NO. 24 HENDRICK AUTOGUARD CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
Date: August 4, 2019
Race #22: Watkins Glen International
Track Specs: 2.54-mile road course/ 90 laps / 220.5 miles
Standings (from leader): 12th (-247)
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Qualifying on the front row for the eighth time during the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron started Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International from the second position. Running solidly within the top-five running order throughout Stage One, an incident under the stage break left Byron with major front-end damage. After extensive repairs throughout the race to the No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron was able to fight through the adversity to finish 21st.
Showing speed throughout the day Saturday at the 2.54-mile road course, Byron completed the Hendrick Motorsports front-row sweep during qualifying, lining up second next to teammate Chase Elliott when the green flag dropped Sunday afternoon. Running within the top-five throughout the first 20-lap stage, Byron was able to secure valuable stage points with his fifth-place finish in Stage One. However, contact with a competitor in the final green-flag laps, as well as under the stage break, left the No. 24 with extensive damage to the front nose of the Hendrick Autoguard Chevy. Coming to pit road under the caution for a lengthy stop, the No. 24 team was able to get Byron back on track and meet minimum speed for the start of Stage Two.
Restarting at the tail end of the field, Byron was able to work his way through traffic to the 28th position but reported that his No. 24 Hendrick Autoguard Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was overheating. Remaining on track and trying to manage the situation as best as possible, the caution came out on Lap 34 allowing Byron to come to pit road for more damage repair. Pitting multiple times under the yellow, including for four tires and fuel, Byron restarted at the tail end of the field for the final four laps in Stage Two. As the stage came to a close, the sophomore driver radioed to the Hendrick Autoguard team that his temps were continuing to rise forcing the No. 24 team to come up with another plan for further repairs. Coming to pit road multiple times again, Byron rejoined the field before going back green in the 36th position but still on the lead lap.
Only a few laps into the final stage, Byron reported that his temps were finally beginning to drop and that he liked the handling of his Chevy. With the laps winding down, Byron went to work making up track position as quickly as possible, knocking on the door of the top-20 running order just past the halfway mark in the 90-lap race. As pit strategy began to play out throughout the field, Byron worked his way as high as the sixth position before crew chief Chad Knaus called the 21-year-old down pit road under green on Lap 61 for fuel only. As pit stops were continuing to cycle through, the yellow flag was displayed shortly thereafter. At the time of the caution Byron was scored 18th but with varying strategies continuing to play out, Byron found himself 11th for the ensuing restart with 25 laps left. However, as the final run remained green, Byron’s older tires because a factor compared to those running around him. In the closing laps Byron was forced to relinquish a few positions due to the worn tires before ultimately crossing the finish line in the 21st position.
Elliott put on a dominating performance after starting from the pole, winning both stages before going on to capture back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen International. Teammate Alex Bowman crossed the finish line next in the 14th position, followed by Jimmie Johnson in 19th and Byron in 21st.