- William Byron qualified third for Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway after participating in the new condensed practice and qualifying sessions for the 2022 season.
- Running within the top-five early on, Byron went on to score the Stage One win. Still continuing to run up front, Byron racked up more stage points with his fourth-place result at the conclusion of Stage Two.
- Unfortunately, the handling of Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy swung in the opposite direction toward the loose side late in the race, resulting in an 18th-place finish.
- With his stage win and solid run during Sunday’s race, Byron moved up to 15th in the driver point standings, now only 38 points behind the leader.
RECAPPING THE RACE
Posting some of the fastest average lap times in practice Saturday, William Byron continued to show speed, qualifying third for Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway. When the 312-lap event started, Byron maintained his running position within the top-five, scored third when the competition caution came out on lap 25. Fighting an Axalta Chevy that was tight when he fired off, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Restarting fourth when the field went back green, Byron raced his way to the second position by the time the caution came out on lap 47. Crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for his driver to remain on track, allowing Byron to restart on the inside of the front row. With a nine-lap dash to the end of Stage One, Byron quickly took over the lead when the field went back racing, ultimately going on to score the stage win – his first of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and his first at Phoenix Raceway. Still fighting a tight No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron came down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
With varying pit strategy taking place, Byron lined up in the seventh position for the start of Stage Two. The 24-year-old driver began working his way back through traffic as a long green-flag run ensued, reaching third by the time the caution came out on lap 120. Byron radioed to the team that he had smoke in the cockpit of the car, but it wasn’t getting worse as the run had gone on. He came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before restarting fourth with 60 laps to go in Stage Two. Byron continued to maintain his top-five running position as the laps wound down in the stage, picking up more stage points with his fourth-place result. Still too tight on the short run, Byron came down pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Electing to restart in the fifth position for the final stage, Byron got shuffled backwards when the field went four-wide, relinquishing him back to the ninth spot before the caution came out on lap 220. Needing help with his turning, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before lining up fifth for the ensuing restart. As the final stage continued on, Byron’s No. 24 Axalta Chevy swung to the extremely loose side of the spectrum, forcing Byron to try hold on as best he could before the caution came out on lap 285. Fugle made the call under the yellow for Byron to pit for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment. Restarting 15th, Byron once again began working his way through traffic making it to 12th just before the final yellow of the race came. Not pitting under that caution, Byron lined up 12th for the final three laps of the event but got shuffled out of contention by those around him going four-wide, leaving him with an 18th-place finish.
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2022
TIME: 3:00 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: FOX, SIRIUSXM, PRN