron down pit road, this time for just four tires and fuel. Restarting 17th, Byron continued to fight the handling of his Chevy back in traffic with “dirty air.” When the caution came out 10 laps later, Byron remained on track while those who previously did not pit during the last caution had their vehicles serviced. With 39 laps left until the stage break, Byron restarted third and maintained that position until he began fighting a tight-handling No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Slipping back one position, the yellow flag was displayed on Lap 106, allowing Byron to come to the attention of his team for fresh tires and chassis adjustments. Restarting in sixth for the remaining 12 laps of Stage Two and weather in the area threatening, Byron maintained that position, scoring stage points in the process. Fighting a now “loose on entry” No. 24, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before the final stage.
With rain looming and the race past the halfway mark and deemed official, intensity in the field ramped up. Dropping to 17th on the restart, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native reset and began to work his way back thorough the field. Making it up to the 13th position as a long green-flag run ensued, Knaus called Byron down pit road under green on Lap 176. After getting four tires and fuel, Byron rejoined the field as the caution flag came out, catching him and the majority of the rest of the field one lap down due to green-flag pit stops not fully cycling through. Electing to take the wave around under the caution to get back on the lead lap, Byron restarted 20th with 42 laps left. When the caution came out six laps later, Byron came back down pit road for fresh tires and adjustments to aid in a still tight Axalta Chevy. Lining up 16th, Byron had a stellar restart, jumping up to 12th as the yellow was displayed once again just one lap later. However, this time the rain finally came, ending the race at Darlington Raceway early and leaving Byron with a 12th-place finish.
Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line as the highest finishing Hendrick Motorsports car in the eighth position with Byron following a few positions behind in 12th. Alex Bowman scored an 18th-place finish and Chase Elliott was credited with 38th after his on-track incident.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“It was a solid night for us. We really just needed a decent result. We’ve had a tough stretch of races with a multitude of things go bad that were really out of our control. Today was good just to be able to put together a solid result. Obviously having to start in the back was a detriment with a short race and short runs. Our pit stall was difficult too, having to go around the No.14 who ran really well all night and the No.42 was in front of us. So we had a tough time on pit road there. Overall it was solid and we got some stage points in Stage Two. We got trapped a lap down in that green-flag sequence which was tough. We rallied though and finished 12th. We’ll take it. Definitely not where we want to be but at least we could put a number up there and go into Charlotte.”