After a practice and qualifying session on Saturday, William Byron qualified ninth for Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway. When the green flag dropped, Byron slid back to 12th early on fighting a really tight No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He continued to maintain that position until the competition caution came out on lap 30. Under the yellow, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for four fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Lining back up in 10th for the restart, Byron began to make up track position, reaching seventh by the time the yellow came back out on lap 56. During the caution break, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Continuing to pick up positions, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native raced his way up to the fifth position, before eventually finishing the opening stage in sixth. Lacking grip in the right rear tire during extended green-flag runs, Byron pit during the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Restarting fifth for the start of the second stage, Byron reported that the adjustments that the Axalta team made during their last pit stop made the car much better to drive. As the stage went on under green, Fugle made the call for his driver to come down pit road under green on lap 137 for four tires and fuel. Once pit stops cycled through, Byron was scored eighth but went back to work racing his way up to fifth just before the end of stage two. Still needing some help with the handling of his race car, Byron came down pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
With the final stage going green with 99 laps to go, Byron restarted in the third position. As a long green-flag run ensued, Byron maintained his third position until he started to lose feeling in the right rear tire. Wanting to avoid any potential issues, Fugle called him down pit road under green on lap 236 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Once green-flag pit stops cycled through, Byron maintained the third position until the caution came out on lap 254. Wanting a little more help with front turn, Byron came down pit road to the attention of the Axalta team for four tires and fuel. Lining up on the front row for the restart with 26 to go, Byron was able to take the top spot and start building a reasonable lead in the closing laps. However at the five to go mark, the handling of Byron’s No. 24 shifted to the really loose end of the spectrum, allowing the No. 22, who was running second, to catch him. Byron continued to lead as the race wound down. However, just before the Axalta driver could take the white flag, he was moved out of the way, forcing him into the wall and sustaining right side damage. Finishing out the remaining lap and a half at Darlington Raceway, Byron held on to finish the race in the 13th position.
WE JUST HEARD FROM JOEY (LOGANO) AND IT SOUNDED ALMOST LIKE IT WAS A RETALIATION THING. DID YOU GUYS HAVE SOMETHING HAPPEN BEFORE THAT?
“No, I mean, we were really close off of (turn) two and I think it spooked him and got him tight; and he was right against the wall and I got the lead. He does this stuff all the time. I've seen it with other guys. He drove in there 10 mph too fast, and with these Next Gen cars, he slammed me so hard it knocked the whole right side off the car and there was no way to make the corner.
“He can't win a race, so he does it that way. I don't know. It was close racing on the restart. We were faster than him. Obviously at the end, the right rear started to go away; and yeah, he didn't even make it a contest.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: KANSAS SPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2022
TIME: 3:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: FS1, SIRIUSXM, MRN