NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: September 8, 2019
Race #26: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile speedway/ 160 laps / 400 miles
Standings (from leader): 11th (-270)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Already solidifying his position in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, William Byron and the No. 24 team focused primarily on race trim for this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Qualifying 29th Sunday morning, Byron was still confident in the speed his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had and was able to march his way through the field to earn a fourth-place finish in the Brickyard 400 - his third top-five finish of the season.
Rolling off from the 29th position when the green flag dropped for the Brickyard 400, Byron began to methodically work through traffic during the opening laps, breaking into the top-20 within the first 10 laps. However, while trying to use the draft off the car in front of him, Byron got into the wall just a lap before the first caution of the day occurred. Able to come to pit road under yellow on Lap 12, a stack up of cars in front of Byron resulted in left rear fender damage to the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Restarting 38th due to a lengthy pit stop for repairs, the 21-year-old once again began to work his way through the field making it to 19th before the yellow would be displayed again on Lap 43. Crew chief Chad Knaus used the opportunity to bring Byron down pit road for four tires and fuel, lining him up 18th for the four-lap dash to the Stage One break. On the restart, Byron jumped within the top 15 before ultimately finding himself scored in the 12th position when the caution came out once again, forcing the stage to end under yellow conditions. After a brief red flag period for continued track cleanup, Knaus informed Byron that the No. 24 team would not pit under the stage break.
Starting Stage Two from the eighth position after varying pit strategy played out during the break, Byron continued to maintain his top-10 position despite fighting a Liberty University Chevrolet that was getting progressively looser over the run. With 25 laps remaining in the stage, green flag pit stops began to take place. The sophomore driver cycled to take over the lead on Lap 87 before coming to pit road under green as well for four tires and fuel. Before green flag pit stops could fully cycle through, the caution came out, leaving nine laps remaining in Stage Two. Electing not to come back down pit road, Byron restarted seventh but after being shuffled back to ninth, the caution flag flew again and would also signal the end of the stage.
Once again choosing not to pit, Byron lined up eighth for the start of the final stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After a couple quick cautions slowed the pace, the driver of the No. 24 was able to work his way back within the top five, with just over 30 laps remaining in the 160-lap event. Coming to pit road under yellow on Lap 130, Knaus made the call for four tires, fuel and minor adjustments to a Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that had now swung to the tight side. Restarting seventh, Byron was able to pick up one position before the yellow flag came out for the final time on Lap 148. Lining up sixth for what would be the final restart of the race, Byron used the last nine laps to maneuver his way up to the fourth position by the time the checkered flag flew, scoring his third top-five finish of the 2019 season.
Byron led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the line at the conclusion of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott also scored a top-10 finish, crossing over the yard of bricks in the ninth position. Both having late-race incidents, Alex Bowman finished 21st and Jimmie Johnson was relegated to a 35th-place finish.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“I don’t know what happened on pit road at the beginning of the race, but other than that, it was a good day. I think it is a result of so many lead lap cars coming down pit road at the same time, and there is really only one lane to turn into your pit box. We are used to three lanes to come down pit road and turn into our pit box, but here we only have two. It makes it tough.
“With Jimmie (Johnson) and I it was a racing thing. I really didn’t have anywhere to go. Once Kurt (Busch) slipped by and we were three-wide, I was trying to give him enough room and not slide into Jimmie but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough room.”