NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: October 6, 2019
Race #30: Dover International Speedways
Track Specs: 1-mile oval/ 400 laps / 400 miles
Standings (from leader): 8th (-63)
RECAPPING THE RACE: Showing speed in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during both of Friday’s practice sessions at Dover International Speedway, driver William Byron secured a sixth-place starting position during single-car qualifying on Saturday. While the sophomore driver ran within the top-five for the first half of the race, a late-race pit road penalty caught him a lap down, leaving Byron with a 13th-place finish but above the current playoff cutoff position.
Rolling off sixth Sunday, Byron quickly moved into the top-five within the opening laps, settling into fourth when the caution flag waved on Lap 9. The driver of the No. 24 stayed on track under the yellow to maintain track position, lining up fourth for the restart on Lap 13. Fighting a loose Axalta Chevy throughout the green-flag run, Byron experimented with his lane choice from lap to lap, eventually catching the cars in front of him and taking over the third position on Lap 68. With under 50 laps to go in Stage One, crew chief Chad Knaus called the 21-year-old to pit road under green for four tires, fuel and minor adjustments to help with a still “edgy” No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. As green-flag pit stops cycled through, Byron was scored fourth and maintained that position until the stage end on Lap 122. Coming to pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments for a still loose race car, Byron left pit road and lined up fifth for the start of the next stage.
Running within the top-five for the first half of Stage Two, Byron continued to fight a loose Axalta Chevy while trying to weave through lap-down traffic. Slipping back to sixth with 60 laps to go in the second stage, Knaus called the No. 24 to pit road under green with the leaders on Lap 186 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately though, Byron was issued a pit road speeding penalty as he was leaving pit road, forcing him to serve a pass-thru penalty under green and ultimately losing a lap. Fighting to put himself in a position to get his lap back should the caution come out, Byron raced up to 15th, the first car one lap down. Running as the first car one lap down as the end of Stage Two began to draw near, Byron lost the beneficiary opportunity when the leaders caught the tail end of the field and began to put more cars a lap down before the green-checkered flag waved. Coming to pit road under the stage break, Byron reported that the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was too tight in traffic and he would like to be loosened up due to where he would have to restart. After another four tire stop with minor adjustments by the Axalta team, Byron lined up 15th, the first car one lap down, with 150 laps to go.
The sophomore driver maintained his position as the first car one lap down throughout the long green-flag run that opened up the final stage and continued to maintain it as green-flag pit stops began to cycle through. Electing to stay on track and pit later than the leaders in hopes of catching a caution and be back on the lead lap, Knaus finally called Byron down pit road under green on Lap 324 for four tires and fuel. Rejoining the field still one lap down, Byron was able to make up two positions by the time green-flag pit stops finally cycled through. However, inside of 30 laps remaining, the leaders ultimately caught Byron and put him another lap down. With the race going green until the end, Byron finished the day at the “Monster Mile” in the 13th position, but had accumulated enough points to find himself eighth in the driver point standings, tied for the final position in this round of the playoffs.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman led the charge at Dover International Speedway with a third-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s race, followed by Jimmie Johnson in eighth. Byron rallied to a 13th-place finish after his mid-race issues while Chase Elliott unfortunately finished 38th after suffering mechanical issues early on.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We just couldn’t recover after the speeding penalty. We just had a miscalculation of when we could accelerate out of our pit box. I thought we were fine on pit road speed to leave the box hard. That was a bummer for sure. We had a pretty good car. We couldn’t really make many passes, but we were able to get from the back after having to start pretty close to the tail end. It just really hurt our day. But overall, the guys did a good job and we got out of here with a decent points day, I guess. We’ll just have to go on strong next week.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE A CAUTION WOULD HAVE HELPED?
“Yeah, I mean we ran behind the 42 in the first stage. I’m sure if we kept track position, I think we could have finished in the top five. We drove back up to tenth place, which was Clint Bowyer, and we couldn’t really do anything with that. We tried to stay out longer during green flag pit stops to try and catch a yellow, but we could just never get back to where we lost the lap.”