NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: October 27, 2019
Race #33: Martinsville Speedway
Track Specs: 0.526-mile paved oval/ 500 laps / 263 miles
Standings (from leader): 10th (-1876)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Rolling off from the 11th position Sunday afternoon, William Byron marched his way to the front of the field early on, and continued to maintain a top-five running position throughout the majority of the 500-lap race, inching closer to the lead with every lap. Lining up second in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for back-to-back late-race restarts, Byron ran within striking distance of the leader but ultimately crossed the finish line in the second position, tying his previous Cup career-best finish as well as securing a track-best finish at Martinsville Speedway.
Happy with his Liberty University Chevy after qualifying 11th on Saturday, Byron wasted no time when the green flag dropped to make his way to the front of the field. Despite fighting a loose handling machine, Byron was able to pit under the caution on Lap 29 for four tires and fuel before restarting eighth when the field went back green. Continuing to pick up positions as the rest of the stage went green, Byron was able to cross the finish line in the sixth position. Under the stage break, Byron returned to pit road, this time for four tires, fuel and a minor adjustment to try tighten up the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
As the field went back green for the start of Stage Two on Lap 140, the sophomore driver quickly jumped into the third position before ultimately taking over second just 30 laps later. Catching the leaders while racing through lap-down traffic, and untimely caution came out on Lap 179, stacking the field back up. Byron came to the attention of his Liberty University crew under the caution period for four tires, fuel and another slight adjustment to the No. 24. Restarting in the fourth position, Byron continued to maintain his position until the caution was displayed once again, this time on Lap 253, setting up a three-lap dash to the end of the stage. Restarting sixth with difference pit strategies playing out, Byron was able to hold onto that position until the green-white checkered flag waved to end the final stage break of the race.
Gaining one position under the caution for electing not to pit, the Charlotte, North Caroline native moved from the seventh position up to second in a handful of laps once he went back racing. Still fighting a loose handling race car, the No. 24 came down pit road on Lap 347 and was able to secure a low-lane starting position of third before the field went back green. Once again taking over the runner-up spot under green flag conditions, Byron was chasing down the leaders when the caution came out once again, this time with 137 laps remaining. Pitting for four tires and fuel on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on Laps 363 and then again on Lap 450, Byron was scored third but quickly took over second as soon as the green flag came out. Bunching the field back up for the end of the race, Byron had two more restart attempts to try take over the top spot as the yellow flag was displayed on Laps 460 and 473. Battling hard with the No. 19 despite restarting in the high lane, Byron unfortunately wasn’t able to get around him as the laps wound down before ultimately crossing the finish line in second, scoring his fifth Cup Series top-five finish of the year .
Byron led the Hendrick Motorsports four-car contingent at Martinsville with his runner-up finish. Teammate Alex Bowman sustained damage late in the race, crossing the finish line in the 30th position. Chase Elliott, who experienced a mechanical issue in Stage Two, finished the race in 36th while Jimmie Johnson was collected in an on-track incident that left with him with a 38th-place finish Sunday afternoon.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED TO GIVE MARTIN TRUEX JR. A BETTER RUN FOR HIS MONEY THERE AT THE END?
“Oh, I don’t know. He was really strong. I could work my brake bias a little bit in the car and gain a little bit and then I’d get to him and I’d heat them up a lot and kind of fall back. So, I don’t really know. He was super strong. Our car bounced a little bit on the short run, which was tough to kind of get around, but overall it was a really good day. This isn’t a place that I’ve loved coming to, and it just clicked this weekend. The things we did with the car going into qualifying and then obviously our race. So, I’m super excited, but second is not super fun either. So, we’ll try to get one spot better next time.”