NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: June 28, 2020
Race #15: Pocono Raceway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile triangle speedway / 140 laps / 350 miles
Start: 7th (to the rear)
Standings (from leader): 15th (-209)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Despite being credited with a seventh-place starting position for the final race of the doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway, William Byron had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change made in between Saturday’s and Sunday’s races. With weather playing a factor once again at the start, causing a short delay, the No. 24 Axalta team utilized pit strategy to be able to make up crucial track position throughout the race. With a long green-flag run to the end of the 140-lap event, Byron raced his way to the seventh position, making a last-lap pass to pick up two extra spots – scoring his best finish so far in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Forced to give up track position before the race went green due to an engine change from the previous race, Byron started from the tail end of the field when the race finally went green after a weather hold for lightning. Making up as much ground as possible early on, the third-year driver raced his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE up to the 19th position when the yellow flag came out for rain on Lap 5. After a brief delay for rain, the field went back green with Byron restarting 19th. With 22 laps until the first stage break, Byron broke into the top 15 and ultimately finished Stage One in the 14th position.
With track position a critical factor, crew chief Chad Knaus elected for Byron to remain on track under the stage break, lining him up seventh for the start of the second stage. However, on the restart Byron reported that his car wouldn’t turn going into the first corner, dropping him back to the 11th position as the caution was displayed again just one lap later. Changing their pit strategy, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native came down pit road under the yellow for four tires and fuel before rejoining the field in 30th for the restart. Once the field went back green, Byron once again began his march through the field, reaching the 12th position with 10 laps remaining in the stage as the caution flag was once again displayed. Liking the handling of his Axalta Chevy, Byron came down pit road for four tires and fuel. However, with two consecutive restarts setting up a two-lap dash to the stage end, Byron received the green-checkered-flag in the 19th position.
Once again looking to make up track position, Byron did not pit under the stage break, moving up to the 15th position for the final stage. As a long-green flag run ensued, different pit strategies began to take place throughout the field, especially with sunset also playing a factor on the race would end. Wanting to maximize the opportunity for track position, Knaus made the call for Byron to stay out as long as possible before coming down pit road. Hitting the 20 laps to go mark and the race continuing to go green, Knaus called the Axalta Chevy down pit road for fuel and two right side tires. Rejoining the field in the 15th position, Byron turned his sights on marching back through the field. As the laps continued to wind down, Byron made a last-lap pass to finish seventh at the second race of the Pocono doubleheader. His seventh-place finish is his best result of the season so far, and his fifth top-10 finish in 15 races.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“We ended up with a top-10 finish today which was good. It was definitely an improvement from yesterday – seven spots better to be exact – which is good. We still struggled a good portion of the race but I think we made the right calls and adjustments at the end. We had a lot of speed actually the last couple runs. I think the track kind of came to us and ultimately that’s what we needed. So we’ll go on to Indy and hopefully have a better run there.”