TWO MORE CHANCES: Driving through the field to the front multiple times during Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, William Byron suffered a flat right-rear tire in the closing laps of the race which left him with an 18th-place finish. He is now sitting ninth in the driver point standings, only four points below the playoff cut line. Byron and the No. 24 team still have two more races to make up the point gap and lock himself into the Round of 8 with two of his best tracks coming up.
BEST YEAR YET: With only six races left in the 2021 Cup Series season, Byron continues to have a career-best season at the highest level of competition in the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. So far, Byron has collected one win (Homestead-Miami Speedway), two pole awards (Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – most by a driver this season), 10 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s all while leading 283 laps and collecting three stage wins. In his Cup career, these are the most top-five finishes, top-10s, laps led and stage wins the 23-year-old driver has collected in a single season.
SUPER ON SUPERSPEEDWAYS: Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway will be Byron’s 16th superspeedway start in the Cup Series. In his previous 15 starts, Byron has scored one win (Daytona, August 2020), four top-five finishes and four top-10s with 148 laps led. In the last five superspeedway races, Byron is one of three drivers (Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin) who have scored top-five finishes in three races – the most in the series.
TALLADEGA TELL-ALL: Byron will be making his eighth Cup Series start at the 2.66-mile oval when the No. 24 team hits the track Sunday. In his previous seven starts, Byron has a track-best finish of second coming in his last appearance at the Alabama-based venue (April 2021). In fact, Byron’s last two appearances at Talladega have been his best, with his runner-up result earlier this season and a fourth-place result in October 2020. He is the only driver to have finished in the top-five in the last two Talladega races.
DIGGIN’ ‘DEGA: When the Cup Series heads to Talladega for the second time this season, it will also mark Rudy Fugle’s second race at the venue as a Cup Series crew chief. In his first Cup start, Fugle helped Byron score his track-best finish of second after leading 12 laps. Aside from that, the Livonia, New York, native has seven starts at the 2.66-mile track already under his belt, all in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In those seven races, Fugle has accumulated three top-five finishes and five top-10s. One of those previous starts was with Byron in 2016 when the duo started eighth and raced to a 10th-place result.
ALL ABOUT AXALTA: For the second race in the Round of 12, Byron will climb behind the wheel of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Sunday’s race. 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.
CLOSE TO HOME: Hailing from Pensacola, Florida, No. 24 team spotter Tab Boyd claims Talladega Superspeedway as his home track. Growing up a few hours away from the 2.66-mile superspeedway, Boyd has more than 20 years of experience in NASCAR, from various roles including a NASCAR Xfinity Series tire changer, as well as mechanical and fabrication positions before ultimately ending up in the spotter’s stand. When Boyd has time outside of the NASCAR schedule, he is usually still at the racetrack but behind the steering wheel of his Street Stock vehicle in the Street Stock Mid-Atlantic Series.
William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on focusing on racing at Talladega: “We’ll be aware of the point situation this weekend but we can’t focus on it since it’s not the final race of the round. It would have been nice going into Talladega above the cut line and with more of a cushion but that’s part of the playoffs. Talladega and the (Charlotte Motor Speedway) ROVAL are two of our best tracks, though. Both superspeedways and road courses can be unpredictable, but they are tracks that we have had some of the most success at. My first Cup Series win came on a superspeedway. I know Rudy (Fugle) and the guys will bring a fast Axalta Chevy – it will just be about execution and getting as many points as we can. That’s what our goal has always been.”
Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the team’s goals for Talladega: “The bad luck we’ve had has definitely been frustrating, especially with how fast our car was in Las Vegas. That’s behind us now, though. What happened there doesn’t change how we approach this weekend at Talladega. We’re still going to prepare the best car we can to go out there and get the most amount of points we can and, hopefully, the win. Superspeedway racing is known to be a wildcard, so if you secure stage points early on, you’re in a better position. But we’re also not going to put William in a position where we’d be risking not being around at the end of the race, either. It’s a fine balance, but this style of races have been a strong point of not only William and the No. 24 team, but also Hendrick Motorsports. We’ll be ready.”