NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
Date: July 19, 2020
Race #18: Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile speedway / 334 laps / 501 miles
Playoff Standings (from the Playoff cutoff): 17th (-2)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Rolling off from the 18th position at Texas Motor Speedway, William Byron piloted his way to inside the top-five during Stage One. However, with pit strategy varying throughout the field, Byron was running in the top-15 after a four tire pit stop during Stage Two but was making up track position in the final stage before being collected in an on-track incident. Sustaining heavy right-side damage, Byron’s race ended early with a 37th-place finish.
Starting 18th Sunday afternoon, Byron quickly began picking up positions, making it to the 12th position by the time that the competition caution came out on Lap 20. With track position a premium at the “No Limits” track, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call for left side tires and fuel for the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. With varying pit strategy playing out, Byron lined up in fifth for the restart but moved into the third position by the time that green-flag pit stops began later in Stage One. Coming down pit road under green on Lap 87 for right side tires and fuel, Byron cycled out to the fifth position and maintained that spot until the green-checkered flag waved to signal the end of Stage One. Wanting to maintain track position, Knaus called Byron down pit road under the stage break for left tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment for an Axalta Chevy that was tight in Turns 1 and 2.
Lining up ninth for the start of Stage Two, a bit of contact slowed Byron’s momentum dropping him back to the 12th position. Fighting a now loose No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Byron maintained his top-15 running position until he was called down pit road under green on Lap 159 for four tires and fuel. When green-flag pit stops finally cycled through, Byron found himself running 16th with 20 laps to go in Stage Two. With the handling of the Axalta Chevy back on the tight side, the 22-year-old maintained the 16th spot until the stage break. Coming down pit road under the caution, Byron received four tires, fuel and major chassis adjustments to aid in his car’s handling.
Restarting in the 19th position after the lengthy pit stop, the yellow was displayed almost immediately after the green for an on-track incident. Byron had it cleared, but got tagged from behind, sending him around. Sustaining minimal damage, Byron made multiple pit stops under the caution for the Axalta team to make repairs and give him four fresh tires. Scored 18th but having to start at the rear of the field due to pitting too early, Byron went to work maneuvering through traffic, making it back inside the top-15, running 13th when the caution was displayed again, this time on Lap 243. Still fighting the handling of his Axalta Chevy, Knaus called the driver of the No. 24 down pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of chassis adjustments. Restarting 14th, Byron was collected in an on-track incident just two laps later, sustaining right side damage that ended his race early.
Chase Elliott was the highest finishing Hendrick Motorsports car, crossing the stripe in the 12th position. Jimmie Johnson finished Sunday’s race in 26th after suffering damage early on in the event. Alex Bowman was scored with a 30th-place finish and Byron in 37th after both were collected in on-track incidents.
QUOTING WILLIAM BYRON:
YOU STARTED THE DAY 15TH OUT OF 16 DRIVERS TRYING TO MAKE IT INTO THE PLAYOFFS. NOW, HOW TOUGH WILL THESE NEXT EIGHT RACES BE WILLIAM?
“Honestly, it’s going to be tough. We just have to find speed first. We’re not really running good at all and we’ve got to figure that out. Obviously, the 13 (Ty Dillon) got up into us there and took us out, but we were pretty far back anyway. Thanks to Axalta and everybody on the team. We’ve just got to figure it out and figure it out quick before the fall.”