WIN TO GET IN: Going into the final race of the regular season for the NASCAR Cup Series, rookie William Byron will need to win this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs. While a tall order, Byron’s stats show that it’s certainly not an impossible feat for the 20-year-old. In the midst of his championship-winning NASCAR Xfinity Series season last year, Byron became the youngest driver to win a major race at the historic track at a precise age of 19 years, 7 months and 23 days. He’s the youngest to win a NASCAR race at the 2.5-mile track, and the third-youngest winner in any series, behind two Indy Car Light Series drivers. Kissing the bricks at Indy last July marked Byron’s third of four Xfinity wins in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team have a solid history at Indy as well, with Jeff Gordon becoming the youngest winner of the Brickyard 400 in 1994 – which was also the inaugural Brickyard 400 – when he was 23. Gordon has five Cup wins at Indy in the No. 24 Chevrolet, more than any other Cup driver and car number. Hendrick Motorsports won three of the last six races at Indianapolis with three different drivers, with Kasey Kahne bringing home the victory in 2017. Hendrick Motorsports drivers have also led the most laps in four of the last seven races at Indy.
ROOKIE BATTLE: In addition to trying to fight his way into the playoffs, Byron is also involved in a two-way battle for the Cup Series rookie of the year honors. With three top-10s and 53 laps led so far this season, the driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 leads the rookie standings by 87 points over Bubba Wallace.
ROOKIES AT INDY: Speaking of rookies, Indianapolis hasn’t been unfavorable to them over the years. While the best finish for a Cup Series rookie is second (Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007), six rookies have scored top-five finishes at the Brickyard, a stat that bodes well for Byron, especially since he’s already run – and won – at the track in the Xfinity Series.
LIBERTY U: At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the blue and red Liberty University colors will adorn the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 13th time this season. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 15 races in 2018, with the final two races as primary scheduled for Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. Liberty University, founded in 1971, offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. Byron, a junior majoring in business communications, currently takes online classes at Liberty, which offers more than 250 programs online.
CHEVY STAGE: Byron will appear at the Team Chevy Stage in the infield of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 9, at 10:45 a.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.
GOING HOME: No. 24 team front-end mechanic Ty Sipes hails from Bloomfield, Indiana, which is located approximately one hour and 45 minutes southwest of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Growing up, Sipes gained experience at local racetracks working on USAC Series cars. He earned his mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University in 2012, and even worked as a mechanic with Kahne’s World of Outlaws sprint car team before joining Hendrick Motorsports during the latter part of the 2014 season.
MTJF STEERING WHEEL: Throughout the month of September, Byron will run the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation steering wheel center pad in his No. 24 machine. September is Ovarian and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The foundation is raising awareness and funding for the diseases through the steering wheel program.
William Byron on his history at Indy and competing there in a Cup car:
“It was a really awesome weekend last year. Winning at Indy is something that’s really cool, and it was one of my best memories from last year. I enjoy the track – it’s a cool place and a really special racetrack. The track’s really narrow, really fast and it’s kind of a mix between a Michigan or a Pocono as well. It’s hard to prepare for it because we only go to one track-type like Indy each year, but it’s an exciting race and it’s also the cutoff for playoffs, so the strategy and trying to go for a win will be pretty exciting.”