Rolling off from the 23rd position for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500, William Byron used the opening laps of race to get a feel for the draft with the new Next Gen car. Once he felt comfortable in his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron began his march to the front of the field. Halfway through Stage One, Byron found himself running inside the top 10 as teams began to prepare for green-flag pit stops. On Lap 38, crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver down pit road for two right side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As pit stops were cycling through, the caution came out on Lap 39, scoring Byron in the seventh position. Electing not to pit, Byron restarted seventh but was able to make his way up to just inside the top-five running order, in fourth, before the yellow flag was displayed once again. Reporting that his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a touch free the last run, Byron was still happy overall with his car as the field went back green with eight laps to go in the opening stage. Byron rocketed to the lead on Lap 58 but was shuffled back to third with five laps left. Unfortunately, on Lap 62 Byron was collected in an unavoidable on-track incident that ended his day, relinquishing him to a 38th-place finish.
“It looked like the bottom lane was pushing well; nice, balanced and controlled. The outside lane was getting a little squirrely the last lap or so. I noticed that, but there’s nothing you can really do. You’re just trying to push your guy out front. It was (Martin) Truex Jr. in front of me and Kyle Busch. We were doing a good job of kind of managing that gap on the bottom. I think the No. 21 (Harrison Burton) just got loose, slid down the track and I slid to the inside wall. There was nothing we could really do. I think we were definitely going to finish in the top-five in that Stage. Our No. 24 Axalta Camaro seemed really fast. It’s disappointing, but we’ll go onto California (Auto Club Speedway) and we’ll be fast there.”