NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: March 24, 2019
Race #6: Martinsville Speedway
Track Specs: 0.526-paved oval / 500 laps / 263 miles
Standings (from leader): 21st (-154)
RECAPPING THE RACE: Trying to fight through adversity the entire weekend at Martinsville Speedway, William Byron started Sunday’s race from the 34th position before he ultimately crossed the finish line 22nd in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Byron started off the weekend with limited track time Saturday due to damage repair from a cut tire in the opening laps of the first practice session. The No. 24 team worked to get Byron on track for final practice and qualifying later Saturday afternoon. However, having issues in pre-race technical inspection Sunday morning, Byron started the 500-lap event from the 34th position. Trying to make up as much ground as possible early on, Byron raced his way up to 27th, but lost a lap to the leaders just before the first caution of the race came out on Lap 66. Relaying to crew chief Chad Knaus that his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaor ZL1 was way too loose, Byron came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a round of adjustments before lining up 31st for the restart. With the rest of the stage going green, Byron was able to make his way to the 28th position but was still fighting an ill-handling Axalta Chevy. Coming to pit road for four tires, fuel and more adjustments, problems with the jack slowed the No. 24 team’s stop, forcing Byron to line up 28th for the start of Stage Two.
Just six laps into Stage Two, the caution flag was displayed and Byron was able to get his lap back after racing to the beneficiary position at the time that the yellow flag was displayed. Returning to pit road for another four tire stop, Byron restarted at the rear of the field but fought his way up to the 19th position by Lap 176. With the remainder of Stage Two run under green, Byron fought a still-loose Axalta Chevrolet while trying to remain on the lead lap. The leaders ultimately put him one lap down again with just over 20 laps left before the stage end and he remained one lap down when the caution came out on Lap 262 to signal the end of Stage Two. With another routine four tire stop, Knaus called for changes to the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to try aid in a still loose race car.
Lining up 21st when the green flag dropped for the start of the final stage, Byron maintained his position, the first car one lap down before getting tagged from behind and spinning coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 312. Coming to the attention of his Axalta Racing team to assess any possible damage, the No. 24 team gave Byron the all-clear along with four tires and fuel. Restarting 24th, two laps down to the leaders, Byron maintained his position, despite still fighting an ill-handling Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, until the caution came out with 54 laps remaining. Knaus made the call to take the ‘wave around’ under the caution allowing Byron to be one of only two cars just one lap down when the field went back green on Lap 455. Hoping for a caution in the closing laps to get back on the lead lap and try make up some more ground, luck didn’t fall his way but Byron was able to still cross the finish line in the 22nd position.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott almost pulled out the victory at Martinsville Speedway but ultimately came up just short, finishing second. Alex Bowman went on to finish 14th, followed by Byron in 22nd and Jimmie Johnson in 24th.