NO. 24 HENDRICKCARS.COM CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: October 4, 2020
Race #31: Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile oval / 200 laps / 532 miles
Driver Point Standings (behind the leader): 14th (-1028)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Lining up 21st for Sunday afternoon’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, William Byron kept his No. 24 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE clean for the duration of the race, putting himself in contention for the win in the closing laps. Trying to make a pass for the win after the third attempt at NASCAR Overtime, Byron came up just short of his second career NASCAR Cup Series win when his momentum was slowed, scoring a track-best fourth-place finish at the 2.66-mile track.
Starting in the 21st position, Byron opted to play it safe for the initial portion of Stage One running at the rear of the field until the competition caution on lap 25. Scored 20th at the time of the yellow, the 22-year-old driver reported that his No. 24 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was a bit on the free side and came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Still wanting to remain patient, Byron restarted 17th and remained at the tail-end of the field, ultimately missing a large wreck with three laps to go in Stage One. With the stage ending under yellow, Byron was scored in the 13th position before coming down pit road for four tires and fuel at the stage break.
With a fast pit stop by the HendrickCars.com team, Byron lined up seventh for the start of Stage Two. Just two laps later, the caution was displayed once again allowing crew chief Chad Knaus to call his driver down pit road to top off on fuel. Restarting 14th, Byron continued to run in the high lane working with Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott. Still short on fuel to the end of the stage, Byron and a majority of his Chevy teammates came down pit road under green on lap 84 for a fuel-only stop. As they were returning to the track, the caution flag came out, allowing those who just pit to cycle to the front of the lineup. Lining up second with 30 laps to go in the second stage, Byron worked with leader Elliott to race nose-to-tail for the ensuing run ultimately avoiding a big wreck on lap 109. Once again restarting second, this time with seven laps remaining in the stage, Byron was shuffled back a couple rows, crossing the line in the sixth position for Stage Two. Still fighting a slightly loose HendrickCars.com Chevy, Byron came down pit road to the attention of his team for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Positioned ninth for the start of the final stage, Byron initially dropped to the rear of the pack due to the high aggression level but ultimately maneuvered his way back up to second-place by the time the caution came out on lap 147. Under the caution, Knaus made the call for the Charlotte, North Carolina, native to pit for two right side tires and fuel. Lining up fourth for the restart with 37 laps to go, Byron quickly moved his way to the lead before ultimately dropping back in the field to try save fuel to make it to the end. Trying to keep momentum in the low lane, Byron battled to save fuel while staying in contention with the leaders until given the “green light” to go all out with 12 laps remaining. As intensity picked up as the laps wound down, Byron avoided an on-track incident with five laps to go, scoring him in the eighth position for the first attempt in NASCAR Overtime. Making an aggressive move coming to the white flag, Byron found himself in second as the yellow flag was displayed once again. With the caution coming out before the field took the white flag, the field went into a second overtime attempt. However, already close on fuel, Knaus made the call for Byron to come down pit road before the field went back green for four tires and fuel. Restarting 15th, Byron once again maneuvered his way through a wreck, scoring him seventh when the caution came out. With others close on fuel as well, Byron moved into the fifth position for the start of the third attempt of NASCAR Overtime. When the field went back green, Byron quickly raced his way into the third position by the time he took the white flag and had a great run to make a move for the lead on the exit of Turn 3. As Byron was making the pass for the win, the No. 21 came down the track, making contact with the No. 24 and forcing him below the yellow line. Losing his momentum, Byron tried to battle his way back to the lead coming to the finish line, but just didn’t have enough help, scoring a fourth-place finish – a track-best for Byron at Talladega Superspeedway.
Byron led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the checkered flag with his fourth-place finish with Elliott close behind in fifth. Alex Bowman scored a top-15, crossing the finish line in 15th after being involved in an earlier incident and Jimmie Johnson was scored 29th after an earlier on-track incident as well.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
“It’s tough not to get the win today but to finish fourth is good. It’s just unfortunate. We had a really good run there on the final lap and I got a good push from the 11 in (Turns) one and two that set that up. I was able to get to the 17 and push him and then found some daylight on the bottom to have a run at the 21. Unfortunately, he blocked us there and put us below the yellow line. Fortunately, though we were able to save it and still finish in the top five. Today was a good run for us. We really needed to finish a race after the last couple weeks and it’s good to have a result like today.”