NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: Feb. 15, 2021
Race 1: Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile oval / 200 laps / 500 miles
Start: 2nd (to the rear)
Points (behind leader): 26th (-47)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Qualifying on the outside of the front row for the DAYTONA 500, William Byron unfortunately had to give up his starting position and drop to the rear of the field before the start of the race due to needing to go to a backup car after Thursday night’s Duel races. Showing speed early on, Byron unfortunately got caught up in someone else’s on-track incident on Lap 15 but was able to salvage a 26th-place finish after 200 laps.
Dropping to the rear of the field before the green flag waved due to swapping to a backup car for Sunday’s race, Byron used the opening laps to assess the intensity throughout the field. With the caution coming out on Lap 4, the 23-year-old driver had made his way up to the 23rd position and was overall happy with the handling of his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. Utilizing pit strategy, crew chief Rudy Fugle called Byron down pit road under the yellow to top off on fuel. Restarting 25th, Byron searched for drafting to help to start making his way to the front of the field. Running three-wide on Lap 15, Byron tried to avoid an on-track incident in front of him, and almost cleared it, but was caught up in it at the very end. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native made it back to pit road just as the race was red flagged for lightning and rain. During the extensive red flag, the No. 24 Axalta team was able to put together a game plan for when they were able to work on the car again.
Once the yellow flag was displayed, Byron immediately pulled into his pit stall to allow his team to get to work making repairs. Utilizing most of their six-minute “crash clock,” Byron rejoined the field scored in the 27th position, three laps down. Going back green on Lap 29, the driver of the No. 24 was able to make minimum speed and continued to maintain pace with the field until NASCAR called him to pit road for further damage repairs on Lap 37 under green. However, while Byron was on pit road, the caution flag was displayed allowing the team extra time to fix the damage. With 21 laps remaining in the stage, Byron was now scored 29th, seven laps behind the leaders and ultimately picked up one position, finishing Stage One in 28th.
Needing to make further repairs to the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Fugle elected to have Byron pit twice under the yellow. Lining up 28th for the restart, the Hendrick Motorsports driver moved up to the 27th position by the halfway point in the race, before coming down pit road eight laps later for fuel only with the rest of his Chevy teammates. Picking up one more position by the time the green-checkered flag waved, Byron was scored 26th before coming down pit road for a right-side tire pit stop and to top off on fuel.
Going back green with 64 laps remaining in the DAYTONA 500, the field strung out and William ran single file around the high lane until the caution was displayed one final time on the white flag lap. However, with the on-track incident occurring after the field had taken the white flag, the race was deemed official at that moment, leaving Byron with a 26th-place finish in the DAYTONA 500.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“It was a long day but I’m proud of my guys for being able to fix the car as well as they did so we could finish the race. Those spots we picked up were important. It would have been nice to pick up a few more, but that’s just how things go. We’ll regroup and focus on next week’s race at the road course.”