NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: August 11, 2019
Race #23: Michigan International Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile speedway/ 200 laps / 400 miles
Standings (from leader): 12th (-250)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Running at Michigan International Speedway for the second time during the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron had a solid weekend from start to finish, qualifying third and finishing eighth, both track-best stats for the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
When the field went green for the 200-lap race Sunday afternoon, Byron spent the initial laps running just outside the top five, in sixth place, fighting a Liberty University Chevy that was too loose for him to make any forward progress. Maintaining his position as the stage continued, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for Byron to come to pit road under green on Lap 45 for two right side tires and fuel to get him to the end of the first stage. As green-flag pit stops cycled through, Byron was scored fifth for the remaining 10 laps of Stage One and reported that this was the best his No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 had felt all weekend. Crossing the stripe in the fifth position at the end of Stage One, Byron was able to pick up valuable stage points to help in his playoff hunt. Still happy with the handling of his Chevy, Knaus made the call for two tires again, this time left sides, and to top off on fuel under the stage break.
Restarting fourth for the start of the second stage, Byron struggled to maintain momentum, falling just out the top 10. Reporting that the handling of his No. 24 had swung to the extremely loose side, Byron worked to maintain his position and as the run ensued, the balance on the Liberty University Chevy started to come back to the neutral side. As pit strategy began to play out, Byron found himself running fifth with 10 laps remaining in Stage Two before Knaus made the call for the Charlotte, North Carolina native, to return to pit road under green, this time for four tires, fuel and minor adjustments. While green-flag pit stops were continuing to cycle through, the caution flag was displayed scoring Byron in the 14th position. With some cars electing to pit, Byron remained on track, restarting 10th for a one-lap dash to the stage break. Picking up two more positions, Byron collected more stage points with his eighth-place finish in Stage Two. Continuing to utilize pit strategy, Knaus elected to keep the No. 24 on track lining Byron up in the outside lane in fourth for the start of the final stage.
Two cautions early in the run slowed the pace and re-racked the field for restarts but Byron continued to maintain his top five position. However, electing not to pit until the final caution on Lap 150, Byron hit pit road for two right side tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race. Restarting 11th for the final 48 laps, the handling on the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 swung to the extreme loose side once again, halting Byron’s forward progress through traffic. However, as the green flag run ensued, Byron’s handling began to stabilize in the closing laps. With others worried about potentially running out of fuel, Byron worked to pick up a couple additional positions before beginning to save fuel himself to avoid having to pit another time. Byron made it across the finish line just as he was running out of fuel, scoring a track-best eighth-place finish in the process, and his eighth top-10 finish of the season.
Byron led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag with his eighth-place finish, followed by Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman closely behind in ninth and tenth respectively. Unfortunately, Jimmie Johnson was caught in an earlier on-track incident, relegating him to a 34th-palce finish at the two-mile speedway.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“Honestly, I thought we tried a little different approach today and our car was just really hard to handle. We struggled in traffic a lot. But, to come out with a top 10 is good. I feel like we ran in and around there all race for the most part. We just struggled on restarts but not bad overall. I think we made up a lot of points. We just kind of needed a couple of different things to play a little bit differently for us to have a better finish.”