SONOMA RACEWAY (2.52-MILE ROAD COURSE)
LOCATION: SONOMA, CALIFORNIA
EVENT: NASCAR CUP SERIES (RACE 16 OF 36)
TUNE IN: 3 P.M. ET, SUNDAY, JUNE 23 (FS1/PRN/SIRIUSXM)
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media on Friday, June 21, at 1:30 p.m. local time in the Sonoma Raceway media center.
STATS DON’T LIE: Coming out of the second off-weekend of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season, William Byron has had impressive stats in the first 15 races of his sophomore season. In the last three races, Byron has propelled himself from 19th to 14th in the driver point standings. He has started on the front row six times – the most of any driver this season so far – and is tied for first with the most pole awards (three). Byron has led laps in five consecutive races – the third-longest active streak among Cup drivers this season. He has also improved his average finishing position to 15.7 in the initial 15 races of this year compared to 20.1 in the same number of races in 2018.
HEY THERE, HERTZ: Returning to the West Coast, this time for the first road course event of the season, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will carry Hertz Corporation, one of the world’s largest vehicle rental companies, on board for the third time this season. The can’t-miss Hertz-yellow Camaro will hit the track this weekend and again at ISM Raceway in the fall. Earlier this week, the third installment of the Hertz Heroes at Hendrick Motorsports series was released featuring competition systems group engineer H.A. Mergen. Watch his interview with No. 24 team crew chief Chad Knaus here.
SONOMA STATS: Last year, Byron made his Sonoma Raceway debut in the Cup Series, qualifying eighth and finishing 25th after fighting handling issues for much of the 110-lap race. Before his Cup start, Byron had two previous starts at the road course, both coming in the K&N Pro Series. Byron’s first road course race in a stock car came at Sonoma Raceway in 2015 in the K&N Pro Series West race, qualifying second and racing to a fifth-place finish. Byron returned to Sonoma for the K&N Pro Series West race last year, tying his best qualifying effort of second and crossing the finish line in third.
KNAUS’ KEENNESS: Climbing on top of the pit box for the 16th time with Byron and the No. 24 team in 2019, Knaus will call the shots for his 19th Sonoma race as a crew chief this weekend. Out of his previous 18 races at the California road course, Knaus has four top-five finishes and nine top-10s, including one win – his only victory as a Cup Series crew chief on a road course.
MENTIONING MICHIGAN: The Cup Series last competed almost two weeks ago at Michigan International Speedway. Byron qualified 21st but had to wait an extra day before getting on track after rain postponed the event until Monday, June 10. Spending the initial laps adjusting to the new aero package, Byron steadily climbed his way into the top-15 running order throughout the race, finding himself 13th as a caution came out with four laps remaining. Restarting in the bottom lane in overtime, Byron lost momentum in the closing laps, finishing the race in 18th.
William Byron on the carousel at Sonoma:
“I haven’t experienced the carousel at Sonoma before. I think it’s going to be different for all of us this weekend. We were talking about that last week in the shop, there’s going to be a lot of differences such as the gearing ratio that we’ll use now. It’s going to create a new challenge for all of us, which I feel like evens the playing field some.”
Byron on road courses:
“I like them. I’ve done a lot of work with Max Papis to really improve on them throughout my career. I think my instincts for road course racing are really starting to show more and I think I’m becoming a quicker study at those places. I’m still working on learning what the car needs there or what I’m supposed to need for a race, which is the hard part. I feel like I can make a good lap time and get in a good rhythm, though, which is half the battle.”