Rolling off from the front row in the second position for the first race of the doubleheader at Pocono Raceway, William Byron quickly took over the lead, pacing the field for 13 laps before fighting handling woes with the No. 24 Axalta Color of the Year Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. With varying pit strategy playing out during the duration of the 130-lap event, Byron raced his way to a third-place finish – his second top five and fifth top-10 result out of seven starts at the 2.5-mile track.
Starting from second, Byron slipped back to fourth on the initial start but quickly rebounded to take over the lead on Lap 5. With two cautions coming out back-to-back, crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for his driver to remain on track for both restarts. Fighting a snug No. 24 Axalta Color of the Year Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron held the lead until Lap 17 until slipping back to second by the end of Stage One. Under the stage break, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
With varying pit strategy taking place, Byron restarted 13th for the start of the second stage. Initially losing momentum from racing four-wide, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native settled in and began his march through the field. Making his way back inside the top 10 halfway through the stage, Byron reached the eighth position by the time the caution came out on Lap 54. Looking to regain track position, Fugle made the call for two right side tires and fuel for the No. 24 Chevy. Restarting third, Byron battled for position before losing momentum in the low lane, dropping to fifth. With a string of cautions to the end of the stage, Byron battled his way to cross the finish line in fourth, scoring stage points.
With different pit strategy once again playing out, Byron remained on track during the stage break, putting him second in the low lane for the start of the final stage. However, fighting a tight No. 24 Axalta Color of the Year Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron slipped back to fifth by the time green-flag pit stops began. On Lap 91, Fugle made the call for his driver to come down pit road under green for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. With pit strategy differing throughout the field, Byron reached the eighth position by the time the caution came out on Lap 109. Liking the handling of his Axalta Chevy, Byron did not pit, lining up eighth for the restart. With a power move when the field went back green, Byron maneuvered his way to the fourth position. The 23-year-old continued to maintain the fourth position until misfortune struck the No.5 on the last lap, allowing Byron to move into third – a track-best result for him.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman captured the win in the first of two races at Pocono Raceway this weekend. Byron was close behind in third-place. Kyle Larson suffered a last-lap tire failure but was able to cross the finish line in ninth with Chase Elliott finishing in 12th.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON
YOU GAINED THE MOST POINTS OF THE DAY. YOU SAID YOU WERE TOO TIGHT. WAS THAT ALL DAY OR AT THE END?
“The things we thought coming here, we wanted to be a little snug. So, we just kind of gained tight center off and it was hard to make the straightaways long with that, especially with the PJ1. It seems to make your car tighter. So, our Axalta Chevy was good, especially at the beginning; a little bit on the splitter. But we had the lead there and lost it. Just wasn’t quite able to pass the top two guys, I should say. So, it’s just part of it. Luckily, we get a chance to work on those things. It’s the first time for Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and I here. It was a good run for us. We finished third and we’ll try to go win tomorrow.”
THE NEXT RACE
TRACK: POCONO RACEWAY
DATE: SUNDAY, JUNE 27, 2021
TIME: 3:30 P.M. ET
TUNE-IN: NBCSN, SIRIUSXM, MRN RADIO