Originally lining up in third for Sunday’s race, William Byron was forced to start at the tail end of the field due to inspection issues at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Looking to make up track position as soon as possible, Byron rocketed his way back to the through the field, reaching the ninth position by the time the competition caution came out on lap 25. Fighting a No.24 Axalta/Service King Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE that was a little tight on the exit of the corners, crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment during the yellow. Restarting from the 10th position, Byron once again continued to work his way through traffic, making it to the fifth position by the end of Stage One. Needing a little bit more lateral grip, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment.
Going green for the start of Stage Two, Byron lined up sixth but wasted no time taking over the top spot on lap 92 just before the caution came out a couple laps later. Looking to maintain track position, Fugle elected to keep the No. 24 on track, going into the restart as the leader. Unfortunately, Byron didn’t have help on the restart and dropped back to third before regaining one of his two lost positions. With some competitors pitting under the previous yellow, Fugle made the call under green to pit for right sides tires and fuel to make it to the end of the stage. Unfortunately, suffering an issue on the right front during the pit stop, Byron rejoined the field one lap down. The 23-year-old driver regrouped though and utilized the remaining laps in Stage Two to put himself in the free pass position at the stage break in 18th. Coming back down pit road, this time under the yellow, Byron got four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before lining up 18th for the start of the final leg of the race.
When the final stage was underway, Byron once again went back to work, racing his way through traffic back to the front of the field. With under 70 laps to go, Byron had once again reached the top-five running order but asked for the No. 24 Axalta/Service King Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to be freed up a little bit to set him up for the final sprint to the finish. On lap 213, Fugle called the Axalta Chevy down pit road for four tires, fuel and both a chassis and air pressure adjustment. Just as green-flag pit stops had fully cycled through, Byron radioed to his team that he had a right rear tire going flat, forcing him to come back down pit road under green, but this time for just right side tires with 42 laps remaining. Once again trying to make up track position, Byron was scored one lap down in 22nd but used the closing laps to cross the finish line in the 18th position.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON
WILLIAM BYRON AND HIS NO. 24 TEAM HAD JUST A BIT OF BAD LUCK THERE WITH THE CUT TIRE THERE AT THE END. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR RACE TO THAT POINT?
“I thought we were really fast. We came from the back to the front, took the lead and then obviously had that caution. I chose the wrong lane there and had to run second there for awhile to Kyle. And then we had the strategy deal with not being able to make it on fuel and had to recover from that. We had to take two tires and that hurt us. We were able to drive all the way back to the front from the back again, so that was twice today. And then we had the flat tire.”
“We had an awesome car. The No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet was amazing. I think it was right there with the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin). We’ll just have to keep bringing that speed.”
THE GUYS IN THE BOOTH SAID GOING TO TALLADEGA, THEY WOULD RATHER BE WAY AHEAD OR WAY BEHIND. THEY WOULDN’T WANT TO BE IN THERE IN THAT MIDDLE GROUND. UNFORTUANTLEY, THAT’S WHERE YOU FIND YOURSELF. JUST FOUR POINTS BELOW THE CUTLINE. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MENTALITY WILL BE AS YOU HEAD TO THAT SUPERSPEEDWAY?
“Just be aggressive. I was aggressive all day today and passed a ton of cars. Just be as aggressive as I’ve been on the speedways in the past. We won a race on a superspeedway last year and I feel like we can do it again. The (Charlotte) ROVAL is a good track for us too, so we’ll see what happens.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2021
TIME: 2:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: NBC, SIRIUSXM, MRN