RECAPPING THE RACE
William Byron ended Saturday’s practice session fastest of those in Group B and followed it up with a third-place qualifying effort in the No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. When the green-flag dropped on Sunday evening’s 367-lap race, Byron quickly took over the second position before sliding back to third when a light rain shower began, bringing out the caution. With the rain never getting very heavy, the field continued to remain on track, running laps under yellow. With rain finally stopping, Byron chose the high lane, restarting fourth when the race got back going on lap 17. Byron quickly took over third and remained there until the competition caution came out on lap 35. Building a little tight over the run, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for the No. 24 to come down pit road under the caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The Valvoline team picked up one spot on pit road, allowing Byron to restart on the front row. After the field went back racing, Byron maintained second before quickly reeling the leader in as the stage wound down before eventually taking the lead on lap 66. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native continued to lead until he came down pit road under green on lap 75 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Cycling back to the top spot, Byron maintained his lead until the yellow flag was displayed on lap 114, ending stage one under caution and securing the stage win and a playoff point. Needing help with rear turn, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
Dropping to fourth for the start of stage two, Byron took over third almost instantly and maintained that position until radioing to the No. 24 team that he may be having a mechanical issue. Remaining on track, Byron’s issue seemed to right itself, allowing him to maintain the fourth position before coming down pit road for a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 153. After receiving four tires and fuel, the 24-year-old-drive cycled back to fourth but radioed that his car continued to build tight. When the caution came out on lap 179, Byron brought his No. 24 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 down pit road to the attention of his team for four tires, fuel and both a chassis and air pressure adjustment. Going back green just past the halfway point of the race, Byron ran third for the majority of the rest of the second stage until the caution came out on lap 219. Coming down pit road for another four tire pit stop, a slight issue on the right front tire cost Byron a few positions, lining up eighth with seven laps left in the second stage. Byron was ultimately able to make his way back up to fifth by the time stage two ended. Byron came down pit road under the stage break for a four tire stop, but the No. 24 Valvoline team had an issue on the right front once again, costing him a few positions.
Lining up eighth for the start of the final segment, Byron marched his way back through traffic, reaching fifth before Fugle called his driver down pit road under green for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As green-flag pit stops continued to cycle through, an ill-timed caution on lap 275 derailed Byron’s efforts, trapping him one lap down in 12th. Able to take the wave around under the caution, Byron was able to get back on the lead lap but was forced to line up in 20th with confusion ensuing between cars taking the wave around and those choosing a restart lane. As the laps wound down, Byron did his best to make up track position reaching 10th before making his green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel. Cycling back to 12th in the closing laps, the yellow flag was displayed with 13 laps to go, allowing Byron to come back down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Restarting from seventh, Byron fell to ninth initially but fought to take over eighth, maintaining that position until the checkered flag.
Byron led the Hendrick Motorsports quartet to the finish line, scoring an eighth-place result in Sunday night’s race at Darlington Raceway.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON
“I feel great about leaving here eighth tonight. We’re second in points. Obviously I’m frustrated we didn’t win especially with how stage one went. I definitely thought we were going to be battling for the win but overall I’m really happy. We executed our race, it was just that caution that got us behind being caught a lap down. There’s nothing we could do about that but we fought back. I’m proud of my No.24 team.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: KANSAS SPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2022
TIME: 3:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: USA, SIRIUSXM, MRN