NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: May 17, 2020
Race #5: Darlington Raceway
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval / 293 laps / 400.2 miles
Standings (from leader): 21st (-119)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Getting back to racing after a short break from competition, William Byron and the No. 24 team arrived at Darlington Raceway on a mission. With no practice or qualifying, the starting lineup for Sunday’s race was set based on a random draw with Byron starting 18th in his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Making his way through the field with ease, Byron raced his way to capture the Stage One win – his first of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Unfortunately, shortly into the second stage, a loose wheel caused Byron to spin, making contact with the wall and forcing him multiple laps down for damage repair, resulting in a 35th-place finish.
Starting 18th after a random draw based on owner points, Byron showed speed, making his way into the top 10 after only seven laps. When the competition caution came out on Lap 30, the Charlotte, North Charlotte, native was scored fifth. Due to no practice, the field was frozen under the competition caution, allowing teams to make multiple pit stops for lengthier changes. Under the caution, Byron came down pit road two times, first for a check of the splitter and for fuel, and then for four tires and chassis adjustments the second time. Lining back up in the fifth position for the restart, Byron continued his march to the front throughout Stage One, before ultimately grabbing the stage win – his first stage win of the season – as well as a Playoff point. Overall happy with the balance of his No. 24 Axalta Chevy, Byron came down pit road for four tires and fuel before returning to the track in the fourth position.
As Stage Two went green, the 22-year-old settled into the third position to preserve his equipment as much as possible. However, on Lap 110, Byron radioed to his Axalta team that he had a severe tire vibration. Trying to get to pit road, Byron’s right rear tire gave out and he made contact with the wall, bringing out the caution. Able to make it back to pit road, crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 24 team went to work making damage repairs to Byron’s Chevy. Returning to the track before the field went back green on Lap 116, Byron was scored 34th, three laps down due to the lengthy repairs. Through the remainder of Stage Two, the No. 24 team continued to make repairs when given the chance under consecutive yellow flags, before finishing the stage in 34th. During the stage break, Byron reported that the last run was the best his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE felt since the earlier incident.
Restarting 35th for the start of the final stage, Byron ran 10 laps before radioing to his team that it felt like something broke in the right rear, leading to a flat right rear tire. Coming to pit road under green for four tires, Byron rejoined the field but ultimately suffered a left rear tire rub a handful of laps later forcing him back down pit road under green. With the multiple tire issues, Byron was then scored 35th, 14 laps down. As the laps continued to wind down in the 293-lap event, Byron used the rest of the race to focus on things he could apply to the upcoming Wednesday night race, also at Darlington Raceway, before crossing the finish line in the 35th position.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We had such a fast car today. We just had a vibration that kept getting worse and the wheel finally came loose. I really appreciate me team sticking with it today and for all the hard work they have put in to unload with such a fast Axalta Chevy. Good thing we can rally and do it all again on Wednesday. We’ll be ready.”