UP FRONT VIEWS: After another top-five run this past Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE continue to be a model of consistency. After 15 races, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has collected one win, six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s all while leading 190 laps. With the second-best average running position throughout the NASCAR Cup Series field of 7.99 and an average finishing position of 9, Byron is tied for the second position in the driver points standings with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson following the 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway – the highest ranking of his Cup career.
READY, PLAYER 24: After its inception last year during the pandemic, the iRacing NASCAR Pro Invitational Series resumes Wednesday night for the fifth race of 10 in 2021 at the virtual Chicago Street Course with the Next Gen car. Picking up where he left off last season, Byron raced to the win in the first Pro Invitational Series event this year on March 24 at the virtual Bristol dirt track. In his 10 total Pro Invitational Series starts, Byron leads the field with four wins and is the only driver to win consecutive races. He has paced the field in eight of his 10 starts, leading a total of 477 out of 1,210 laps – the most of all drivers.
ROAD RESULTS: This Sunday will mark the third points-paying road course race of the 2021 season and Byron has stepped up his road course racing skills in the last two years, finishing in the top 10 in three of the last five races. While in the last seven road course events, he has led at least 20 laps in three of those races, including leading the most laps during last year’s race at the Charlotte ROVAL. In fact, Byron led the second-most laps on road courses during the 2020 season.
SONOMA STATS: With a pause in racing action at Sonoma Raceway last year due to the pandemic, Byron will return to the 2.52-mile road course for the third time in his Cup Series career. In those two starts, Byron’s best showing came in 2019 when he qualified second and raced up front for most of the event, collecting as many stage points as possible, including his first Cup Series stage win. However, with a differing strategy, Byron was credited with a 19th-place result. Aside from his two Cup Series starts, Byron has two previous starts at the road course both coming in the ARCA Menards Series West (formerly known as the K&N Series West). In fact, Byron’s first road course race in a stock car came at Sonoma Raceway in 2015 in the ARCA Menards Series West event where he qualified second and raced to a fifth-place finish. Byron returned to Sonoma for the ARCA Menards Series West race in 2018, tying his best qualifying effort of second, but crossed the finish line two spots better than his 2015 showing, in the third position.
FIRST FOR FUGLE: Already in 2021 Fugle and Byron have three road course starts together, two at the DAYTONA Road Course and most recently at the Circuit of The Americas. For the Clash exhibition race, the No. 24 raced to a solid fifth-place result but bad luck struck the team for their return trip less than two weeks later, resulting in a 33rd-place finish after Byron suffered a flat tire and with two laps to go. Two weeks ago at Circuit of The Americas, Byron was running within the top five when damage sustained from a competitor forced the No. 24 team to rally from behind, resulting in an 11th-place result. However, aside from those three road course starts in the Cup Series, Fugle has seven other road course races under his belt all coming in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven starts, the Livonia, New York, native has one win (Erik Jones, 2015), three top-five finishes, and five top-10s. One of those seven truck starts was also with Byron where the duo raced to a 10th-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2016.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: When the Cup Series returns to Sonoma for the first time since 2019, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE as he takes on the 2.52-mile road course. Now in its 29th year of partnership with Hendrick Motorsports, Axalta will return as primary partner on Byron’s No. 24 for 14 races in 2021. For a better look at Byron’s new No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, click here.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on how Sonoma races differently than other road courses: “Sonoma is probably the most different out of all the road courses we go to on the circuit. It has more of a short track feel almost because there’s no big braking zones; you’re moreso always turning. It’s all about how you turn and navigate the apex of the corners and get a good run off the corner. It’s not as much about braking and high speed, it’s more about finesse and exiting the low speed corners. It’s just a different challenge and you set up your car differently because of it. I’m excited for it, though. I think we have a good package this year and I feel like I’ve really done my homework for this weekend.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE on having less experience at Sonoma: “Sonoma is a racetrack that I haven’t been to in my career, not just in the Cup Series, but in any series. That doesn’t really concern me, though. I’ve been watching a lot of video of past races and we have a good notebook here at Hendrick Motorsports. From what I can tell, if you get buried in traffic, it’s hard to make up positions, even with pit strategy. Sonoma is a track where you either have to go for the win or go for maximum points. It doesn’t seem to be like most road courses where you can go for stage points in one stage and give up the points in another. You have to pick one strategy or the other, which is a challenge. I’m almost happy that we don’t have practice this weekend for that reason. That means we show up and race. I can’t overthink things. I just have to make a decision and go with it.”