NO. 24 UNIFIRST CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: May 11, 2019
Race #12: Kansas Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 267 laps / 400.5 miles
Standings (from leader): 19th (-201)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Qualifying a track-best seventh at Kansas Speedway Friday night, William Byron went on to officially start Saturday night’s race from the third position in the No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 after pre-race technical inspection forced a handful of cars to start at the rear of the field. Losing a couple of positions on the initial start, Byron worked his way back to second-place by the time the competition caution came out on Lap 31. When Byron came to pit road, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for two tires, allowing the No. 24 to be the first car off pit road. Leading the field back to green on Lap 37, Byron got shuffled back within the top five, and ultimately settled into seventh place by the time the caution came back out on Lap 61. Relaying that his UniFirst Chevy was too tight on that last run, Knaus called for two right side tires again to maintain track position. However, as Byron went to pull out of his pit stall, the jack got stuck under the right side of the car and the UniFirst crew was not able to remove it before Byron got called for a pit road penalty of removing equipment from his pit stall. After receiving the penalty, Knaus made the call for Byron to return to pit road for left side tires, lining the No. 24 up at the tail end of the field in the 30th position for the restart. Fighting to gain track position back, Byron was able to race his way to 21st by the end of Stage One. Returning to pit road under the caution for four tires, fuel and adjustments to aid in a now loose-handling machine, the UniFirst crew was able to pick up six positions for Byron on pit road, putting him 15th for the start of Stage Two.
Settling into the 14th position as a long green-flag run ensued, Byron maintained that position until he came to pit road under green for his scheduled pit stop on Lap 123. Returning to the track after a routine four tire stop, Byron cycled back to the 11th running position with just over 10 laps left until the stage break. Fighting a still loose No. 24 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron was able to maintain that position when the green-checkered flag was displayed on Lap 162 signaling the end of Stage Two. Coming back down pit road, this time under caution, the UniFirst crew serviced Byron’s Chevy with four tires and fuel before sending him back on track.
Restarting 13th with 100 laps remaining at the 1.5-mile oval, Byron slipped back to 20th initially reporting that he thought he had sustained fender damage from contact with another car. Regaining his composure, Byron was able to snag two more positions, moving him up to 18th, before green-flag pit stops began cycling through again. Coming to pit road on Lap 214 for four tires and fuel, Byron reported that he needed adjustments to aid in a Chevy that was still just too loose for him to manage. However, before green-flag stops could fully cycle through, the caution came out with 50 laps to go catching Byron and the No. 24 UniFirst team two laps down in the 23rd position. Electing to take the wave around to get one of his laps back, Byron lined up 21st for the ensuing restart. Still fighting the handling of his UniFirst Chevy, Byron was running in the 23rd position when the caution came out on Lap 240 and then again on Lap 263, with Knaus calling the No. 24 down pit road both times for four tire pit stops. Restarting 22nd for the two-lap overtime shootout to the finish, Byron gained two more spots before ultimately crossing the finish line with a 20th-place finish.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman led the four-car contingent, crossing the finish line with his third consecutive second-place finish, followed by Chase Elliott in fourth and Jimmie Johnson in sixth place.