RECAPPING THE RACE
Heading into the final race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron qualified eighth at Phoenix Raceway in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. When the green flag flew for the 312-lap event, Byron quickly took over the seventh position and continued to maintain that position throughout the green-flag run. Liking the handling of his race car, Byron continued to maintain his position until the end of stage one, scoring stage points in the process. Under the stage break, crew chief Rudy Fugle called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment with the Axalta team picking up three positions in the process.
For the start of stage two, Byron elected to take the high lane, lining up in fourth. The 24-year-old maintained his position until the caution came out on lap 84. Under the caution, Byron reported that his No. 24 Axalta Chevy was a little snug as he came down pit road for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately a slight issue on the left rear cost the No. 24 a couple positions before the restart. Lining up ninth on lap 90, Byron continued to fight within the top-10 running order during another long green-flag run. Making a pit strategy call to gain track position, Fugle called his driver down pit road under green on lap 145 for four tires and fuel. Returning to the track in 28th, one lap down, Byron went to work using his fresh tires to make up ground. As the stage continued to go green, Byron not only passed the leader to return to the lead lap but continued to pass cars, reaching the top 10 with six laps left in the stage. Continuing his run to the front, Byron reached the seventh position at the end of stage two, once again collecting stage points in the process. Under the stage break, Fugle called the driver of the No. 24 down pit road for four tires and fuel, with the Axalta team picking up three positions once again.
Electing to take the high lane, Byron restarted in fourth but quickly made the move to take over third-place. With the No. 24 Axalta Chevy swinging to the tight side though during the run, Byron slid back to fourth with 100 laps to go. Continuing to run fourth, Fugle called the No. 24 down pit road under green for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Once green-flag pit stops cycled through, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native was scored seventh with 57 laps remaining. However as the run continued, Byron picked up one more position, moving himself up to sixth as the laps wound down. With the caution coming out on lap 267, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Restarting fifth with 33 laps to go, Byron battled as hard as he could to take over the position in front of him, but unfortunately got passed in the process. Continuing to fight in the closing laps, Byron crossed the finish line in sixth – ending the 2022 season sixth in the driver point standings.