NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: June 22, 2020
Race #13: Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile superspeedway / 191 laps / 508.06 miles
Start: 19th (to the rear)
Standings (from leader): 14th (-171)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
With rain postponing the NASCAR Cup Series race from Talladega Superspeedway to Monday afternoon, William Byron had to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the 500-lap event due to technical inspection issues. With weather still playing a factor on Monday, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native powered his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to the front of the field multiple times through the event, before collecting another track-best finish of 11th at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Having to start tail-end of the field when the NASCAR Cup Series finally took the green flag on Monday afternoon after weather postponed the event, Byron wasted little time making his way to the front of the pack. Running within the top 10 after only five laps, the third-year driver maintained a running position within the top 10 to top 15 as the field ran three-wide until the competition caution on Lap 25. Fighting a tight Axalta Chevy, Byron came down pit road under the caution for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, picking up five positions on pit road in the process. Restarting 12th just past halfway in Stage One, intensity picked up within the field as rain loomed nearby. Making his way to the lead on Lap 40, Byron did his best to maintain the top spot, but got shuffled out of contention. Trying to work his way back to the front of the field, Byron made it to the 10th position just as the caution came out for rain with three laps remaining in the first stage. As the rain worsened, the red flag was displayed, delaying the race further. Once the rain stopped and the track was dried, the red flag was lifted and the remainder of the stage was run under yellow. Still fighting the handling of his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron came down pit road for four tires, fuel and both an air pressure and chassis adjustment.
Picking up another position on pit road, Byron lined up ninth for the start of Stage Two. With weather still potentially threatening, intensity was still high throughout the field. Continuing to race three-wide, Byron shifted between the bottom lane and the middle, trying to maintain his momentum. When the caution came out on Lap 95, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for Byron to pit for two right side tires, fuel and for the Axalta team to add tape to the nose of the No. 24. Restarting ninth with 22 laps to go in the stage, Byron maintained his top-10 running position as the field continued to race three-wide. With the yellow flag once again being displayed, this time with five laps remaining until the stage break, Byron did not pit, lining up eighth for the two-lap dash to the stage end. Jumping out to lead the outside lane, Byron momentarily took over the top spot, but lost momentum coming to the stripe, finishing the stage in the 10th position. Liking the handling of his Axalta Chevy, the 22-year-old driver came down pit road for four tires and fuel before rejoining the field for the final stage.
With varying pit strategy taking place, Byron found himself 20th for the final leg of Monday’s race. Maneuvering his way through traffic, Byron narrowly escaped being collected in an on-track incident with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott on Lap 134. With the yellow flag displayed, Byron came down pit road for four tires and fuel before lining up 23rd for the restart. However, with the caution coming out just three laps later, Knaus called the No. 24 back down pit road for fuel only and then again to top off when the field got the one to go signal. Lining up 15th with just over 40 laps to go, Byron utilized the high line to make his way to the front of the field, ultimately taking over the lead on Lap 151. Byron maintained the top spot for 10 laps until an ill-timed push from behind got the No. 24 too loose, forcing Byron to lose momentum and shuffled to the middle lane with no help. Finally able to fall back in line just outside the top 15, Byron searched for drafting help but was unsuccessful due to the majority of competitors trying to save fuel to make it to the end of the race. As the laps wound down, the caution flag was displayed with three laps remaining, allowing Byron and some of the other leaders to come down pit road. Electing to take two right side tires and a splash of fuel to make it to the end, Byron lined up 20th for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. With some cars running out of fuel coming to the green, Byron did his best to make up ground, as well as avoiding two wrecks happening in front of him coming to the checkered flag. When all was said and done, Byron crossed the finish line in the 11th position, collecting a track-best finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“Well we finished 11th today. We had a shot there at the win with about 29 laps to go and just got a push from Logano in the corner. I don’t know why it got loose there but it did. We lost our track position and then really just fought to get back from there and tried to save fuel at the same time. We pitted with two to go to get some extra fuel and we made a pretty good charge to the front there in the third lane. We had a good number of cars to the inside but ultimately finished 11th. It would have been nice to finish top 10 but we did finish a superspeedway race in one piece which is nice. I thought we had some great speed at times and great opportunities to lead the race. We just have to build on that and continue to get better. I feel like these races are always unpredictable but at the same time there is skill involved. We did a decent job of controlling the skill part we just have to keep working.”