RECAPPING THE RACE
William Byron captured his first pole of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season after laying down the fastest lap in Saturday’s qualifying session. Leading the field to green in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron paced the field for the first 27 laps of the event until Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson got around him for the lead. Just two laps later the caution came out allowing Byron to come down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to aid in a tight handling race car. Winning the race off pit road, Byron restarted from the high lane and took the lead back until lap 38 when Larson got around him once again. The No. 24 remained on the tight side throughout the run, forcing Byron to slip back to third. As the run continued, Byron began to gain on the car in front of him, taking back the second position with five laps left in the opening stage. With the rest of the stage going green, Byron scored crucial stage points, crossing under the green-checkered flag in the second position. Needing to be loosened up some, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Restarting on the inside of the front row for the start of stage two, Byron battled hard with the No.5 to regain the top spot but ultimately conceded the position to save his tires as the second-place car was also able to get around him as well. As the run continued Byron radioed that his No. 24 Liberty University Chevy was on the loose side. Crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for his driver to come down pit road under green on lap 122 for four tires and fuel. Once green-flag pit stops fully cycled through, Byron was once again back in the third position. Trying to make up time on the two cars in front of him, Byron was running laps up against the wall before ultimately tagging it with 20 laps to go in the second stage. Able to keep going, Byron continued to keep pace before the caution came out on lap 160. With the stage coming to a close under yellow, Byron once again collected crucial stage points with his third-place effort to end stage two. Needing more rear grip, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Lining up fourth for the start of the final stage, Byron initially jumped up to the second position with his eyes on the lead. However, as the run continued, his No. 24 Liberty University Chevy swung to the extreme tight side dropping him back to 10th with 80 laps to go. Trying to hold on, Fugle called his driver down pit road under green on lap 206 for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Unfortunately, with the left front tire loose as he pulled away, Byron was forced to stop and back his car up into the pit stall so the pit crew could tighten the lug nut. Returning to the track as green-flag pit stops continued, the caution came out before pit stops could fully cycle through, trapping Byron one lap down in the 20th position. Able to take the wave around, Byron was back on the lead lap for the restart with 51 laps to go. Having to start close to the rear of the field, Byron worked his way through traffic to reach 17th by the time the caution came out again, this time on lap 244. Fighting a free No. 24 Chevy, Byron came down pit road for the final time for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Lining up 15th with 17 laps to go, Byron initially got trapped in the middle of three and four-wide racing on the restart. However, as the run continued and Byron was able to build momentum, he started working his way back to the front. Able to reach 14th with only eight laps remaining, Byron continued his fight in the closing laps. With a handful of laps left, Byron captured two more positions, finishing in the 12th spot at the conclusion of Sunday’s race. He’s now five points above the playoff cutline with one race remaining in the round.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON
You ended the race above the cutline. Talk about the end of the race, trying to gain spots after the last restart.
“We just had one bad run. We restarted second and kind of maintained in second for maybe a couple of laps, and then the car fell off and disappeared. That one run was just really weird, so we lost a lot of track position. And then we had the deal on pit road, but everybody kept focused and tried to get as many spots as we could.
“12th is how we netted out after all of that, but I’m proud of the effort of the No. 24 Liberty University Camaro ZL1 team. We have some things to work on for short runs to just get the balance right. Later in these races, it seems like that’s what it kind of comes down to more and we just struggled a little bit. Just have to work on that; but overall, really happy with the rebound and we’re in a decent spot, for sure.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2022
TIME: 2:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: NBC, SIRIUSXM, MRN