TRIPLE DIGITS: When driver William Byron climbs behind the wheel of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway, it will mark his 100th start in the NASCAR Cup Series. In the midst of his second playoff appearance, Byron has one win at stock car racing’s highest level of competition – coming just two weeks ago at Daytona. The 22-year-old driver also has accumulated five pole awards, eight top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and led 391 laps across his first 99 Cup races, as well as claiming the series’ rookie of the year honors in 2018.
7X REACHES 700: Byron isn’t the only member of the No. 24 team marking a milestone at Richmond. In his 20th season atop the pit box, crew chief Chad Knaus will call his 700th NASCAR Cup Series race on Saturday night. In his time as a crew chief, Knaus has worked with four different drivers: Casey Atwood, Stacy Compton, Jimmie Johnson and currently Byron and the No. 24 team. Knaus’ impressive résumé consists of seven NASCAR Cup Series championships – including five in a row – with Johnson and the No. 48 team, the second-most by a crew chief. He is also the only crew chief to make the NASCAR playoffs in all 17 seasons since its inception in 2004 and has collected 29 wins in the playoff format, the most of anyone. Adding to his achievements, Knaus has 82 Cup wins, the third-most of all-time, coming at 20 different tracks. He has recorded a win at all but five tracks on the Cup Series circuit: Chicagoland Speedway, the Charlotte Roval, the DAYTONA Road Course, Kentucky Speedway and Watkins Glen International. Knaus also has 42 pole awards, 227 top-five finishes, 369 top-10s and 18,912 laps led to his name.
GETTIN’ HOT: In the final stretch of the 2020 Cup Series season, Byron and the No. 24 team are picking up momentum when it matters most. In the last three races, Byron has finished fourth at Dover, won at Daytona and secured a fifth-place finish at Darlington. He is the only driver to have finished in the top five in all three races. Byron’s three consecutive top-five finishes is a first in his Cup career. In fact, it is the longest streak by a Hendrick Motorsports driver since Chase Elliott had five in a row from April to June 2019. Byron’s average finish in the last three races is 3.33 – the best of all drivers – and he has accumulated 125 points – second to only Kevin Harvick (126).
ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: Valuable stage points and a top-five finish in Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway allowed Byron to maintain the ninth position in the playoff standings. With two races remaining in the first round, Byron sits nine points above the cut line to advance to the Round of 12.
NIGHT MOVES: With his top-five finish Sunday night at Darlington, Byron continued his success racing under the lights. In the last five races run at night, including his win at Daytona, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has finished in the top 10 in all five evening events in 2020.
SHORT-TRACK STYLE: Saturday’s race will be just the third short-track race of the 2020 Cup Series season after the field competed at Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway over the summer. Byron is just one of four drivers to have placed inside the top 10 for those two events, scoring eighth-place finishes in both. His active three-race streak of top-10 finishes on short tracks is tied for second with Kurt Busch and is behind Brad Keselowski’s record of six consecutive races.
READY FOR RICHMOND: With four Cup Series starts at Richmond Raceway under his belt, Byron looks to keep his momentum going when he gets to Virginia on Saturday. He has a best qualifying effort of ninth and finish of 12th at the track – both coming in April 2018. Aside from his four Cup Series starts, Byron has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at the short track, both in 2017. He earned a best starting position of sixth and finished seventh in the fall. He also has one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start from 2015, when he won the pole and finished sixth.
VIRGINIA IS FOR KNAUS: Returning with Byron and the No. 24 team to Richmond Raceway for the third time, Knaus will call his 40th race at the Virginia track. With three previous victories, Knaus leads all active crew chiefs for most wins at Richmond. He also has collected two pole awards, seven top-five finishes and 15 top-10s at the .75-mile oval.
LIBERTY U BRINGING THE LUCK: While Byron and the No. 24 team have been on a string of strong races, there has been one common denominator – Liberty University. On board the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the previous three races, Liberty will return for Saturday night’s race at Richmond, as well. Liberty University is in its sixth season of sponsoring the 22-year-old driver dating back to his time in the late model ranks. Liberty has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in business communications, Byron is in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program.
William Byron on the challenges at Richmond:
“Richmond is a difficult track. It’s pretty slow in the middle of the corner and that’s what makes it interesting and a challenge at the same time. You’re fighting for front grip and also rear grip on the exit of the corners. It’s all about getting the car pointed in the right direction and driving straight off the corner. Richmond has very normal characteristics for a short track, but at the same time it’s a lot slicker than a lot of places we go. I think with the race being at night, the biggest thing will be keeping up with the track changes.”