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Byron wins the Daytona 500


Daytona International Speedway Daytona 500 | Feb. 19, 2024

Started 18th (dropped to the rear) Finished 1st


RECAPPING THE RACE

After NASCAR Cup Series single-car qualifying on Wednesday evening, William Byron secured a third-place starting position for the second duel qualifying race on Thursday. Unfortunately though, Byron was caught up in an on-track incident during that 60-lap qualifier that forced the No. 24 team to go to a back up car.

 

With weather postponing the DAYTONA 500 to Monday afternoon, Byron started the event from the tail end of the field but was able to make his way up to just outside the top 20 before the first caution of the race came out on lap 6. Crew chief Rudy Fugle made the call for his driver to pit under the caution for fuel only, but after Byron had to avoid a competitor on pit road, the team elected to change four tires as well. Once again restarting at the back of the pack, the 26-year-old driver ran right around the 28th position for the majority of stage one while saving fuel. Once intensity picked up, Byron maneuvered his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the top 10. On lap 54, Fugle made the call for fuel only under green before cycling into the top-five running order. As the final laps in the stage clicked away, Byron eventually ended up in the top five running order before crossing the stripe in fifth. Under the stage break, Byron came down pit road for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and extra fuel to run long in the next stage.

 

Lining up in eighth for the start of stage two, Byron did his best to make up ground until getting shuffled mid-pack early in the stage run. With the field mainly in fuel saving mode again, Byron and the No. 24 team were able to maintain track position until he made his green-flag pit stop for fuel on lap 115 before rejoining the field as the second car in the third lane. Continuing to work his way through traffic, Byron found himself in the top 10 with 10 to go in the stage before taking the green-checkered flag in sixth. Under the stage break, Fugle made the pit strategy call for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 before topping of on fuel just before the field went back green.

 

With 64 laps remaining, intensity continued to pick up which included the whole field running three-wide throughout the pack. Byron continued his march back to the front though, reaching the top 15 before green-flag pit stops once again began to cycle through. Coming down pit road to the attention of his Axalta pit crew for fuel only on lap 181, Byron rejoined the field within striking distance of the lead. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native snaked his way through the draft, ultimately missing an on-track incident that left him in second with under 10 laps remaining. Electing to take the low lane on the front row for the restart with four laps left, Byron contented for the top spot in the closing laps before slightly edging out his competitors coming to the white flag. Just as Byron crossed beneath the white flag, the caution came out for an on-track incident, securing the win for the No. 24 in the 2024 DAYTONA 500 – his first in the historic event and ninth for Hendrick Motorsports.

 

Byron crossed the finish line first in Monday night’s DAYTONA 500 followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman close behind in second. Kyle Larson was scored just outside the top 10 in the 11th position while Chase Elliott also scored a top-15 finish in 14th.

 

QUOTING THE No. 24 TEAM:HOW DOES DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION SOUND TO YOU?“It sounds really damn good! Just thanks to an awesome crowd coming out. I have so many emotions. Obviously, I hate what happened on the backstretch. I just got pushed and got sideways. 

 

“I am just so proud of this team - this whole No. 24 Axalta Chevy team, winning on the 40th anniversary to the day (of Hendrick Motorsports’ first race). Just extremely blessed and thankful for all the opportunities and we just want to keep it going. We have a lot to prove this year and this is a good start, obviously. Daytona 500, it's freaking awesome.  Let’s go.”

 

YOU HAD NOT EVEN HAD A TOP-TEN IN THIS RACE BEFORE. WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE TONIGHT TO GETTING IN POSITION TO WIN?

“I don’t know, just really good strategy. We obviously laid back and tried to save fuel for most of the race. We would get up there at the end of the stages and make some moves. Just thankful for the power under the hood, all of our partners, Chevrolet, and everybody that allows us to do this.  I’m just a kid from racing on computers and now winning the Daytona 500. I can’t believe it. I wish my dad was here, he is sick, but this is for him, man. We have been through so much and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched this race. This is so freaking cool.”

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